May 2012: Healthy Shopping (and Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Day!)

This month I am excited to share with you information about a project I am working on for Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Day on May 19th. Knowing where our food comes from, how it was produced, being able to identify local food sources as well as knowing how to cook our own meals (and enjoy doing it!) – these are important skills necessary to make the right food choices every day.

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Day gives us all the opportunity to join thousands of people around the world in empowering each other with these skills.   Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Day will include events such as tastings, classes, and events in 25 countries around the world.  In my role as an Ambassador for the Jamie Oliver Food Day, I have decided to hold a local event, a “Healthy Grocery Shopping Tour”. This event will take place in Ketchum, Idaho with the partnership and support of Idaho’s Bounty and Main Street Market.  I am so grateful for the collaboration of these two wonderful organizations and specifically the support of Karen Holzman and Lynea Newcomer.  If you would like to sign up for this event ($5 per attendee is a donation to Jamie’s foundation projects in the UK, US and Australia to support food education), please follow the link to sign up for one of the 20 spots available (you might need to move quickly to get a spot!):

I have written about healthy shopping previously in the October 2009: Two ways to spend $100 at the grocery store.  The point of that article was to emphasize that if you need or want to save money on your grocery shopping bill, the best strategy and also one that optimizes the nutrition of your foods is to buy whole foods that you prepare yourself.  In other words, time to drop the frozen meals and prepared foods and get yourself into the kitchen to start cooking!.  In fact, I showed that the “healthy food” shopping trip yielded many more (for lunches/dinners, nearly twice!) servings than the “unhealthy” (prepared foods) shopping trip.  I am still very much in that camp, as you probably know.  This calendar year I have been faithfully posting easy recipes that you can prepare (often quite simply in a slow cooker or rice cooker) through the recipe blog, Delicious and Nutritious.  If you haven’t checked out that blog in a while, you’ve missed out on some great recipes including dips, salads, soups and more!  So, maybe plan a few easy family meals this week.

But first, you need to plan your shopping trip…

As we get into the details of “Healthy Shopping”, I’d like to thank Heather Sullivan, Registered Dietician, for her help in framing much of the materials around the “why” and “how” of healthy shopping.  She came up with the idea of creating “themes” that you can use to plan your family meals on a daily basis, rotating recipes yet allowing your family to have some expectations of what will be served that night.  In the comments sections below, if you have any ideas or experiences in using “themes” to plan your daily/weeky dinners, we would love to hear from you!

Why plan ahead?  
Planning ahead

o   Reduces impulse purchases at the grocery store or fast food restaurant that cost more and are less healthy

o   Reduces wasted food

o   Saves time wandering around the grocery store (focus your time on the outside of the grocery store: the produce section, bulk section, dairy refrigerator, meat counter and freezer sections offer the most value for your money and the most nutritious options)

o   Increases the number of home cooked meals your family eats.  Eating more home cooked meals has been shown to improve a family’s overall health, improve students’ academic performance and reduce the chances that children will get involved with drugs or alcohol.

How to plan ahead (10 steps)

1.      Look at what you already have in the pantry, freezer and refrigerator.  If there are any items that will soon go bad, start by planning at least one meal around those items.

2.      Stock your pantry with healthy ingredients will help you put meals together easily and quickly.  Use the bulk section! Buying items in bulk is often ½ the price of packaged items and allows you to purchase as much or as little as you want.
Here is an outline of how you can structure your shopping list.  Always think about what you have, and what you need based on recipes you are planning for the week.



Need   Have


Need   Have


broccolileafy greens(Canned)
split peasbeans




      DairyMilkYogurtCheese       Animal Protein(Fresh)


olive oil








Boxed Grains










chili powder





Italian seasoning


Nuts/ Nut butters/Jellies & Jams




fruit jellies/jams










soy sauce

roasted peppers


chicken broth
veggie broth



3.      Look at your local grocery store flyers or website to see what’s on sale that week.

4.      Consider what’s in season.  Fruits and vegetables are cheaper when purchased in season and have more nutritional value; they’re higher in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  Canned and frozen fruits and vegetables are a great choice when out of season.  Click here for more information about choosing fresh, frozen or canned fruits and vegetables.  Click here for information about stretching your food dollars for fruits and veggies.

5.      Purchase local items as a great way to support your local economy and create a story around the meals your family eats.    

6.      Consider your plans for the week: how many meals will you eat at home?  How many servings do you need?  (If you like leftovers, double a recipe and serve leftovers another day).  How much time will you have each evening to prepare meals?

7.      Consider what items can be used in more than one meal.  For example, if you make a whole chicken and serve it with a salad and grain one night, the next day you can use the same ingredients plus whole grain tortillas, beans and cheese for a chicken taco night.  Click here for more information about how to use leftovers for additional meals.

8.      Use themes for different days of the week to help you decide what to serve each day; that way your family will know what to expect.  Some examples might include:  Souper Sunday, Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, and so on.

9.      Take into account the latest nutritional advice when planning meals.  In particular, remember MyPlate (or Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate).  You can even make a list based on “Go” vs. “Slow” foods! (Click here for a template).

10. Involve your family.  Have them plan a meal one day and help to make the grocery list and meal.   Click here to see guidelines on how long you can store food.  If they are new to food preparation, this basic overview of kitchen terms might just help them get started!

Happy and healthy planning and shopping to everyone!  Happy Food Revolution Day on May 19th!

My best,

Additional Resources:

Iowa State University Extension, Spend Smart Eat Smart
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly known as the American Dietetic Association):
American Heart Association, Heart-Smart Shopping, Build a Healthy Diet with Smart Shopping (Food Shopping and Meal Planning)
National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (part of NIH):  Smart Food Shopping

Back copies of Healthy Kids Ideas Exchange monthly newsletters are always available online.

Don’t forget to check out the recent posts on the Delicious and Nutritious, Green and Plenty and Wholesome Heart Blogs!

Delicious and Nutritious recipes are kid tested and range from breakfast to snacks.  We occassionally include a dessert as well –which we know is probably more delicous than it is nutrititiuos, but we feel that people need a sweet treat here and there.  We hope you are inspired by our ideas!

Green and Plenty:  presents the latest in nutrition, delicious and seasonal recipes, green design and wellness tips for the reader and her family.

Wholesome Heart:    includes delicious recipes, time-saving tips, and nutrition tidbits.


This column is for information only, and no part of its contents should be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, recommendation or endorsement by the author. You should always ask your physician for his or her recommendation before starting any new health-related activity.



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