Many U.S. shoppers like to picture themselves having the kind of lifestyle that affords the time to sit down to casual meals, spend some extra time in the kitchen to make new dishes, and the opportunity to assemble tasty appetizers for get-togethers with friends and family. Unfortunately for many of us, it doesn’t end up looking like this. Food often becomes a race to get meals on the table or digested before the next activity or commitment. Thankfully, eating well while moving in fast-forward can be accomplished when armed with great ideas using foods found wall to wall at the grocery store.
Usually, eating “on the go” translates to fast food, but with a small amount of planning, everything needed for eating on the run can be purchased from a retailer’s shelves. It may mean counting out freezer items or piping-hot meal ideas if traveling from home to another destination, but this still leaves plenty of options to pick from in the grocery store, including the center aisle, bakery, dairy, meat case, produce, and more. A good idea as we head into summer might be to assemble sample coolers near the lobby that showcase foods and beverages best enjoyed chilled, alongside attractive totes for hauling yummy ambient-temperature snacks for individuals and families.
The following are some healthy on-the-go food and beverage ideas from each of the food groups that dietitians want to see represented in a healthy diet.
Whole fruits, from grapes to strawberries, as well as fruits needing peeling, like bananas or oranges, can be thrown into a chilled bag and kept out of hot temperatures for easy nibbling. This would be a terrific time to educate shoppers on the healthfulness of canned and dried fruit — it offers the same nutrition as fresh fruit — via signage or in-store events. Consider marking down or offering digital coupons for shelf-stable fruit bowls packed in 100% juice, or no-sugar-added applesauce cups.
Veggies can be eaten cold outside of the home or a restaurant. Keep with this theme by pairing individual carrot, celery or peapod snack packs alongside dips such as light caramel, low-fat ranch dressing or hummus as a unique product combination. Offer a juicing station on a Saturday in your store for people to pick their own squeezed vegetable-and-herb combinations for a refreshing drink to garner excitement for this food group.
These include everything from bread to crackers and cereal. Display recipe cards in your bread aisle for new ideas for simple sandwiches using whole grain breads or hoagie rolls — banh mi rather than ham-and-cheese sandwiches, or an Italian caprese sandwich rather than a classic PB&J. Use this as a time to increase traffic to your sushi counter for easy premade sushi rolls using rice but also filled with avocado, carrots, ginger and cucumber.
Nature’s easiest protein delivery method when in a hurry is snacking on nuts and seeds. Expand your display of various trail mixes, fruit-and-nut mixes, flavored nut-and-seed packs, and canisters of nuts to show customers how effortless it can be to consume adequate protein while out and about. Other food options here include reduced-sodium animal or plant-based jerky or deli meat, peanut butter packs, or pouches/cans of fish or fishless tuna.
Yogurt, string cheese, cottage cheese cups or individual aseptic milk cartons all fit here as ways to obtain protein, calcium and vitamin D while hustling from place to place. Exhibit these products in a cooler near the self-checkout lane for time-strapped shoppers to grab for last-minute snacking.
Providing both convenient and healthy foods for your shoppers will help make your stores’ products relevant and contribute to a bigger basket.