How often does this happen to you? You go to the supermarket and you don’t know exactly what to buy – It can be really annoying! There are many tempting items on the shelf, so it’s easy to buy the wrong stuff. Not every product that’s on sale is the healthiest choice, especially if you’re on a diet and you count every calorie. You are looking for low-fat, low sugar food that is relatively cheap. You can be a savvy shopper and buy healthy low fat foods even on a strict budget. A shopping list is like a restaurant menu, but this time you’re the chef that picks the right ingredients for your healthy meals!
Dairy products do contain slimming nutrients (hard to believe), such as protein, calcium, selenium and fatty acids. They are relatively low in calories and good for your diet as long as you pick the right products. Go with fat-free or skim milk, low-fat yogurt as well as low-fat ricotta cheese, cottage cheese or skim-milk mozzarella. Be careful with the fat-free yogurt! First, read the label: Many fat-free yogurt brands are loaded in sugar and other artificial ingredients. You can use plain, unsweetened, fat-free Greek yogurt for a healthy dessert alternative or for a sweet snack.
There are so many various labels on egg cartons. Try to buy organic, cage-free eggs and egg whites. Egg whites are a great alternative to regular eggs because they are lower in fat, high in protein and are cholesterol-free.
Whole grains are a high-protein, high-fiber alternative to white bread, which has a lower nutritional value compared with other carbohydrates. Multigrain and whole wheat bread can provide up to 5 g of protein per slice, depending on the brand you purchase. If you have to restrict your salt intake, opt for sodium-free bread. Oats, granola, quinoa and low in sugar cereals should be on your breakfast list since they are high in fiber as well as fortified with essential mineral and vitamins that your body needs early in the day. For a more filling meal, go with brown, wild rice, couscous and whole wheat pasta. Save money and calories by making your own healthy wraps. Whole wheat, spinach and sun-dried tomatoes are just a few of your options.
Fresh/Frozen Fruits and Vegetables
If your favorite fruits or veggies are not in season, it will cost you more to buy them. In this case, you can save money by buying them frozen. It’s true that fresh fruit sometimes tastes better than frozen ones, but it doesn’t mean that they are empty of all the good stuff. They are frozen shortly after they’ve been picked so they don’t lose vitamin C or the other vitamins and minerals. Fruits such as frozen berries, apricots, mango chunks, cherries are also great for smoothies. If you go with frozen veggies such as artichoke hearts, spinach, corn or English peas, you just have to microwave them for a few minutes before cooking.
Don’t freeze for too long in the meat aisle! Go with leaner meats such as turkey or chicken breast, which contain less fat and fewer calories than beef or pork. Instead of buying fatty beef hamburger, you should try chicken, turkey sausage or even vegetarian sausage (made of vegetable protein, spices, beans, and peppers) which are very filling and have a complex taste. Don’t skip fish! Sometimes buying fish can be a daunting choice because fish is more expensive than other proteins, like steak or veal. But opt for fish fillet such as salmon and tilapia, which are low in fat. Make economical choices with canned fish such as canned tuna, salmon or sardines which taste really good and are great for salads or sandwiches.
Made of chickpeas, this spread is a healthy alternative to fatty mayonnaise spreads because chickpeas don’t contain any cholesterol or saturated fat. Include hummus to your diet by using it as spread on sandwiches and wraps, or as dip for raw vegetables. Choose carrots, celery sticks, cucumbers instead pretzels or veggie chips as your dip delivery vehicle.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are a smart way to add fiber to the diet as well as protein. These snacks should be your best friend! Walnuts, almonds, and pistachio are great to snack on when you’re on a low calorie diet and you’re trying to cut on fattening snacks. A handful of mixed nuts can trickily induce a feeling of satiety for a longer period of time between your meals. Flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, and chia seeds add extra sources of fiber to your diet. You can use your favorite seeds uncooked in salad dressings, spreads, fruit shakes, and just about anything you want. Need a small amount of seeds? Buy them in bulk: it allows you to get as much as you want and is much cheaper than pre-packaged seeds.
Spices are important for good seasoning – instead of adding extra butter or too much salt to your dishes, use aromatic spices to give flavor to your food. If you love cooking, you can find lots of way to play with them. Such spices as cinnamon, ginger and chili powder speed up the calorie burning process in your body and fight the fat storage. Enhance your desserts flavor with cinnamon or vanilla extract: sprinkle cinnamon on your oatmeal, shake and yogurt. Try adding some heat to your meals or snacks: add cayenne or jalapeno to sauces, stews, soups, or dips.
Healthy Desserts Ideas
- Rice Cakes: These brown crispy cakes are great substitutes for bread, crispy chips or sugary waffles. They’re made of whole grain brown rice and are relatively low in calories: a plain rice cake has only 35! They’re available in a variety of toasty flavors like apple-cinnamon, popcorn, chocolate and cheese. Choose a rice cake instead of a candy bar and it can save you more than 200 calories per day!
- Protein Bars and Dried Fruits: A diet should not be a punishment! From time to time, you can indulge in slim sweet treats, which have a reminiscent taste of sinful candies. Dried fruits are healthier alternatives to refined sugar, and are a tempting way to satisfy a sweet craving. Not all dried fruits are good for you- some of them are too candied, loaded with sugar and extra additives. Stick to these dried fruits: cherry, mango, apricot, apple, papaya and fig. Protein bars are delicious pre or post workout snacks. They are dipped in chocolate, nuts, dried fruits and are quite affordable. Think Thin™ protein bars have approximately 20g of protein, they are gluten free and very low in sugar (Think Thin™ Crunchy Peanut Butter has 0 g sugar).
It’s not enough to pay attention at what you eat if you don’t care about what you sip on. The average American gets 20% of their daily calories from beverages. So don’t even bother to fill your shopping bags with heavy items such as soda cans, iced teas or coffee drinks. This doesn’t sound cool: a Snapple Lemon Iced Tea has 250 calories and 58 g sugars. Stick to water! If you crave bubbly drinks, buy club soda or sparkling water. Making your own flavoring soda at home is a great way to cut on calories and stay healthy. Create healthy soda recipes like fancy mixologist does: add wedges of limes, oranges, and other fruits to carbonated water and quench your thirst!