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Warehouse Stores: Good for Your Diet?
Warehouse stores, such as Sam's Club, Costco and BJ's, have gotten a bad reputation when it comes to shopping for nutritious, wholesome food. I've heard various media outlets — as well as friends and family — blame these bulk food vendors for contributing to the fattening of America. They liken the large packages of food to our growing waistlines.
- Never go shopping hungry. You'll buy more than you need, and likely choose items that aren’t as nutritious.
- Avoid the samples! Those tempting samples look and smell delicious, but they are usually brimming with "bad" fat and more calories than you could imagine. (Another reason not to go shopping hungry!)
- Make a list ahead of time. And try not to deviate from it. I've made a few mistakes in my time, such as when I ended up with a bulk supply of a salad dressing that no one in my family likes.
- Share with your friends. Ask a friend if they would like to share any items with you, especially items that can spoil, such as fresh fruits and vegetables. I often share a large bag of carrots or bell peppers with my friends.
- Fresh: apples, berries, baby carrots, tomatoes, lettuce, bell peppers and citrus fruit
- Frozen: broccoli florets, vegetable medleys, berries, corn on the cob and edamame
- Eggs: Eggs often have a longer expiration date than you might think — often up to 6 weeks! That should give you plenty of time to consume these diet-friendly, protein-rich gems.
- Canned fish: Canned tuna and salmon last for months and make easy go-to lunch or dinner meals. But both can be quite pricey at a traditional grocery store. Look for tuna or salmon packed in water, as the fish packed in oil can also pack a heavy calorie punch.
- Chicken breasts: The large bags of boneless, skinless chicken breasts are probably my favorite warehouse items. I use them for basic grilled chicken, soups, stews and stir fries.
- Seafood: While there are many frozen seafood varieties to choose from, I have a few staples that I am always sure to keep on hand. Some of them include frozen shrimp (I prefer them to be raw/uncooked and cleaned), frozen orange roughy and frozen cod filets. These are easy to defrost and use in super-healthy meals without paying the higher price for fresh seafood.
- Nuts: Unsalted nuts are a healthy addition to your diet and a wonderful source of omega-3 fatty acids. I especially like almonds, walnuts and pistachios. In order to make them last longer (since you should only eat them in small portions to keep calories in check) you can freeze them and just leave a few days' worth in your pantry or fridge.
- Organic low-fat milk
- Low-fat or non-fat yogurt
- Individual wrapped cheese (Laughing Cow® wedges are a favorite, as well as string cheese)
- Coffee: I go for ground Dunkin’ Donuts® in both decaf and regular (I like to mix them together for "half caff").
- Home goods: Coffee filters, batteries, paper products, sponges, tissues ... I could go on and on.
- Beans and soup: I buy cans of garbanzo beans, kidney beans and black beans. They last almost forever and are good salad toppers or soup/chili additions. I also buy canned soup, which, aside from the high sodium, can be a good quick meal for my kids or me.