By Katie Boles, Registered Dietitian with Brenner FIT (part of Brenner Children’s Hospital/Wake Forest Baptist Health )

If you are near a TV at 9:30 this morning, tune to FOX 8 News to see today’s guest blogger present these tips live to Shannon Smith during the Mommy Matters segment!

You may know what your family likes to eat, but do you question if it is the best choice? Knowing what to choose and what to look for at the grocery store can be challenging. Don’t let it overwhelm you! Registered dietitians with the Brenner FIT program at Brenner Children’s Hospital work with families to plan meals ahead of time and prepare for their grocery shopping trip. Meal planning & being prepared at the grocery store helps to save time and money and allows parents to offer more balanced meals focusing on health and variety.

Have you ever opened the refrigerator after a long day and thought, “What’s for dinner?” You then decide to run through the drive through because you don’t know what to cook! A family of four will spend $20-30 on three combo meals and a kid’s meal at a local fast food restaurant. A similar meal would cost approximately $10-12 when prepared at home. Even if the price is right at home, does it still feel like waiting in the fast food line is easier? Balanced meals do not have to be complicated and take long to prepare.

When going to the grocery store, take a few steps to prepare yourself and get the most from your time there.But when you get there, try not to compare every nutrition label! Here are a few tips on what to look for in certain areas of the grocery store:

Fruits and Vegetables
~ You can buy fruits and vegetables fresh, frozen or canned.

~ If purchasing fresh produce, look for the grocery store’s produce department book. If you have never seen this book, ask a store associate to help you locate it. It will provide information on how to pick each fruit and vegetable, store it, and cook it. Brenner FIT loves roasting fresh vegetables…especially asparagus and Brussels sprouts! Give them a try!

~ If you are purchasing canned fruit, look for fruit packed in its own juice, in water or in light syrup. These will be lower in sugar. When purchasing canned vegetables, choose vegetables that say “lower in sodium” on the front of the package.

~ Another option is to purchase frozen fruits or vegetables. Steam bags of vegetables are a great way to get a veggie on the table in just a few minutes! Add frozen fruit to cereal, yogurt, desserts or as part of a balanced meal.

~ When it comes to purchasing grain products, aim for grains that are higher in fiber. Fiber helps to keep us fuller longer. It also aids in digestion and lowering cholesterol.

~ When comparing breads, look for a 100% whole wheat bread with at least 2 grams of fiber per slice. Choose cereals, crackers, tortillas and other grain products with at least 3 grams (or more.)

~ Look for lean sources of protein.

~ If choosing ground beef compare the calorie, fat and protein content between the different types. Have you ever tried Ground Turkey Breast? Many people choose Ground Turkey in efforts to have a more lean protein, however, Ground Turkey Breast is the leanest option. Not only can you compare the nutrition label next time you are at the store, but you can also compare the price. You may be surprised to see that ground turkey breast costs less per ounce.

~ Fish cooks quickly and can be a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Purchase a frozen bag of shrimp to make a quick stir-fry or grill salmon to throw on top of a salad.

~ Don’t forget that beans are also a great source of protein. You can substitute beans for an animal protein and have a vegetarian meal each week. Open a can of black beans; add salsa, peppers, guacamole, lettuce and cheese for a black bean burrito.

For more information on what to look for at the grocery store, attend Brenner FIT’s next Grocery Store Tour on Thursday, January 24th at 5:30pm. To register, call 713-2348 or visit

Other Upcoming Brenner FIT Programs
~ My Kids are Driving Me Crazy : Feb 19th @ 6pm
Discover how to replace punishment with respectful and effective tools to bring more joy into parenting. Each month we discuss a different parenting topic. This month the topic will be Listening. This class is a Positive Discipline based class, taught by certified Positive Discipline parent educators.

~ Secrets to Planning Meals for Your Family: Feb 21st @ 5:30pm
Tired of not having an answer when your family asks “What’s for dinner?” Join us to learn the in’s and out’s of meal planning and walk away with fun new ideas and a personalized meal plan for your family.

~ Secrets to Fueling Your Family: March 25th @ 5:30pm
This discussion based class helps families learn the basics of what and when to eat to keep your family satisfied. Join our registered dietitians for this interactive nutrition session.

Brenner FIT is a part of Wake Forest Baptist Health & Brenner Children’s Hospital. To register for other upcoming classes or find out more about Brenner FIT, call: 713-2348 or visit