Meal Planning: Choosing Ingredients Wisely

Choosing Ingredients Wisely  by Don R

picture of quick soups

(L-R) home-made lentil, Progresso, Coop Mix, Bear Creek, Healthy choice.

Food advertisements are often misleading. Cereal boxes claim their product is healthy because it is “High fiber”. Soup labels claim it’s “low sodium” and  flavored rice packages say “0g trans fats” to give the impression that they are healthy. You need to squint to read the ingredient label and realize they may be full of corn sugar (natural sweetener), preservatives (maintains freshness) and fillers (spices.) How do you know if it’s really healthy? It’s not as complicated as you think and here is a list to help you decide:

  • Start by filling your cart with whole, natural foods like fresh vegetables, whole grains, grass-fed meat and local fruit in season.
  • If buying packaged food, read the label to decide if it is minimally processed. Avoid the product if you see the words “hydrogenated”, “added dyes”, “MSG” or words you can’t pronounce.
  • nutrition-labelLook over the label for nutritional information. The Recommended Daily Intake of saturated fat is about 20g, carbohydrates 300g, protein 50g, fiber 20g, and salt 2400mg. How does your chosen product compare?  I’ve read labels (pizza) showing 30g saturated fat and 1500 mg sodium in just 1 serving. One slice of that pizza puts you over the recommended fat level.
  • When you find packages that have acceptable nutritional value, record the brand and product name on your planner for future reference.
  • Foods like cheap chicken nuggets and imported ground beef may contain irradiated meat scraps and fillers. Buy meat from local farmers or from food cooperatives so you are assured that it is naturally processed.
  • Buy bulk organic products in quantities that you will use within the month. Food that is fresh has more nutritional value.
  • If fresh vegetables and fruit are unavailable, buy frozen instead of canned goods.
  • You are pretty safe when buying foods listed in the George Mateljin foundation website listing the World’s 100 healthiest foods
  • When buying flour, get 100% whole grain or unbleached flour. White flour and instant rice lack many of the nutrients found in the whole variety.
  • Buy wild cold water fish. Farm-raised are often fed unnatural corn products.

If you have other suggestions, ,post them on our forum.