How to Learn Food Shopping for Your Loved One

Shopping for Food

If you are the caregiver for your loved one, that means you are also responsible for doing the grocery shopping. You can take them shopping with you if they can without becoming too tired. It’s great for maintaining their independence, and they will love the chance to spend time with you out in the community.

To make grocery shopping easier,  keep an organized list in the kitchen and write down things when they run out. Include items that are often replaced like milk, bread, soap, and toilet tissue.   Also, make sure that you purchase things according to the patient’s diet such as low-sodium, sugar substitute, and low-fat foods.  

Preparing for shopping

Be sure to check the pantry and refrigerator often for foods that are no longer good and throw them out. Always read the labels on the purchased foods to make sure that they follow along with the patients’ diet guidelines. Think of food shopping as a challenge. Your goal will be to get the most for your patients’ money by purchasing the best quality, most healthful foods and staying within the food budget.

Try to buy just what you and your loved ones will eat to avoid food waste. Did you know that 80 billion pounds of food are thrown away each year in the United States? It makes up 22% of solid waste sent to landfills. Careful shopping and proper food storage can prevent a lot of garbage.

Shopping Tips for Caregivers

They are shopping as a caregiver needs to be quick, organized, and efficient. When you have a loved one that is ill, time is of the essence. In addition, we all need to eat, so shopping for groceries is a basic necessity of life. Here are some tips to help you.

  • Know what you are going to cook for a week, month, etc.
  • Prepare a list with isle items, produce, meats, cold items.
  • Have all cupons ready for the check-out
  • Maintain personal distance from others to avoid other illnesses
  • Treat your loved one with a special treat to enjoy.

Terms to Remember

  • Light or lite—50 percent less fat per serving than the regular product
  • Low fat—3 grams of fat or less per serving
  • Fat-free—less than 1 gram of fat per serving
  • Low cholesterol—20 milligrams or less of cholesterol and less than 2 grams of saturated fat per serving
  • Cholesterol free—2 milligrams or less of cholesterol and 2 grams or less of saturated fat per serving
  • Low calorie—40 calories or less per serving
  • Calorie-free—less than 5 calories per serving
  • Reduced or less sodium—25 percent or less than the regular product
  • Light in sodium—50 percent or less than the regular product
  • Low sodium—140 milligrams or less of sodium per serving
  • Very low sodium—35 milligrams or less of sodium per serving
  • Sodium free—5 milligrams or less of sodium per serving
  • High fiber—5 grams or more of fiber per serving
  • Good source—contains 10 percent to 19 percent of the daily value for a certain nutrient
  • High in—contains 20 percent or more of the daily value for a certain nutrient

Look for the Freshest Produce

You should always check the label for the expiration date on the foods before purchasing. When shopping at the supermarket, always check the dates of food before making a purchase. Also, check the look of the food. Does it look and smell fresh? Frozen foods should be frozen, and refrigerated foods should be cold. Purchase these items last to prevent thawing. When leaving the grocery, check the receipt and make sure that the correct change was given. You will provide the grocery list, pass, and change to the patient to record the purchases.

Returning Home and Food Storage

When returning to the patient’s home, make sure the patient gets inside the house safely; then, you can go back to retrieve the food. All frozen and refrigerated items need to be put away first, followed by the pantry items. Try to use the items before the expiration date so they don’t go to waste. Proper storage is essential to maintain the quality and safety of food. Meat, poultry, and fish must be refrigerated immediately. Here is a video to help with storing food safely.

Guidelines for Food Storage


  • Use moisture-proof wrap; label dates on all packages.
  • Keep a list of freezer contents; any foods stored beyond appropriate time (Quality and safety may be questionable) should be discarded.
  • Food should not be stored any longer than one month beyond recommended time.


  • Wrap perishable foods to prevent mingling of taste and odors.
  • Wrap raw meat loosely.
  • Refrigerate leftovers immediately; wrap tightly to prevent drying out; use within 2-3 days.
  • Keep eggs cold; store inside the refrigerator, not on the door.


  • Use cool, dry storage areas; avoid damp and hot locations.
  • If pests are a problem, store dry goods (cereal, pasta, etc.) in a glass or heavy plastic storage containers.
  • Date packages not already dated, keep foods in moisture-proof containers (except for fresh produce)

Food Safety

The U.S. Department of Agriculture developed rules regarding the safety of meat and poultry:

  • Store all food properly; keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold until serving. Refrigerate leftovers immediately or discard.
  • Avoid cross-contamination by keeping raw meats and poultry separate from other foods. Wipe all working surfaces with an antibacterial wipe after touching any meat.
  • Cook thoroughly, All meat and poultry should be fully cooked. All meat should not be pink in the inside.

Hand washing

Always wash your hands thoroughly with warm soapy water before and after you prepare any meals. If you are interrupted during food preparations, always rewash your hands, before resuming your food duties.


Follow these shopping guidelines and tips to help your loved ones eat healthy, nutritious meals without going over their budget or having a lot of food waste. Buying smaller sizes and using up leftovers can save a lot of food that would otherwise be thrown out due to spoilage. Meal prepping for the week can save you some time if you work and care for an aging parent. Find recipes for the freezer and crockpot meals to save even more time than you can spend with your loved one.

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