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shopping

Walking through the grocery store pushing a shopping cart, trying to remember all the things on your list that you forgot to bring with you and trying to stay on budget all while wrangling your children can make for a chaotic grocery shopping experience.  It can be easy to skip over the healthy stuff and just grab what is quick and easy.  We all want to eat more healthy foods, give our children healthy snack options and cook healthy, flavorful meals, but it isn’t always easy to focused on that while being tempted by so many unhealthy, yummy alternatives at the grocery store.

There are a few tricks to navigating the grocery store so that you stay on task (buying healthy foods for your family):

  • Always make a list.  Determine what meals you will prepare before hand so you know what ingredients to buy and so you won’t be tempted by easy, prepared foods.
  • Shop on a full stomach.  It is a lot easier to be tempted by unhealthy food options when your stomach is growling.
  • Know what the healthy options are in each section of the store.
    • Breads: look for whole wheat or whole grain options.  Also look for breads that offer lots of fiber.
    • Pastas, cereals and rice: look for whole grain options, and options that are lower in sugar.
    • Produce:  you can’t go wrong in this section.  Be generous and fill your cart with lots of fruits and veggies.
    • Dairy: looks for low fat options such as skim or 1% for milk, yogurt and cheeses.
    • Meat: look for lean poultry and fish.  Limit your red meats and when you do purchase red meats opt for lean cuts.
    • Snacks: Limit the processed snacks you purchase.  Look for baked options and light popcorn.
  • Try to buy for the full week or two weeks so you can avoid additional trips to the store.  You are more likely to purchase extra, unhealthy items the more often you are at the store.

The key is to know what you want before you get there, filling your cart with fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy so there isn’t much room for unhealthy sugary or salty snacks.  I always forget to make a list, but when I do I find a make much better food choices and am much less likely to have to go back to the store again for stuff I forgot.

What tricks do you use to navigate the grocery store so that you are making healthy choices?

Every parent knows that back to school shopping can get expensive.  Between the new clothes, the new shoes and all the school supplies it can really add up.  Many State governments offer parents a bit of a break by offering a tax holiday in the weeks leading up to the beginning of the new school year.  Some states offer a weekend of tax free shopping for certain items while others offer a whole week.

Listed below is are the States that offer tax holidays including when the holiday is for 2009 and on what items it applies.  You can always contact your local state government if you have questions about the tax holiday in your state.

Alabama: August 7-9 on clothing-$100, computers-$750, books-$30, school supplies-$50

Connecticut: August 16-22 on clothing and footwear-$300

District of Columbia: August 1-9 on clothing-$100, school supplies-$100

Georgia: July 30-Aug 2 on school supplies-$20, clothing-$100, computers-$1500

Iowa: August 7-8 on clothing-$100

Mississippi: July 31-Aug 1 on clothing and footwear-$100

Missouri: August 7-9 on clothing-$100, computers-$3500, school supplies-$50

New Mexico: August 7-9 on clothing-$100, computers-$1000, school supplies-$15

North Carolina: Aug 7-9 on clothing-$100, school supplies-$100, computers-$3500

Oklahoma: August 7-9 on clothing-$100

South Carolina: August 7-9 on clothing, school supplies and computers (no price limit specified)

Tennessee: August 7-9 on clothing-$100, school supplies-$100, computers-$1500

Texas: August 21-23 on clothing, backpacks and school supplies-$100

Virginia: August 7-9 on clothing-$100, school supplies-$20

The idea of tax holidays is to ease the burden faced by many parents of trying to afford all of the gear and supplies necessary for back to school.  It isn’t necessarily much but every little bit helps.  Of course, this also means you’ll be shopping the same weekend as everyone else in your state for back to school supplies to be prepared for crowds!!

Do you usually take advantage of the tax holiday offered in your state?  Do you find it makes much difference in how much you have to spend?