10 Shop-By-The-Stars Insider Tips

  1. Dried fruit: often considered a healthy snack, most dried fruit is proportionally high in sugar for its nutritional content. Look for 2-3 Guiding Stars on items like dried cherries and dried mixed fruit.
  2. Cereal: Many times your favorite cereal comes in one version that is healthier than another. Examples are cereals with dried fruit like strawberries or nuts added to the original recipe.
  3. Chips: Check the Guiding Stars rating on chips. You’ll be surprised to find that some chips receive two stars, and they’re not the baked ones either!
  4. Convenience Foods: Just because you’re eating healthy doesn’t mean a microwave meal, pre-made entrée, or deli side is out of your reach. Just look for the green Guiding Stars label. They’re everywhere!
  5. Meat: You may notice very few Guiding Stars labels in the meat section. Check the scale label on the package. You’ll find the stars there.
  6. Pasta: Don’t assume whole wheat pasta is your only superior option. Consider enriched pastas as well, which contain ingredients like egg whites and omega-3s for improved nutrient density.
  7. Bread: If your kids don’t like dark breads, look for White Whole Wheat, which has a lighter flavor but the same nutritional benefits of traditional whole wheat. Try it as a substitute for hot dog buns as well, since regular buns—in addition to containing bleached flour–generally contain high fructose corn syrup.
  8. Vegetables: Frozen vegetables often boast a higher nutritional content than their fresh counterparts because they’re picked at the height of freshness and flash frozen within hours. But fresh veggies have the benefit of doubling as snacks and side dishes. So choose a combination to have the most options.
  9. Juice: In general, your best bet to finding the most nutritious juices for you and your family is to look first in the refrigerated juices in the produce section. There, you’ll not only find flash pasteurized and organic options, but you’ll also find smoothies and protein-enhanced options, higher in fiber and overall nutrition. If the higher price turns you off, remember that many of the smoothie-type juices can be diluted with water, stretching your dollar.
  10. Snacks and Treats: Guiding Stars rates all of the treats in the grocery store, and many of your favorites may actually get a star or two. But even if they don’t, focusing just a little extra time on your overall shopping strategy leaves room in the cart for a treat or two. You’ve earned it!
Guiding Stars Expert Chef (right) provides tips to get the healthiest experience in the grocery store
Guiding Stars Expert Chef (right) provides tips to get the healthiest experience in the grocery store

Guiding Stars Expert Chef Erin Dow balances three food worlds. As a mother of three young children, she’s fighting the battle every parent faces: how to keep her kids interested in the foods that keep them healthy. As the chef and owner of her catering company Eatswell Farm, she utilizes original recipes and techniques–focused on enhancing the enjoyment of locally-sourced ingredients–to best interpret the client’s vision. And as Consulting Executive Chef for Falmouth-based Professional Catering Services, a business specializing in production and backstage catering for concerts, she develops and executes menus that accommodate the strict nutritional requirements of the music industry elite. Erin and her family raise their own chicken for meat and eggs, have dabbled in pastured Narragansett turkeys, and have a very weedy but very large and productive garden.

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