5 Tips for Effective Grocery Shopping this Holiday Season

By Elizabeth Carrillo, MPH, Program Manager, Institute for Hispanic Health, UnidosUS

With the holidays fast approaching, grocery shopping is likely to become one of the many tasks on our to-do lists this season. If the prospect of going into a grocery store in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any other holiday you celebrate gives you a bit of stress, don’t worry!

We’ve got simple tips for you from our Comprando Rico y Sano program that you can follow to make the experience a pleasant one, or at least a stress-free one.

Woman at the supermarket with her son buying groceries. | Healthy Eating | Healthy Food

Because let’s face it—we can all benefit from setting some health goals and establishing healthy eating habits during the holiday season. You can follow these five tips to keep yourself organized, and save money and time while grocery shopping.

RELATED: Tips and Resources for a Bacteria-Free Thanksgiving

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Tips and Resources for a Bacteria-Free Thanksgiving

By: Tanya Brown, Food Safety and Inspection Service Public Affairs Specialist, U.S. Department of Agriculture

More than 46 million turkeys are eaten on Thanksgiving Day and with the never-ending list of side dishes and desserts, it is by far the largest and most stressful meal many consumers prepare all year, leaving room for mistakes that can make guests sick.

“We receive an increase of calls on the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline around Thanksgiving because people are stressed and have a lot of questions about thawing and cooking their turkey,” says Marianne Gravely, senior technical specialist at USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. “Since this is such a large family feast, we want to make sure people prepare their food in a safe manner to avoid foodborne illness.”

Follow these tips and use these resources to help make this Thanksgiving feast a safe and healthy one.

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Shining a Spotlight on Opportunities to Build a Healthier Generation of Children

by David Thomsen, Policy Analyst, Health Policy Project, NCLR

Today, 40% of Latino children (seven million) are overweight or obese compared to 28% of non-Hispanic White children. September marks National Childhood Obesity Month and an opportunity for us to focus attention on the issue, which is threatening the quality of life for a generation of American children. Through various policy and advocacy efforts, we are working to ensure that all kids have the chance to lead a healthy life, no matter who they are, where they live, or how much their family earns.

When it comes to Latino children, access to healthy food is especially critical, as 24% are at risk of going hungry. So it’s timely that federal nutrition programs are up for reauthorization this year: it provides Congress with an opportunity to maintain the gains these critical programs have made to improve the health and well-being of America’s children.

Increasing Healthy Food Access for Latino Children at School

In addition to the various nutrition programs up for review, there are components of the current law that can help alleviate hunger today.

One key example is Community Eligibility. Schools nationwide, in which 40% of students automatically qualify for free lunch, can provide free school breakfast and lunch to all of their students. This is critical for Latino children, as they account for nearly one-third of those eligible for free and reduced-price school meals who are currently not participating. There are several reasons for these gaps, including issues related to the application process, language access difficulties, and the stigma of receiving a free meal.

Through Community Eligibility, schools can address each of these barriers. Studies show that adoption of Community Eligibility increases participation in the National School Lunch Program by 13% and participation in the School Breakfast Program by 25%. By taking advantage of an existing opportunity, schools can choose to provide two free school meals each day to those children most at risk of going hungry.

Increasing Healthier Options and Shaping a Healthier School Environment

Schools are such critical environments for a child’s development and well-being, especially for children experiencing issues related to hunger. These children consume up to 40% more of their daily calories at school compared to other children. Unfortunately, schools with a majority of Latino children may not provide the same healthy, nutritious options as other schools.

The good news is that existing local school wellness policies can provide parents and guardians with a platform to advocate for more nutritious food options. Strong nutrition standards for all food and drinks served in school can help reduce risk of obesity and overweight among Latino children. However, in order for these policies to work, schools must communicate their own wellness policies in a way that is culturally and linguistically meaningful for everyone. By ensuring that everyone has a seat at the table, we can ensure that food and drinks served to Latino children have the same nutritional value as those served to other kids.

Using All of Our Tools

National Childhood Obesity Month provides an opportunity for all of us to look at ways we can reduce disparities in hunger and obesity and invest in the health of all of America’s children, including Latino children. At NCLR, we will continue to use the various tools at our disposal to ensure that this generation of children does not become the first not to outlive their parents.

How to Pack Healthy School Lunches: Friday

The last, but certainly not least, of our school lunches this week comes to us by way of our Chief Financial Officer, Holly Blanchard, whose ten-year-old son, Eric, is in the fifth grade.

Here’s what Holly packed:

School lunch photo_forEric_Holly

  • Wrap pinwheels with low-fat ham, turkey, and salami
  • Low-fat string cheese
  • Carrots
  • Apple slices
  • Baked goldfish crackers
  • Water

Helpful tip: Be careful with added sugars and fat. Most of us, including children, consume more sugar than we should. An obvious tip is to limit cookies, snack cakes, doughnuts, brownies, and other sweet baked goods. Sweet baked goods are often packed with sugars, as well as saturated and trans fats. Remember that these are meant to be treats and consumed only in small portions, every once in a while—not every day. Sugar is also found in foods we often don’t think of as being “sugary,” such as juice. If you pack juice, make sure it’s 100 percent juice, which is not always the case with many of the popular juice drinks for children. Water is an even better choice. Milk is an excellent source of dairy, if you are mindful of recommended servings per day and choose low-fat or non-fat milk rather than whole milk, which has more fat and cholesterol.

Today’s meal rounds out our week-long look at examples of healthy school lunches. Be sure to read all our helpful tips and let us know what kind of lunches you’re packing for your kids!