Part three of an installment on healthy, money-saving grocery shopping tips.
Find part one here: Preparing for Success
And Part two here: The Produce Section
Hopefully you haven’t all been waiting near the veggies for me to guide you through the next part of the store (sorry, it’s been awhile!). Today we are going to talk about the dairy section of the store where you can find cheese, yogurt, milk, eggs and some non-dairy milk alternatives (think soy and almond milk).
Eggs: These poor guys had a bad reputation for a long time. Turns out, the cholesterol in egg yolks isn’t as bad for your cholesterol as people used to think. Eggs are packed with protein, which helps repair muscles and keep you feeling full, and they are relatively inexpensive. I prefer to buy my eggs from a local farmer, but there are some good brands you can get at the grocery store. And eggs aren’t just for breakfast, try them for dinner in this recipe for poached eggs in tomato sauce with chickpeas and feta. Or top a lunch-time salad with a hard-boiled egg for a protein boost.
Milk: Milk is great for bone health, thanks to calcium and vitamin D, but did you know it also has approximately one full serving of protein in every 8-oz cup? I personally think 1% is the perfect harmony between flavor and health, but if you’re a skim drinker no need to switch. Dairy allergy or vegan? Soy milk, the unsweetened or plain variety is nutritionally similar to milk as far as protein, calcium and vitamin D go. Make sure to shake the milk before drinking because the vitamins and minerals settle at the bottom. Read the labels for vanilla, chocolate, and very vanilla flavors because they can pack a lot of added sugars (original Silk soy milk has 6 g sugar per serving, very vanilla has 16 g). Same goes for flavored almond, hemp, sunflower, rice and hazelnut milks. These can be a good option, but double-check to make sure you’re not buying what is mostly sugar-water.
Yogurt: Greek yogurt has EXPLODED in popularity in recent decades and for good reason. It’s higher in protein that regular yogurt and it’s just plain tasty. But even this nutrition darling can be really high in sugar. Your best bet is buying plain yogurt-greek or regular-and sweetening it up with some fruit. Yogurt provides calcium, vitamin D and protein-just like the milk it comes from! Just watch out for all the added sugar that may come along with it.
Cheese: Save the best for last? Cheese is known in the nutrition world as being high in sodium and saturated fat (true and true). However if you keep portion control in mind, it’s perfectly ok to eat cheese. The recommended one ounce serving size is not very much, but a small amount of flavorful cheese goes a long way. Also, limit the times of day in which you have cheese. For example, don’t start your day with an egg and cheese sandwich, have cheese pizza for lunch and eat a bean and cheese burrito for dinner. Vegetarians, who use cheese as a source of protein, and supreme cheese lovers need to be especially careful to keep an eye on cheese intake. Low-fat cheeses have been ridiculed for being flavorless but there are some decent one’s out there. Most mozzarella cheese is sold as 2% or part-skim, and Cabot cheese makes a really good 50% reduced-fat cheddar.
There you have it folks! Here are some take home tips from our trip down the dairy aisle:
- Pay attention to labels. Plain, low-fat dairy products are better for you than their full-fat, sugar sweetened counterparts.
- Pick organic if possible-I believe especially for this section of the store, that choosing organic is better for both you and the animals your milk and eggs come from!
- Don’t eat too much cheese! But yes, you can have a little of the good stuff.
What is your favorite item from this section of the store? I eat plain greek-yogurt almost every day (dolled up with fruit and/or granola), but cheese is a big favorite too!