Shop Smart!

Children learn their eating habits from their day-to-day life experiences, especially at home! You have the power to influence what your family eats by making wise choices about the foods you bring into your home. Learning how to shop smart can make a world of difference in terms of how well your family eats.

Follow these Smart Shopping Tips next time you go shopping for your family.

A little Planning...

goes a long way! Plan your meals for the week and make a healthy grocery list before you go to the store. Include nutritious foods from each food group and follow our tips to make your choices count with Canada's Food Guide. Try to be adventurous and open-minded about the foods you choose.

Print a copy of the Mission Nutrition* Smart Shopping List to guide you.

Find out how to Avoid Power Struggles so you can create a positive eating environment.

Use the nutrition information on Food Labels to help you make wise choices.

Tip:Parents, remember that you are in charge of what foods are in your refrigerator and kitchen cupboards. Making a healthy shopping list and sticking to it is one of the best ways to encourage your family to eat well.

Smart Shopping Tips

Use these guidelines to help you make wise choices based on Canada's Food Guide. Focus on the 4 food groups and buy the basics:

  • Stock your refrigerator and kitchen cupboards with nutritious foods from the 4 food groups for your family to choose from. Make sure your grocery basket includes a good variety of:
  • Vegetables and Fruit
    • Opt for a variety of fresh, frozen, canned and dried vegetables and fruits.
    • Look for lower sodium canned vegetables and vegetable juices.
    • Choose fruit products without added sugar or syrup.
    • Buy 100% vegetable and fruit juices.
    • Substitute baked varieties for french fries or other fried vegetables.
    Grain Products
    • Use the Nutrition Facts table on food labels to compare cereals.
    • Look for cereals that contain whole grain and/or fibre.
    • Buy whole grain breads, baguettes, pita and wraps.
    • Substitute whole grain buns or bagels for croissants or pastries.
    • Look for lower fat and sodium reduced versions of crackers.
    • Try different whole grains such as barley, brown rice and quinoa.
    Milk and Alternatives
    • Make low fat milk or fortified soy beverage a permanent item on your grocery list.
    • Buy lower fat yogurt with a milk fat (M.F.) content of 2% M.F. or less.
    • Choose lower fat cheeses with 15% to 20% M.F. or less.
    • Opt for lower fat yogurt or sour cream as a substitute for regular sour cream.
    • Try low fat evaporated milk instead of cream or coffee whitener.
    Meat and Alternatives
    • Plan a couple of meals using meat alternatives like dried or canned beans or lentils or tofu each week.
    • Buy fresh or frozen fish that is not breaded, battered or deep-fried.
    • Select lean meats prepared without added fat, salt, rich sauces or gravy.
    • Choose a variety of nuts and seeds to add to cereals, salads and stir-fried vegetables.
    • Enjoy eggs as an alternative.
  • Plan to include a small amount - 30 to 45 mL (2 to 3 tablespoons) - of unsaturated fat each day, including vegetable oils, margarine and mayonnaise.
    • Use vegetable oils such as canola, olive and soybean.
    • Choose soft margarines that are low in saturated and trans fats.
    • Limit butter, hard margarine, lard and shortening.
  • Limit foods and beverages high in calories, fat, sugar or salt (sodium) such as:
    • cakes and pastries
    • chocolate and candies
    • cookies and granola bars
    • doughnuts and muffins
    • ice cream and frozen desserts
    • french fries, potato chips, nachos and other salty snacks
    • fruit flavoured drinks, soft drinks, sports and energy drinks
    • sweetened hot or cold drinks
  • Compare the Nutrition Facts on food labels to choose products that contain less fat, saturated fat, trans fat, sugar and sodium (salt). Keep in mind that the calories and nutrients listed are for the amount of food in the serving size listed at the top of the Nutrition Facts table.

Find more label reading tips at Healthy Eating is in Store for You.

Learn more about Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide.

Avoid Power Struggles

Many of the habits and ideas children get about foods are influenced by their parents at an early age. Try these tips to avoid getting into power struggles over food with your children at the grocery store and at home:

  • Don't grocery shop on an empty stomach and give your kids a snack before you get to the store when they're with you. You'll be less tempted by items not on your list.
  • Write out your grocery list ahead of time with your children's input. Make a rule of sticking to it when you get to the store. Let your kids help you by giving them specific tasks such as choosing a fruit that they like or crossing items off the grocery list as you put them in the cart.
  • Have some fun experimenting with new foods and recipes together. Look on the internet or in magazines for inspiration and put the ingredients you need on your shopping list.
  • You always do your best to set a good example. It's no secret your kids will do as you do, rather than as you say. Keep making healthy food choices and they'll likely follow your lead.
  • Remember that it may take up to 20 or 30 tries for children to develop a liking for a new food. Don't give up if your child refuses to eat a particular food, just try again another time.
  • Keep in mind we all have our likes and dislikes. Respect children's personal food likes and dislikes and remember that your children don't have to like or eat every food.
  • Try to make meals with foods your whole family enjoys. Making separate meals for picky eaters may just reinforce fussy eating habits. Let your children choose from what's on the table.
  • Resist the temptation to trade one food off against another. For example, encouraging kids to eat their vegetables to get their dessert sets eating vegetables up as a chore and the dessert as the good part of the meal.
  • Foods such as cookies, candy or ice cream can be a nice treat now and again for your kids, but do not make an ideal reward for good behaviour. Using food as a bargaining chip can set up unhealthy habits. A big hug, a compliment, a movie or a special outing are a much better idea.