Shoppers pressed for time should stick to the fast track around the outer aisles of the supermarket for nutritious, reliable staples, according to home economist Gloria Brown of the University of California Cooperative Extension.
"This is a great way to shop if you are in a hurry and concentrating on getting most nutritious foods for your family," said Brown, also with the Dairy Council of California. "Try staying away from the inner aisles, where impulse buying can get you into trouble with high-calorie foods.
Brown suggested starting with the meat section since most lunches and dinners are planned around this core group. Two daily servings from the meat group give the average healthy child and adult plenty of protein and iron.
Next, move to the dairy case, where you can stock up on milk, cheeses and good lunchtime foods like yogurt or cottage cheese. The dairy group provides calcium, important for strong bones throughout life, and other essential nutrients. Children and adult women should have three daily dairy group servings; men need two daily servings. Teen-agers, pregnant and post-menopausal women should have four daily servings.
Round out the week's menu with fruits and vegetables. The recommended number of daily servings for children and adults is four for Vitamins A and C and fiber.
"For breads and cereals, most people get into danger right off the bat in the 'high-impulse area' near the bakery. I have found it is best to get the basic breads and cereals last, and check out before you are tempted by the sugary items," Brown said.
Children and adults should have four daily servings from the breads and cereals group for B vitamins and fiber.