I'm a small-town Minnesota dietitian and triathlete.
I help endurance athletes reach their performance and body composition goals through a flexible eating style.
As a former supermarket dietitian, I always cringed a bit when people took the saying “only shop the perimeter of the grocery store” literally. Yes, the perimeter of the grocery store is where you will buy most of your fresh, whole foods such as produce, meats and dairy. Those items should definitely take up a significant portion in your shopping cart.
However, there are still many healthy foods to select in the center of the grocery store. All you need to do is weed your way through the center store’s (both good and not-so-good) options, and make smart choices.
Here are just a handful of examples of good-for-you foods that are available in the center of your grocery store.
Dried herbs and spices. Add flavor to your meals without adding additional calories or salt. Herbs and spices also can offer some protective antioxidant health benefits. If you feel overwhelmed by the options in the supermarket aisle then I suggest that you start with trying more common spices such as oregano and thyme that work well in many different dishes. As you become more confident in the kitchen then you can be bolder in your use of herbs and spices.
Whole grains (brown rice, wild rice, farro, oats, quinoa, barley etc.). Have you seen the fiber content of whole grains? When the daily fiber goal is 25 grams for women and 35 grams for men, whole grains can help get you there. Plus, fiber is great for stabilizing blood sugars, lowering cholesterol levels and ultimately helping you feel full faster and for longer.
Nuts and nut butters. The healthiest nuts include: almonds, pecans, walnuts, peanuts, cashews, pine nuts and my personal favorite pistachios. An excellent source of nutrition here, and make a nice salty, crunchy snack option. Just be careful of your portion size as the calories can add up quickly. A small handful is a serving size.
Canned or frozen fruits and vegetables. When fresh produce isn’t an ideal option for you, it’s perfectly acceptable to buy canned or frozen. The most important factor about fruits and vegetables is that you eat them. Whether they came fresh, frozen, canned or were eaten raw or cooked, all that matters is that you include them in your diet.
Canned or dried beans. A good source of protein, B-vitamins and fiber, and very versatile to use in cooking. Dried beans are very easy to cook up in a slow cooker, and canned beans are often available in no-salt-added options.
Now, let’s hear from you. What are your go-to healthy items in the center aisles of the supermarket?