Shop Smart: Avoid These 5 Grocery Store Foods June 29, 2016

by Eat

Don’t fall victim to grocery store traps luring you in. We’re busting myths and dishing out recipes to help you shop smart and get cooking.

granola-homemade-shop smart-HelloFresh

Let’s pretend for a second that you don’t subscribe to the amazingness that is HelloFresh and are left with no choice but to do all your shopping at the grocery store (** gasp **). You’re subject to bright fluorescent lights, long lines, crowded shelves, and a cart with one wheel that swings annoyingly to the left.

Call us dramatic, but you definitely know what we’re talking about. So if you’re going to shop at the grocery store, you might as well shop smart. This means steering clear of these five packaged items that are infinitely better for your wallet and your waistline when homemade.

1. Flavored Microwave Popcorn

spice-blend-homemade-shop smart-HelloFresh

Traditional microwave popcorn packs are loaded with fat (a good chunk of which is saturated) and sodium. No, thank you.

Shop smart by avoiding the nasty stuff entirely and making your own on the stovetop or with an air-popper. Then, get creative with toppings (hint hint: this is a perfect way to get the kids in the kitchen)!

Our in-house dietitian, Rebecca, loves a sprinkle of nutritional yeast flakes because it packs the flavor of traditional cheese without all the nasty fat (only 1/2 g in 1/4 cup!). And if you’re looking to eliminate salt entirely (without sacrificing flavor, of course) try this homemade spice blend that Freida, one of our HelloFresh chefs, loves:

Harissa Spice Blend

Combine the following:

  • 4 Parts Ground Cumin
  • 4 Parts Ground Coriander
  • 4 Parts Smoked Paprika
  • 1 Part Ground Caraway
  • 1 Part Garlic Powder
  • 1 Part Chili Powder
  • 2 Parts Aleppo Chili Flakes

It serves 2, although we can’t promise you’ll want to share.

2. Salad Dressing

salad-Dressings-shop smart-homemade-HelloFresh

Dress your greens in style by ditching the unnecessary fat, sugar, and sodium in store-bought dressings in favor of easy, homemade varieties… like this one:

Shallot-Balsamic Vinaigrette

In a small jar, shake together the following:

  • 1 Tablespoon Minced Shallot
  • 2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Honey
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)

Whereas traditional dressings can include a whopping 6 g of sugar and 230 mg of sodium for a meager 2 Tablespoons, this recipe boasts only 4 g of sugar and 65 mg of sodium per serving. How could you resist?

3. Guacamole

guacamole-avocado-homemade-shop smart-HelloFresh

When guacamole cravings hit, there’s no stopping you. Images of the creamy, lime-spiked dip nestled on top of crunchy corn tortilla chips are almost too much to handle. At the risk of sounding like a 2-year-old throwing a grocery store tantrum, you need it. And you need it now.

But whatever you do, don’t reach for store-bought varieties because, as Rebecca explains, they are often loaded with double to triple the amount of salt than you would ever add at home.

Be the boss of taco night by making the irresistible dip yourself!

Homemade Guacamole

Combine the following:

  • 1 Mashed Avocado
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Minced Shallot (to taste)
  • Lime Juice (to taste)
  • Minced Jalapeno (to taste)
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)

Get this: 2 Tablespoons of a popular store-bought kind has 210 mg sodium, but our version has only 75 mg for the same amount. In other words, time to double dip.

4. Granola

granola-homemade-shop smart-HelloFresh

Here at HelloFresh, we’re BIG fans of granola in pretty much every form – sprinkled over yogurt, loaded on top of smoothies, or eaten straight out of the bag (no shame). However, most store-bought granola brands send blood sugar through the roof. And as Rebecca reminds us, we should avoid or limit foods in which sugar is one of the first three ingredients. Lucky for us granola-lovers out there, making it from scratch is easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Nutty Granola

Toss together the following:

  • 3 Cups Rolled Oats
  • 3 Tablespoons Nuts
  • 3 Tablespoons Seeds
  • 3 Tablespoons Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
  • 3 Tablespoons Chopped Dried Fruit
  • 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil

Spread out on a baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, tossing once, until golden brown. Let cool and store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

This recipe yields 10 servings of crunchy goodness with only 4 g of sugar per serving.

5. Sweetened Yogurt or Oatmeal Packs

yogurt-shop smart-HelloFresh

Shop smart and start your day off right by skipping the pre-sweetened oatmeal or yogurt packs (some of which contain a staggering 38% of your daily recommended sugar intake). Instead, purchase unflavored varieties and top with your own fruit for a breakfast of champions.

Happy Cooking!

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Christine Ruback says:

These are GREAT ideas & recipes Jacqueline! Thanks for the advice.

Jacqueline says:

Thanks so much for reading, Christine. Happy cooking!!

Michelle says:

Yum!!!! Can’t wait to make my own Salad Dressing & Guacamole! Thanks Jacqueline! I love cooking with Hello Fresh!

Jacqueline says:

Michelle- We’re SO happy you’re part of the Fresh fam!!! Happy Cooking 🙂

sheila hicks says:

thanks for your helpful living ideas

Jacqueline says:

Sheila – of course! Thanks for reading. Happy Cooking 🙂

Jerri Arriola says:

Thank you so much for all of the wonderful food. I know my boyfriend is feeling better & I feel like I’m on MasterChef, although I don’t have Gordon Ramsay yelling at me. ?
I love that I am cooking things I have never tried before and putting things together that I never even thought of. Our dinners are like going to a restaurant but the only difference is I cooked it. Also, for two people, we get an awesome deal because there’s always enough for three people, sometimes there are enough leftovers for us both. We started out with one $29 box and honestly we loved that first box so much we thought we’d order maybe twice a month at the most. Now we are ordering every week and we find that our grocery bill has gone down significantly.

Jacqueline says:

Jerri – this just made our day! We’re so happy to hear how much you’re loving HelloFresh.

Esa Jee says:

Nice Blog. Keep Sharing 🙂

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