How to: Shop the dairy department

The dairy department is home to some of the grocery store’s main sources of protein and calcium. Stocked with milk, cheese and yogurt, the dairy section is an essential stop on nearly every shopper’s list.

With so many category choices to choose from, shopping the dairy department can seem complex and confusing. Here are some tips and tricks guaranteed to help even the most seasoned grocery shopper navigate the dairy section.

The do's and don’ts

While grocery shopping, it’s important to keep items from the dairy department bunched together in your cart. Since these items are refrigerated, they must remain cold. This is why you should shop the dairy section near the end of your trip. Make sure to also keep items from this area bagged together. When loading your car with groceries during warmer months, keep a cooler or some chill packs in your trunk. Not many car trunks are air conditioned!                         

The yogurt

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Yogurt is filled with probiotics that aid our digestive tract and overall health and work to stimulate growth of the beneficial bacteria in your gut. From stirred to Greek, the dairy department provides shoppers with a variety of yogurts to choose from. Did you know that you can even get your yogurt fix outside of the dairy section?

In the frozen meals or novelties section of your grocery store, Healthy Choice® offers delicious, creamy Greek Frozen Yogurt options. High in calcium, frozen yogurt flavors like raspberry, strawberry, and blueberry are made with delicious real ingredients and offer a new twist on a dairy department staple. 

The cheese

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From adelost to zamorano, the dairy department contains more cheese than you can count or pronounce! As arguably one of the most confusing foods to navigate, it’s important that you choose your cheeses wisely. Start by reading labels.

A natural cheese label ends with the cheese variety like cheddar or swiss. These cheeses are best consumed with fruit, crackers, and wine. A blend of fresh and aged natural cheeses, a pasteurized process cheese label ends with the word “cheese." These cheeses have a long shelf life, melt evenly and are perfect atop a grilled burger. Cheese spreads are composed differently and labeled as pasteurized process cheese spread.

The milk

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There are a lot of milk options out there. That’s why it’s important that shoppers understand what they’re buying. In the dairy department white cow milk is labeled as either whole, 2%, 1%, or skim. But what do these labels actually mean?

All of these milk labels refer to the percentage of milk that, based on weight, is made up of butterfat. Whole milk has the most milkfat—3.5%. All of the remaining milk options have less. Milk labeled as 2% contains — you guessed it, 2% milkfat. While 1% contains 1% milkfat and skim contains less than 0.2%. Each milk type provides important nutrients but, according to the USDA, lower-fat milks like 1% and skim have fewer calories and the same amount of calcium as 2% and whole milk. Shelved near the milk is where you’ll also find products like coffee creamer and Reddi-wip®.