The top priority on your shopping trip should be plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Take advantage of seasonal choices in your area, and also look ahead at weekly flyers for sales, because these often coincide. When choosing fruits and vegetables to buy, remember that dark green, deep orange, and other dark colors generally signify a high nutritional content. For instance, spinach on a sandwich or in a salad will provide more vitamins and minerals than iceberg lettuce.
Whole grains should also be top on your list. Try to choose brown rather that white rice; whole wheat or other whole grain breads rather than white; and keep both white and whole-wheat flour on hand for baking. Other things to keep on hand are barley, oats, couscous and whole grain pasta.
When buying meat, look for the leanest possible cuts; go for cold-water fish like mackerel and salmon because they contain heart-healthy fatty acids; and opt for skim and low-fat milk, cheese and yogurt.
Staying along the perimeter of the store will help you to avoid loading up on highly processed foods and snacks, and keep your attention focused on fresh, healthy foods that are found in the produce, dairy, fish, and meat sections of the store. For those fortunate enough to have one, the local farmer's market is an excellent substitute for a major supermarket or chain.
Use olive or safflower oil instead of partially hydrogenated fats, oils and margarine whenever possible.
Substitute chicken broth for butter or margarine in dishes like mashed potatoes.
Try substituting one-half of the white flour with wheat flour when baking.
Steam vegetables and try adding basil, rosemary or garlic for flavor instead of butter.
Trim all visible fat off of meat and remove the skin off of poultry.
Remember, you don't need meat at every meal. Consider purchasing a vegetarian cookbook for ideas and suggestions.
Use applesauce instead of oils in baking.
Try something new—cook meats in fruit juices instead of oil.
Remember that grilling is always a better choice than frying.
Enhance the flavor of your foods with spices—the more the merrier.
Printed from Oprah.com on Tuesday, December 10, 2013