Grocery shopping tips

grocery store aisle

When you keep your kitchen stocked with healthy food, you’re more likely to eat better, so shop for groceries regularly. Before you go, have your menu planned and shopping list written out. One more thing: don’t shop with an empty stomach!

Good to know...

  • Many healthy foods - produce, bread, dairy products, meat, eggs, etc. - are found in the outside aisles of the grocery store. Spend most of your time here. When shopping in the interior aisles, look for foods that have fewer ingredients and use the food labels to help you find the most nutritious choices.
  • Feature displays are there so you will spend more. Avoid impulse buys: stick to your list!
  • The unit pricing sticker on the shelf allows you to compare the unit price of different brands or sizes of foods to figure out which costs less.
  • While larger packages usually cost less “per unit,” only buy them if you will use up the food.
  • Generic or store brands are often similar in quality to name brands but cost less.
  • Most local supermarkets have a student discount day if you show your WatCard.

Read the nutrition facts panel and ingredients list

The ingredient list always appears on the food label unless it contains only one ingredient. The ingredients are listed by weight from most to least. People with food allergies should always read the ingredient list. On the nutrition facts panel you'll find:

  • Serving size. Compare the serving size on the package to the amount you eat.
  • Calories, protein, fat, etc. This tells you how much energy and other nutrients you get from 1 serving.
  • % Daily Value. This tells you if there is a little or a lot of a nutrient based on how much an average person needs in a day. 

You can learn more about the Nutrition Facts panel on the Health Canada website.

In general:

  • Choose foods with less of these: Fat, saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, sodium & sugar
  • Choose foods with more of these: Fibre, vitamins A & C, calcium, iron

Find these tips and more in our Eating Well cookbook (PDF).

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