Grocery Store Take Out Meals: 8 Do’s and Don’ts

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Home Meal Replacement (HMR) is a fancy word for partially or fully prepared meals taken home for consumption; it was coined by Boston Market. Another buzzword for HMR is MealSolutions™, trademarked by the Food Marketing Institute for grocery stores. Jacqueline Marcus, MS, RD, LD, CNS, FADA, Private Consultant, Northfield, IL, has these tips for value and nutrition:

Do have it your way at food stations such as the stir-fry grill or salad bar. When in doubt, order it without added oils, sauces, gravies, etc., or put them on the side. Fill up on vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains.
Do check strict quality standards, such as when food was prepared; fast may not mean fresh. Get your meal home as quickly as possible, keeping cold food cold and hot food hot as best as possible. Reheat hot foods thoroughly.
Do look for heart-healthy options or request them. Ask that dishes be prepared without a heavy sauce or baked instead of fried. Calling ahead is a good idea to get what you want.
Do ask if menu suggestions and nutrient information are available.

Don’t assume dinners for two are portion sized - they might be dinner for four!
Don’t trade taste for health. Best selling Meal Solutions are Prime Rib with Mashed Potatoes, Turkey a la King, and Macaroni and Cheese-- typically loaded with calories and fat.
Don’t choose complete meals that have starchy side dishes and no vegetables.
Don’t consider “Great Value” meals a good deal, e.g., $6.99 for a whole chicken, potato salad, slaw, and rolls. This is not a nutritional bargain. Instead, buy a healthy, ready-to-serve entree and pair it with a ready-to-serve salad (from the produce section or salad bar) and heat-and-serve vegetables (from the produce section or freezer) for both value and nutrition.

By Jacqueline Marcus, MS, RD, LD, CNS, FADA

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