Food 101: Grocery Shopping
Tips for students making their first trip to the market
For many upperclassmen, moving to apartments on or off campus offers plenty of thrills. But they may quickly find themselves missing some of the creature comforts of dormitory living: bathrooms no longer just clean themselves, and dining halls with numerous entrée options give way to a kitchen stocked with nothing but Ramen noodles, pasta, and a can of tuna. How are you going to eat well, especially if you’re on a budget?
To help answer that question, BU Today introduces a new series, Food 101. We’ll show you how to buy, prepare, and cook affordable and delicious meals in your apartment. Not sure what kind of pots, knives, or spices you’ll need? You can learn right here in the coming weeks.
Since the first step to good cooking is knowing how to shop for healthy ingredients, we decided to begin with a primer on grocery shopping. We asked Stacey Zawacki (SAR’98, SPH’13), director of the BU Sargent Choice Nutrition Center to give us a tour of a local supermarket to offer tips on buying fresh produce and protein-rich foods. With some care and planning, she says, you can get all of your groceries for the week in one visit without the worry and expense of spoilage. For starters, Zawacki offers these tips:
Fruits and vegetables
- Most people don’t eat enough of these nutrient-rich superstars: aim for two servings of fruits and three of vegetables each day.
- A mixture of ripe and unripe produce will get you through the week. Broccoli will outlast lettuce. Green bananas will be yellow and ready to eat once you finish your berries.
- Not sure how to tell if it’s ripe? Don’t hesitate to ask the produce manager.
- For the best quality, buy fresh produce when it is in season. Frozen fruits and vegetables are a nutritious and convenient alternative when fresh can’t be had. Cauliflower and blueberries, for example, are picked and flash-frozen at the peak of harvest and can be served anytime.
- The leanest cuts of meat include skinless chicken and turkey breast. “Select” grades of meat such as sirloin and round are often healthier and more affordable than “prime” cuts.
- Choose a small piece of salmon twice a week for a delicious dose of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
- For the best quality, eat fresh fish the same day you buy it. Frozen or canned varieties are more affordable and convenient.
- You don’t need to be a vegetarian to enjoy the health benefits of plant proteins like nuts, beans, hummus, and tofu. Think “flexitarian”: meat-free is good for the environment and your wallet.
A healthy shopping list and more
- A complete list of ingredients to stock your healthy pantry can be found on the Sargent Choice Healthy Shopping List.
- Interested in a cooking class or a counseling session with a registered dietitian? Check out all of the resources available to students at the Sargent Choice Nutrition Center website.
“I hope this series will help make cooking healthy, delicious meals a reality for students setting up their first kitchen,” says Zawacki.
Do you have questions about grocery shopping? Leave them in the comments section below. Beginning today, Monday, October 3, through Wednesday, October 5, Stacey Zawacki and Sargent Choice Nutrition Center nutritionists will answer your questions.7 Comments