When sticking to a healthy diet, a simple trip to the grocery store can feel like an arduous task, trying to make healthy purchases among the abundance of tempting selections. If you are prepared, however, each trip will become easier and more enjoyable. Prepare yourself with these simple tips along with a thorough list, and you will have a cart full of healthy foods in a short amount of time.

Never shop hungry. Hunger makes you more susceptible to impulse buying and buying foods you do not need. Always have a healthy, satisfying meal or snack before heading to the grocery store.

Plan ahead. Make a list and stick to it; buy what you need and use what you have. Check store ads in your mail or online to find the best deals on healthy foods.

Shop from the outside in. Grocery stores usually place the healthiest foods, such as fresh produce, dairy and fresh meats and seafood, on the outside perimeter of the store. Shop the outside areas and back of the store before heading to the middle aisles, where most of the processed foods are found.

Fresh is best. Whether you are choosing meat, seafood, dairy or produce, look for the freshest items. For packaged foods, check expiration dates. To make your produce last longer, choose more than those ready to eat; for example, mix in some under ripe fruits and vegetables, and let them ripen at home.

If you need to store produce longer, or what you want is not available fresh, choose frozen fruits and vegetables instead of canned. Frozen produce is fresher, so it contains more nutrients and is less likely to contain sugar, salt or other additives. If you are buying canned foods (such as tomatoes), choose natural foods with no salt or sugar added.

Choose whole grains. Always buy whole grain pastas, breads and cereals — they are higher in fiber (at least four grams per serving). Avoid white rice, white bread, white pasta and anything else made with refined flour versus whole grain flour.

Read nutritional labels carefully. A food package may advertise that it is 100 calories per serving, but the serving size may be smaller than you think. Low-fat foods sometimes contain large amounts of sugar, salt or calories, making them just as unhealthy as higher-fat versions. Always compare the nutritional information of the light version with the regular version. Look for foods with few ingredients and little to no artificial ingredients or preservatives.