6 Ways to Simplify Your Shopping and Meal Prep

1-Meal Planning by Color/Food Group

Many diets fail due to lack of flexibility. The most sustainable diets are those that don’t feel like a diet. Meal planning by color, where each color represents a food group, provides a balance of guidance and flexibility. Use a list of your favorite foods per food group and a plan for what food groups to eat per meal to ensure you’re meeting the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines at https://www.choosemyplate.gov/MyPlate-Daily-Checklist

2-Buying in Bulk

Having staples like chicken, turkey, frozen fish and tofu on hand can make last-minute meal preparation much easier. These staples can be turned into dozens of different dishes of varying complexity and prep time. Buying other shelf-stable (non-refrigerated) products in bulk online can also save time and money. Whether it’s a multipack of protein bars, a large box of pasta or a case of your favorite flavor of Avitae, buying in bulk can buy peace of mind.

3-Use a specific bag for meat to prevent cross-contamination

If you have reusable grocery bags, designate one or two bags for your raw meats. Using these bags only for raw meats can prevent cross-contamination of E. coli and salmonella because raw meat juices can leak from the package. Make sure raw fruit and raw vegetables are never put into a bag that once held raw meat.

4-Always keep meat on the bottom

Raw meat should always be on the bottom shelf. Whether it’s the bottom rack of your grocery cart or the bottom shelves of your refrigerator and freezer, putting the meat on the bottom reduces the risk of cross-contamination of other foods.

5-Cook main dishes in advance

If your weekdays are always hectic, try cooking meals on the weekend. Rice, pasta, spaghetti squash and meat can all be cooked ahead of time, then seasoned, sauced and paired to make different meals throughout the week.

6-Learn to decode Best-By, Use-By and Sell-By dates

Stop throwing out food prematurely by learning the meaning behind the different dates on food packaging.

  • Best-By – This date is a recommendation. After this date, the food is expected to lose some of its flavor and aroma.
  • Use-By – Similar to the Best-By date, food will lose its ideal quality after this date. The difference between Use-By and Best-By is that food with Use-By dates are expected to degrade much faster after the Use-By date.
  • Sell-By – This date is for the people selling the food. This does not mean the product is bad after this date, but the assumption is the food will be consumed shortly after the Sell-By date.
  • EXP Date – After this date, food may not be safe to consume and should be thrown away.