By: Kelsey Riggs, Garden & Wellness Coordinator
Our December Cooking Matters at the Store grocery store tour was a success! Alliance had the opportunity to team up with Interfaith Food Shuttle for their tour event day. The tour I co-facilitated was a blast! We had such a lovely group of participants who were eager to learn and were very successful at the end with the ten dollar challenge.
We met at 11:30 at Food Lion and began our tour. We teach economical meal planning from the perspective of trying to fill "My Plate", which demonstrates the five food groups to have at each meal and appropriate food quantity. As we move around the store, we learn helpful tips on buying healthy food on a budget and avoiding marketing or advertising tricks:
Tip #1: Purchase fresh fruits and vegetables IN SEASON! For example, buy strawberries in the summer! They will be delicious and appropriately priced. Do not buy strawberries in the fall, they are loaded with preservatives and are expensive because of travel costs since they must be transported from tropical areas.
Tip #2: Buy whole produce. Prepackaged and other “convenience” forms of produce (bagged, pre-cut, etc.) can cost more than whole forms (bundle of spinach or whole carrots) because you are paying for the “labor of processing.”
Tip #3: Pay attention to unit price. When comparing the cost of buying individually versus in bulk produce or buying the medium container of milk versus the large, do not be tricked!! Compare unit price to discover the truly better deal!
Once we finish our educational tour, our patients participate in "The Ten Dollar Challenge". They receive a Food Lion gift card for ten dollars, which which they must buy at least one item in every food group on "My Plate" that follows our healthy eating guidelines. The patients love this exercise! For one thing, they get a free re-usable grocery bag and ten dollars of free groceries. In addition, it gives them a chance to practice all the skills they just learned in the tour. They always come back with smiles on their faces. One patient of ours came up to me when we were checking her out and said, “This is just unreal. I can’t believe I’m getting all this for under ten dollars.” One hour at the store can positively change how these men and women grocery shop for the rest of their lives!