This blog is still a work in progress. I’m learning which stores in our area carry which products so I can shop when I’m close to them. As I have kept the running log in my head, I thought others might use it too.
As a mother of teenagers, I need to cook not only for myself but my family and find ways that they can enjoy a more healthful diet that they actually like and don’t just have to endure. I’m learning this is often a trade-off where we balance taste with money with fats with sodium with time to prepare foods.
In a perfect world, I would make my own salt-free Ranch dressing from non-fat yogurt (I’m developing a recipe now). I will no longer touch prepared Ranch dressings because of the salt and fat contents. However, if I needed to buy a bottle, I have noticed that often, the bacon-flavored Ranch dressings have the same amount of fat but less sodium than the regular-flavored ones. Go figure.
I’ve also found it’s crucial to read the fat and sodium content on breads, tortillas, crackers, etc. Don’t be swayed by the green packaging; read the label. Here’s where I can shop in my area and what I can get in each store. No single store carries all the low-salt items I might buy.
Wherever I shop, I spend most of my time in the perimeters – produce, dairy, meat, with quick ventures maybe to a canned good or else a dry good like beans or rice. The only canned goods I buy now are a few no-salt-added tomato products to make my own spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, and enchilada sauce, and to use as a base for chili or soups.
Aldi’s: great selection of produce, and their milk is marked as hormone free. They have several “fit and light” options. I love their hummus, but it wasn’t in stock the last time I shopped there. My favorite produce: fruit, potatoes, onions, avocados, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots. They carry nonfat plain yogurt which can substitute from other fatty creams in some dishes. They carry affordably priced flash frozen packages of swai and salmon, as well as other fish options.
Buehler’s IGA: nice selection of produce. They have light options throughout the store and carry Red Gold no-salt-added tomato juice. They also carry their own brand name fat-free cheese slices.
Ruler Foods: nice selection of traditional produce. Nice selection of cheaply priced frozen vegetable mixtures. Family size packages of frozen swai and salmon on sale. My favorite thing is their Kroger brand food products all have listed the calories, fat, sodium, and sugar on the front of the package. Then, I don’t have to stand at a freezer shelf, pull out each item, and read the backs. They carry fat free cottage cheese.
Schnuck’s: the biggest selection of low-salt, no-salt products. Fantastic selection of produce, especially greens like kale. Their chicken has no salt and no water added. (I wish they gave low salt as much room as they do gluten free.) Besides fat free dairy products, they also carry name brand and generic no-salt-added tomato juice and diced tomatoes (I can’t find no-salt-added tomato juice there). Their flash frozen fish (I love the swai and salmon) goes on sale in single serve packages. The best selection of Mrs. Dash products I’ve found – each of the different flavors really does give a different zing to foods. They carry fat free cheese slices, mozzarella, cheddar, and cream cheese, as well as sour cream and non-fat plain yogurt. They have generic unsalted nuts.
Walmart: Some low-salt, no-salt products. Good selection of produce, with a few greens. If you buy meat there, I like the nutrition labels on the back of the packages; just because something looks “natural” doesn’t mean it’s the lowest sodium option to select. They have nonfat cheeses. My favorite thing they carry is generic tomato sauce and diced tomatoes that is the cheapest price in town. In addition, they carry Rumford baking powder, which has half the sodium of regular baking powder and is also aluminum and gluten free.
Wesselman’s: nice selection of produce, in particular traditional food items. They carry Red Gold no-salt-added tomato juice but don’t carry other low or no sodium canned goods. They carry nonfat cheddar and mozzarella cheeses. They carry unsalted peanuts.
A caution with the prepared foods mentioned: I use them in moderation. It was almost scary to post this blog because I envision purists crucifying me for touching a prepared non-organic food. Well, this is what works for me. With the cheeses, cheese used to be one of my favorite foods. Instead of giving it up entirely, I’m now using it sparingly, almost as a garnish. The flavor is there, but not the fat. The problem with many non-fat food options is that they add sodium and other additives to make up for the lack of fat.
This list is by no means comprehensive, but it shows what I can buy where to live a healthier lifestyle. And now I want to know – when I scour stores to learn what low-salt, low-fat options they carry, does the time I spend walking the store count as exercise?