General Rules

  • Making a list avoids buying unnecessary items and missing ingredients needed for what you’re planning to cook that week. Stick with list as much as possible.
  • Don’t go shopping when you have not eaten all day or go for a “junk” or “snack” run, when you may be the most impulsive, especially when hungry.
  • Buy generic brand whenever it does not matter.
  • Always consider what is on “sale” that week.
  • Whenever possible, shop from the periphery of the store. This is always where the fresh and perishable items are, including fresh produce, fruit, dairy, eggs, artisan breads, cheeses, as well as items which require refrigeration.
  • Learn to read the food label. Taking a few moments to read how much sugar and fat per serving will make you more aware of what you are buying for your children and family, and even stop you from buying something less nutritious.  Doing this consistently will lead to better purchasing habits.  Since foods are generally grouped together, it is helpful to pick up something similar and compare the fat and sugar content. For example, compare a few types of cereal and look at which one would have less sugar and more fiber.
  • Always have “staples”. Some of my staples are white and brown rice, pasta, grains, (cereals), olive oil, soy milk and eggs at all time

Produce Section

  • Take your children shopping with you sometimes when you have the time to talk to them and engage them in helping to select fruit and produce.  Many children do not know what the various vegetables and fruits are.  Becoming familiar with fresh foods is an important first step in children growing up to either incorporate them into their diet as well as learn to prepare them.
  • Teach children how to pick what looks fresh as well as look at expiration dates
  • Gotta have apples – crunch/ fiber/filling/easy
  • Take the time to learn about fruits and vegetables which you are not familiar with or did not grow up eating.  You can write them down, go online and read about them, their nutrition content, and search recipes using these ingredients.
  • Always look at the expiration date, get the most time out of your investment in fresh foods.
  • Pick a variety of colors of vegetables and fruits
  • Sweet potato instead of white sometimes

Refrigerated Section- Prepared Meats

  • Choose ones with less sodium and fat

Protein Source

  • Have an idea what you’ll be making for the week so you can plan on what protein to buy that week. I rarely, if ever, cook and eat red meat at home except maybe ground beef once every couple of weeks. Instead, I cook a great deal of chicken and pork, as well as fish and shrimp. Consider other protein source like soybean product (tofu), beans, and even some dairy
  • Buy what is on sale.
  • Bone in is cheaper, remove skin at home to save money, buy bulk and separate into bags for separate meals.

Cereal Aisle

  • Read food labels, compare sugar and fiber content when choosing a cereal.  The more advertisement/cartoon characters, the more colors, the more you should avoid it. Look for high fiber content. Mixing a variety of cereal types from Kashi is a great way to enjoy cereal. Think about being creative, adding dried fruit or fresh fruit to your cereal.

Processed/Canned Aisle

  • When buying processed foods, read the label to check out sugar, fat, sodium, and fiber.  Avoid items which are high in sugar, fat, and sodium, and when possible choose options with more fiber
  • I personally avoid processed stuff like pasta products, “XXX- Helper”, even canned soups due to high sodium content. Instead, make soups from scratch and fresh ingredients.  Avoid fruits that are in syrup (high fructose corn syrup or too much sugar). Avoid canned vegetables, often mushy and do not taste good. Even frozen are better and taste better too.
  • Must have red sauce, dressing for salads etc.
  • Tuna
  • Couscous

Bread Aisle

  • Choose whole grain and wheat whenever reasonable provided your family would be willing to eat them. (Grilled cheese always best on white, so always be reasonable and do not ruin favorite items)
  • Go to bakery section, know difference between artisan bread and regular bread isle and splurge sometimes on good bread.


  • Yogurt – Greek is better, higher protein, less sugar. Avoid cartoon characters, read labels for sugar content. Be very critical about label.
  • Splurge on organic milk if you can afford it, no hormone added may be very important to you.
  • Once a toddler is 2 or older, he/she no longer needs whole milk. Check with your pediatrician or family doctor.
  • Get to know alternatives such as soy, almond, and even coconut. Look to make sure there is Calcium and Vit D, likely found in soy and comparable to cow milk.
  • Cheese – avoid highly processed cheeses like velveta, cheese sticks, and use cheese slices in sandwiches instead of having your child eat them freely
  • Cottage cheese and other stuff – watch how much your child eats in a cumulative 12 hour period

Frozen Aisle

  • Limit what you purchase here, I do occasional buy ice cream, frozen vanilla yogurt, few Jack’s pizza, & frozen veggies to save time
  • Avoid pre-packaged and prepared breakfast sandwiches and items high in fat and calories. Again, READ FOOD LABELS.
  • Avoid even frozen buttered breads – read label and decide

Eggs/Other Refrigerated Items

  • Love eggs, healthy, good source of protein and good cholesterol, inexpensive, good for many recipes
  • Pre-packaged pasta in refrigerated section – quick meals even though moderately priced.
  • Prepared Pesto


  • I avoid prepackaged brownies, cookies, cupcakes, anything with any colored icing.  I would rather bake from scratch, or if I must, occasional splurge on cookies that are prepared in refrigerated dough

Snack Aisle

  • Always have snacks in your pantry that provide crunch
  • Choose lower fat and lower sodium kettle chips – maximum crunch
  • Choose Wheat Thins, Cheetos, pretzels, etc
  • Avoid more than 2 bags of chips  per trip to store
  • Almonds
  • Popcorn

Your shopping should be fairly consistent each week, except for replacement items like storage bags, cleaning agents, seasonings, etc.