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Life Skills for Teens #4: How to Grocery Shop
One of the hardest things I had to learn growing up was how to shop for and cook food for myself. I swear it felt like a huge undertaking requiring days of research for recipes and the search for mysterious and hard-to-find ingredients at the store followed by often disappointing dishes I failed to execute as well as the original chef. Plus, I had my grandmother’s reputation as a gracious southern hostess and fabulous cook to live up to (at least in my own mind) so cooking has always been an enigma to me although it is something I enjoy, particularly cooking for others as a way to show my love for them. What this all boils down to is that I tend to eat whole foods from simple recipes that don’t require a lot of time or preparation, particularly when cooking just for myself. I am particularly fond of almost any type of bean combined with veggies and some organic meat. The good news is since these aren’t processed foods, they tend to be healthier for you, too.
Good meals start with great ingredients and even if you are on a budget, with a little work and know-how you can prepare tasty favorites and even healthy versions of take-out food without breaking the bank. One of my favorite bloggers writes Poor Girl Eats Well, a blog that gives you some great tips on cooking with fresh basic ingredients while making some pretty gourmet stuff.
Here are my own tips for shopping for tasty, easy, good-for-you stuff at the store:
1. Follow the walls. All the healthiest, most wholesome foods are located around the outer perimeter of your grocery store. Here you’ll find the produce and bakery departments, the meats and the dairy and eggs. Most of this stuff makes up the basic building blocks of a healthy meal.
2. Buy organic. Whenever you can afford it, buy organic produce and other products. It helps support farmers doing right by the planet and helps to ensure you’re not putting a bunch of unknown toxic chemicals or GMOS into your body.
3. Watch the sale ads. Stock up on staples like rice, beans and cereals then they are on sale.
4. Stick to simple ingredients. Things you buy from the aisles of the grocery store should only have ingredients whose name you can pronounce. Chances are if you can’t say it or don’t know what it is, it probably isn’t necessarily meant to be eaten. A lot of hidden chemicals and preservatives find their way into our food like this so you can eliminate them by only buying items that you know what’s in them.
5. DIY. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Like granola but can’t afford to pay $6 a box for the organic stuff? Pick up some honey and brown sugar, some oats and some dried fruits and nuts and give making your own a whirl. Bonus: It’s customized to flavors you like. Use your computer to find easy recipes online.