5 smart food-shopping tips

Use these tactics to make sure you are prepared with the right foods to keep you on track.

When you eat at home, you consume fewer calories. But, in order to make delicious healthy meals, you need to have the right foods on hand. These strategies will help:

Take inventory

Use a meal planner as part of your healthy-eating strategy to guide your shopping. Take an inventory of your staples, such as low-fat milk, fresh fruits and whole grains.

Make a list

A list makes your shopping trip more efficient and helps you avoid impulse buys. But don't let your list prevent you from looking for or trying new healthy foods. When making your list, use your weight-loss menus as your guide. Make sure your list includes healthy and convenient snack foods. To make things go faster, organize your list according to where foods are located at your favorite store.

Shop the perimeter of the store for fresh foods

The dairy case and the fresh produce, poultry and seafood sections of most grocery stores are all located on the perimeter. That's where to focus your shopping when using the Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid. Fresh foods are generally better than ready-to-eat foods because you know exactly what goes into your meal.

Don't shop when you're hungry

It's harder to resist buying higher-fat, higher-calorie snack items when you're hungry. So set yourself up for success and shop after you've eaten a good meal. If you do find yourself shopping on an empty stomach, drink some water or buy a piece of fruit to munch on.

Read nutrition labels

Check nutrition labels for serving size, calories, fat, cholesterol and sodium. Remember, even low-fat and fat-free foods can pack a lot of calories. Don't be fooled. The label will list calories, fat, sodium and cholesterol for one serving — but it can be tempting to eat more than one serving. Make sure to compare similar products so that you can choose the healthiest option.