Purewow + Perdue Present

Supermarket

Survival Guide

Answering your trickiest questions, one aisle at a time

Nothing’s worse than buying avocados for tonight’s guacamole that won’t ripen for another nine days. Here’s a quick cheat-sheet for spotting freshness in the most deceiving fruits and veggies.

  • Tomatoes

    Ripe When: The skin slightly shifts to the touch but doesn’t mush.

  • Watermelon

    Ripe When: It sounds hollow. Also, pick the heaviest one you can find. Heavy = ahhhh.

  • Strawberries

    Ripe When: They smell like they should taste and are totally red (no white around the stem).

  • Cantaloupe

    Ripe When: It feels heavy and smells sweet.

  • Bananas

    Ripe When: The peel is lightly spotted. Only buy them green if you don’t plan on making a PB&B (peanut butter and banana) until the following week.

  • Bell Peppers

    Ripe When: They are full and firm to the touch. And remember, it goes: red > orange > yellow > green on the sweetness scale.

  • Pears

    Ripe When: Like bananas, look for a few spots. Walk away from anything bigger than a fist.

  • Avocados

    Ripe When: Hold an avocado in your hand. Look at the top. See that little brown stem? Pick it off. If the underlying area is bright green, it’s ripe. If that area is brown, it’s overripe. If it’s difficult to get the stem off, it’s not ripe at all.

  • Eggplant

    Ripe When: You gently squeeze it with your fingertips and the skin springs back when you release.

Supermarket Sweeps

5-Second Tip

When it comes to produce, pick from the back of the bunch. Most grocery stores will place older merchandise right in front to get rid of it. So if you’re looking for those strawberries to stay red and plump well into the weekend, you might want to pick a carton that’s not already on its way out.

Drumsticks. Cutlets. Boneless. Skinless. There are infinite ways to skin a bird, but when searching for the right cut you should remember these three tips.

1. Antibiotic-Free

Keep a bird’s eye out for chicken raised without antibiotics or animal by-products (don't get us started). A trusty option is Perdue Harvestland chicken breasts. These little chicks are fed an all-vegetarian diet and drink water with oregano (it has natural antioxidants to keep them healthy).

2. Cage-Free or Free-Range?

And what about Certified Organic? Cage-free means, well, cage free. Free-range chickens are able to spread their wings and go outside (although USDA regulations don’t specify details about the quality or duration of their outdoor ventures). Certified Organic chickens, on the other hand, must be allowed year-round access to the outdoors except under certain conditions (like bad weather). There aren’t many discrepancies between the three in terms of the quality of your egg.

3. Check for Non-GMO

For all those acronym novices, Non-GMO stands for non-genetically modified organisms. GMOs have genetic material that has been artificially manipulated in a lab. Reach for chicken with the Non-GMO label, like Perdue Harvestland Organic. Go big and buy a whole bird, and then try our 1-hour roasted chicken recipe to really impress those weekend dinner guests.

Supermarket Sweeps

5-Second Tip

Pay attention to color. This is the easiest way to tell if chicken has gone bad. The ideal color is light pink, with white fat. If the coloring is grayish and the fatty parts have yellow spots, then it’s a serious no-go.

Between varying sugar levels, vitamin D and protein content, finding a proper source of calcium makes us miss the days of the milkman (not that we’re that old…). Here’s what you need to know when pondering over those expiration dates.

I’m a Traditional Kind of Gal

Go, go grass-fed. If you’re looking for cow’s milk, it turns out that grass-fed animals may be better for you. Experts say that grass-fed dairy has a better ratio of good fats.*

I’m Flirting with Going Lactose-Free

Good for you. Now, beware of added sugars. Regular cow’s milk has natural sugar (it’s called lactose). But many of the alternatives are flavored and may have more added sugars than regular milk. While a couple of servings are harmless, try and choose the unsweetened versions of these milks if you’re a regular consumer.

I Have a Strict Dairy-Free Diet

Roger. You need to pay attention to protein. Between almond, coconut and soy milk, there are plenty of alternatives for the lactose-intolerant. However, dairy foods are often a prime source of protein in your diet and some of these dairy-free sources may be lacking your essential nutrients. Soy milk is your best bet when it comes to protein, but if it doesn’t sit well with your digestive system, then make sure to supplement your diet with enough hearty lentils, chickpeas, lean poultry and nuts.

Supermarket Sweeps

5-Second Tip

Say you’ve cut out the dairy, but still want that rich and creamy addition to your coffee? We recommend unsweetened coconut milk--the one that comes in the can. We think it provides the thick consistency you’ve probably been missing without any overpowering taste.

You never know when you’ll need to whip something up for the (Re-scheduled! Tonight! In 30 minutes!) book club meeting. Herewith, the golden list of items to always have on hand so you can feign having it all figured out.

  • Olive Oil

    Self-explanatory? Sure. But did you know you should use it in cake?

  • Pasta

    Again, we know, you know. But perhaps you haven’t heard that you should be cooking it in red wine?

  • Hot Sauce

    Whether you’re a Sriracha-lover or a fan of Frank’s Red Hot, a little hot sauce will add flavor to anything.

  • Canned Beans

    Because you can create breakfast in a bowl (and then eat it again for dinner.)

  • Peanut Butter

    Yeah, yeah, sandwiches. But, good heavens, dessert.

  • Canned Tomatoes

    For anything from a simple marinara sauce to a cup of soup to the world’s best vegetarian chili.

  • Rice

    Or quinoa. Or couscous. Versatility, people.

  • Spices

    The holy trinity of spices: freshly ground black pepper, oregano and chili pepper flakes. Keep all three on hand to season everything from ratatouille to pizza take-out.

  • Vinegar

    White, red or rice are all good options to add acidity to your dishes.

*Organic Production Enhances Milk Nutritional Quality by Shifting Fatty Acid Composition: A United States-Wide, 18-Month Study