Preparing college students for healthy grocery shopping

Hands-on learning is an important lesson for young adults learning to live on their own in an uncertain world filled with clever (sometimes deceptive) labeling, limited time and often meager resources. Companies like Albertsons and the internet make planning shopping trips easier, even for the kid who’d rather spend his time shopping the Wii store or shoe shop than vibing on vegetables from the grocers.

Thanks to the Albertsons Gluten Free Food Finder college kids and parents alike can, according to the site, “easily add items to your shopping list with our gluten-free food finder, featuring many of the gluten-free options available in our stores.”

While choices made at colleges will probably still revolve around a few gluten free cookies or crackers here and there on gaming nights with friends, at least there’s a quick, easy tool for locating the wheat-free wonders of the supermarket.

Imagine: Your college students have the ability to choose easy, affordable, meal ideas and ingredients choices on their own.
They might feel empowered.
They might feel healthier than ever while saving a few bucks.
They might even proclaim their love for having the best. Mom. ever for sharing this easy search engine with them instead of micromanaging their cupboards from home.
They might even do their laundry before they come to visit.

But then I get carried away…


Five shopping tips for college prep:

Since we’re talking a kid who’s probably too busy to call home (but who has enough time for an Angry Birds marathon when a Chem final is looming), try this hands-on activity with with your college kiddos in their college town. Keep the process fun and light. Nothing’s worse than a lecture, even if we Moms give awesomesauce lectures.

1. Get ‘Net. Kids use the ‘net, so use the tool for good grub. Spend just 5 minutes to shop local grocery store bargains with your sharp shoppers online. Look for things like printable coupons that might help save a buck or two on the items kids use most.

2. A-List. Make a list of quick, easy snacks (mini cheeses, string cheese, pepperoni slices), as well as meal-based items they can prepare for later. Be realistic and know kids are going to occasionally want those gluten free cookies, so make sure they build these occasional treats into their lists to stave off a slew of impulse purchases that can wreck their waistline as well as their budget later. Going away to college should be about making healthier choices, without worrying about making perfect ones.

3. The Outsiders. With a list already in hand, shop the perimeter of the store for rich produce, delicious meats, cheeses and other necessities (don’t forget a good, gluten-free multivitamin and deodrant). Teach that fruits and vegetables in bunches can sometimes be halved for single-person, weekly use, to shop for the perfect produce, and to check prices, since organic foods can be more expensive (and unnecessary).

4. Aisle Beguile. Shop inner aisles with your gluten free master list as your guide. Pick up shelf stable Alberstons favorites like Hansen’s Diet Cola (sweetened with sucralose), soy-free Starkist Albacore Tuna, Blue Diamond Unsweetened Almond Milk, and Ideal Blend Sweeteners in Brown Sugar and Standard white. Be on the look-out for protein-fat based foods when possible, since these are most filling, and be sure to read those labels–even soups may contain wheat as a thickener.

5. Myth Busters. They say to never shop when hungry because shoppers, especially without your shopping experience, will make less healthy choices. I say Bah! This is the perfect time to teach shopping under less-than-stellar circumstances, since life is filled with hunger, sickness and bad hair days. Critical thinking is taught, so this is the time to make sure to stick to your list, and enjoy your string cheese or a
quick handful of macadamia nuts, to assuage hunger pains on the way home.
(In fact, being hungry should mean less time dawdling and being tempted by the chip aisle and more time action-based shopping to get in and out.)
Win an Albertsons $25 Gift Card!

So how about it, Moms, Dads and Grads? Ready to try these tips for yourselves? Now you can win one of two Albertsons Gift Cards, each valued at $25. Simply:

1. Share this article link with friends who may or may not already have kids away at college. Use your favorite social networking tool, email, or post this link to your favorite mailing list and discuss ways to shop healthfully, prepared and practically perfect every time!

2. Once you share, email me at YourLighterSide@gmail.com with the email title “Gluten Free Me!” and tell me how you shared the link, and you’re automatically entered into a drawing to win one of two $25 gift cards from Albertsons.

3. Make sure to enter by Thursday, September 28 at midnight MST! Names will be drawn and announced Friday morning on this blog.

4. If you win… If you are contacted Friday morning by me, you will need to supply your name and mailing address and Albertsons will get your cards to you right away! As always, your personal information will then be deleted for your privacy and protection.

Disclaimer: This post is not paid for by Albertsons and does not represent their viewpoints, nor is this site being remunerated for this posting. Gift cards are provided by Albertsons free of charge.

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