Your health must be your top priority. A resilient immune system is your primary defense against potential health dangers at any given time.
One excellent way of ensuring that you maintain a healthy mind and body is to eat fruits and vegetables regularly. However, this will only be effective if you know how to buy only the freshest and highest-quality produce at the supermarket.
The condition of the fruits and vegetables you purchase will affect the number of nutrients it contains. To guarantee that you bring home only the most nutritious produce and get the most out of your money, here are 10 essential tips to keep in mind when shopping for the best produce at the leading grocery retailers in Saudi Arabia and worldwide.
1. Check the surface
Inspecting the product’s surface is probably the first thing you do when shopping for fruits and veggies. Generally, make sure there are no scratches, bruises, or bumps. Bacteria and other pathogens thrive in these areas, spreading to the rest of the produce. Also, damaged food is less tasty and nutritious.
After checking for blemishes and bruises, opt for produce with the brightest colors. A whitish or dull color indicates that the fruit or vegetable was deprived of nutrients and sun or is not yet fully ripe. For example, with cherries, green stems point to fresher fruits compared to those with brown stems. For strawberries, avoid ones with white tops as this signifies that they were picked before ripening.
2. Test how firm it is
The right amount of firmness varies from one fruit or vegetable to another. Comparing how firm several pieces are within the batch can be informative.
Root vegetables like potatoes, onions, and garlic must be firm to the touch. Avoid buying those that are too soft or with cracks. For citrus, however, avoid those that are too firm because they can be too dry inside.
3. Stick to what’s in season
Fruits and vegetables are best eaten when they are in season. At this time, they are more flavorful, easily accessible, and affordable. They are often sold at reputable supermarkets near you.
Though worldwide farming has made it possible for you to enjoy lots of ingredients any time of the year, keeping the current seasons in mind is still essential when choosing produce. Fruits flown in from other countries are not just expensive, but the carbon footprint tends to be higher as well. Its nutrient value can also drop significantly since it has been off the vine or tree for some time and has traveled far.
Thus, it would be best to know which fruits and vegetables are widely available in your location during a specific time. Also, plan your shopping list accordingly to ensure high nutrient content and freshness.
4. Choose corn from the top of a pile
Ears of corn are often piled high in supermarkets. Most shoppers would prefer digging for the ones underneath, thinking that they are a better option. But as corn gets warmer, they rapidly lose their sweet taste. The heat created by the corn on top of the pile will make those at the bottom less sweet.
When you go grocery shopping and you want to buy corn, don’t dig for the bottom of the stack. Instead, get the ears that are on top.
5. Use the store’s scales
Typically, go for produce that is heavy for their size. Lightweight fruits tend to be dry, but heavier ones will be crisp and juicy.
Use the store’s weighing scale to determine the heaviest item, especially if you are buying by piece. Pick two or three same-sized fruits and weigh them. The heavier ones are your best options.
This applies to pre-packed bags of produce as well. Though it may specify a particular weight, consider weighing the bags of apples, carrots, or potatoes again to determine which provides the best value for your money.
6. Look for pale patches
If you have been avoiding watermelon and other produce with a pale patch on one side, now is the best time to end such a practice. This is actually a good sign as this indicates that it was lying in the field when it ripened. Thus, they tend to be sweeter and juicier than the rest.
7. Go for deflated bags of lettuce
When purchasing pre-washed lettuce, go for the most deflated, thinnest bag. This vegetable produces gas as it ripens, so stay away from puffy bags as this means that it has been sitting on the shelf for quite some time and will definitely go bad quicker.
8. Smell the produce
The aroma of the produce can offer significant information about how ripe it is. Well-ripened harvest smells slightly of how it should taste while unripe ones will smell like nothing.
Gather some fruits and smell the areas that are attached to the stem. The fruit with the strongest smell will be the most ripe. But if you wish to get one that will last for days, go for a less overpowering scent.
Smelling vegetables is also possible, but not applicable to all. Herbs and green leafy veggies are fragrant. Squash, carrots, and artichokes have a distinctive smell.
9. Avoid frozen vegetables with frost
Frozen vegetables are also great options, especially if you are craving off-season produce. However, you must avoid packages with frost on them as this indicates that it has been thawed and refrozen. Give it a quick squeeze, too – previously thawed and refrozen food tends to be solid and must be avoided.
10. Buy in small amounts
Fresh fruits and vegetables typically do not last long. To ensure that you eat them fresh without throwing any out, buy them frequently and only in small amounts.
For produce you often use or those with a longer lifespan, buying them in bulk is more cost-effective. Frozen or canned veggies or fruits can be purchased in large quantities, especially if they are on sale. Wholesale frozen potatoes, for instance, are a good purchase.
There are several important considerations to keep in mind when buying produce at the supermarket. Equipping yourself with these essential tips will help ensure that you buy only the best and most nutritious produce at the best possible price. Making the choice to eat healthy does not have to be too expensive, after all. You can consume fruits and vegetables that will help boost your health without hurting your wallet.