NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Grocery Shopping List Reminders

Grocery Shopping List Reminders


It would be hard to not notice the recent upward movement of grocery prices.   Stretching those food dollars AND eating healthy may seem an impossible task.   What can be added to a grocery list to save money and enjoy the healthiest foods possible for your family? Try some of the following tips for budget family favorites.

Is choosing fat-free always best?  Many vitamins need the presence of fat so they can be absorbed and do their job. But there’s more to it than that. In order to maintain a comparable product, manufacturers often replace the fat they removed with added sugar. If you are choosing a fat-free product, be sure to also compare its sugar content with a similar product that contains fat. You may be surprised to find out which one has less sugar in it.

Be alert for added sugar and sodium.  When it comes to eating healthfully, the closer you can get to the real thing the better. In the case of many processed and pre-packaged foods, manufacturers need to add salt and/or sugar to maintain their freshness and increase their shelf life.  Products in their most natural form, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole-grain products, lean meats, and low-fat dairy will not contain those additives.

Remember to read the ingredient list.  It is important to note that the ingredient listed first is going to be present in the highest amount. The remaining ingredients are then listed in decreasing order.  If sugar is the first ingredient, you may want to pass on the product.  It likely offers few nutrients but lots of calories.     What makes a product organic?  A food marketed as organic must contain 70 percent organically produced ingredients to be labeled as USDA Organic. Organic foods are produced without the use of irradiation, sewage, and genetic modifications. Being organic does not necessarily mean the food contains more nutrients than non-organic foods.  Also, organic products are not necessarily pesticide-free.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the info on food labels.   There are very specific regulations for the nutrient claims labels promote.  The current definitions include:

-  Free. This term means that a product contains no amount of, or only trivial amounts of, one or more of these components: fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, sugars, and calories. For example, “calorie-free” means fewer than 5 calories per serving, and “sugar-free” and “fat-free” both mean less than 0.5 g per serving. Synonyms for “free” include “without,” “no,” and “zero.”

-  Low. This term can be used on foods that can be eaten frequently without exceeding dietary guidelines for one or more of these components: fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, and calories.

• Low fat: 3 g or less per serving

• Low saturated fat: 1 g or less per serving

• Low sodium: 140 mg or less per serving

• Very low sodium: 35 mg or less per serving

• Low cholesterol: 20 mg or less and 2 g or less of saturated fat per serving

• Low calorie: 40 calories or less per serving.

-  High. This term can be used if the food contains 20 percent or more of the Daily Value for a particular nutrient in a serving.

-  Good source. This term means that one serving of a food contains 10 percent to 19 percent of the Daily Value for a particular nutrient.

-  Reduced. This term means that a product contains at least 25 percent less of a nutrient or of calories than the regular product.

-  Less. This term means that a food contains 25 percent less of a nutrient or of calories than the reference food. For example, pretzels that have 25 percent less fat than potato chips could carry a “less” claim. “Fewer” is an acceptable synonym.

-  Light. This can mean two things:

• First, that a product contains one-third fewer calories or half the fat of the reference food. If the food derives 50 percent or more of its calories from fat, the reduction must be 50 percent of the fat.

• Second, that the sodium content of a low-calorie, low-fat food has been reduced by 50 percent. In addition, “light in sodium” may be used on food in which the sodium content has been reduced by at least 50 percent.

-  More. This term means that a serving of food contains a nutrient that is at least 10 percent of the Daily Value more a comparable  food.

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