GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — We've all been there before -- the fridge and pantry are empty at home and the thought of heading out to the grocery store is a little overwhelming. There are so many options, sales, people and other factors that can turn a quick trip into a nightmare. 

Mercy Health Registered Dietitian Sara Nychypor shares tips for navigating the grocery store, so you go home with healthy foods for your family.

8 tips that will help you shop better

  1. Timing matters! The busiest times are 4-6 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday. Wednesday is usually the best day for grocery deals/specials.
  2. Don't go hungry 
  3. Go with a list—Meal plan! 
  4. Shop the perimeter of the store: Visit the Produce, Meat, Dairy section. Avoid inner aisles where packaged and processed food are stocked. 
  5. Limit purchases to planned items needed for meal plan 
  6. Read labels
    • Nutrient claims, which are monitored by the FDA, indicates quantity of a nutrient in a food. Examples: Extra Lean, Fat Free, Low Fat, Reduced, Light, Low sodium, Good source
    • Health claims, which are monitored by the FDA, are the relationship between a nutrient and a health condition. Example: Good source of calcium, may reduce the risk of osteoporosis
    • Structure function claims and NOT regulated by the FDA. Examples: "improves memory," "boosts stamina," "relieves stress"
  7. Choose condiments with less sodium and less added sugar
  8. Choose whole grain cereals and bars with a short ingredient list and less added sugar 

4 flavor-packed healthy recipes

Scroll down below the recipes for a full grocery list!

Peanut Curry Chicken with Sweet Potato and Green Beans

  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • ½ lb. green beans, cut into 1in pieces
  • 1 T. olive oil 
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. boneless chicken breast, cubed
  • 2 T. curry powder 
  • 1 (15oz) can tomatoes, pureed 
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter


  1. Steam sweet potatoes until tender (5min in microwave safe bowl w/ small amount water)
  2. Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil, in a deep skillet or dutch oven
  3. Add chicken pieces and brown on all sides
  4. Add in curry powder
  5. Add in tomato sauce and broth, bring to boil and then reduce heat to simmer. 
  6. Add in peanut butter
  7. Add in sweet potatoes, green beans
  8. Cover and simmer for 15-20minutes until chicken is cooked through
  9. Serve over rice or with naan bread

Pulled Pork Sliders: 

  • ½ lb. pork tenderloin
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 tsp each: chili powder, garlic powder, dry mustard, cumin
  • ½ tsp paprika, ½ tsp thyme


  1. Mix all spices together with olive oil to make a "wet rub." Apply to pork loin with a basting brush. 
  2. Place in crock pot, cook on low for 8-10hours. Shred pork and serve on slider buns.

Black bean and Quinoa Enchilada Bake 

  • 1 cup quinoa- cook in 2 cups of water and juice of a half lime
  • 1 T olive oil 
  • ½ cup onion, chopped 
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red or yellow pepper, diced
  • 1 can low sodium corn, drained
  • 1 can low sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup salsa 
  • 1 ½ cup shredded Mexican blend cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook quinoa as noted above. In a sauce pan, sauté onion, garlic and peppers in olive oil. Mix together quinoa, onion, garlic, peppers, corn, beans, salsa and 1 cup of cheese. Turn mixture into baking dish, top with remaining cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes. 

Zesty Salmon Patties with Lime Sauce 
Sauce Ingredients: 

  • 2T lime juice + zest from lime
  • ½ cup light may
  • ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt

Patty Ingredients: 

  • 12oz salmon flakes (can use fresh cooked salmon or canned salmon) 
  • ½ cup finely chopped red pepper
  • 1 T finely chopped green onion
  • ½ cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs, divided into two ¼ cups 
  • ½ cup light mayo
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 T. Dijon mustard
  • 1 T. chopped fresh dill


Mix sauce ingredients, set aside. Mix together patty ingredients except for ¼ cup panko, form into patties. Use additional bread crumbs to coat outside of patties. Heat oil on flattop, brown on both sides. Top with lime sauce. 

Here's the grocery list you'll need

This list will provide all ingredients needed for dinner recipes, plus addition of a salad for meals and breakfast and lunch items. Review list before you go to the store to cross out what you already have in your kitchen! 


  • Limes x2
  • Red pepper
  • Yellow pepper
  • Green onion bunch
  • White onion x2
  • Garlic clove x2
  • Fresh dill
  • Sweet potato x2
  • ½ lb. green beans
  • Snacking fruit- oranges, apples, grapes
  • Romaine hearts or favorite lettuce
  • Carrots 


  • Salmon (fresh or canned) -12oz
  • Boneless chicken breast- 1lb.
  • Pork tenderloin- 1- 1 ½ lb.
  • Deli meat (low fat/low sodium)
  • Tuna (canned) 


  • Caesar dressing or other salad dressing- light
  • Olive oil
  • Dijon mustard
  • Mayonnaise- olive oil, or light version
  • Salsa
  • Peanut butter

Canned goods: 

  • 15oz tomatoes or tomato sauce
  • Canned corn- low sodium
  • Canned black beans- low sodium
  • Chicken broth- 16oz- low sodium


  • curry powder
  • chili powder
  • garlic powder
  • cumin
  • dry mustard
  • paprika
  • dried thyme


  • Quinoa
  • Brown rice
  • Naan
  • Slider buns
  • Tortilla chips
  • Nutrigrain bars
  • Fig bars 
  • Plain oatmeal 
  • Whole grain bread or wraps


  • Plain Greek yogurt 
  • Shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • Sliced provolone or Swiss cheese
  • Eggs 
  • Milk 

Information and recipes courtesy of Sara Nychypor, RDN.


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