Let’s talk about the ever daunting task of grocery shopping. For most people this is one of those tasks that is both time consuming and overwhelming. That is especially true if someone is new to the idea of “healthy eating” simply because there are so many mixed messages about what healthy eating actually is. Food labels? Organic vs. conventional? Ingredients? In my opinion it really shouldn’t be that difficult. It can even by enjoyable. Once you have a plan and purpose in mind, you will find that grocery shopping might become one of those tasks that begins to mean something to you. Today I want to walk you through the basics of planning out your trip to the grocery store and then how to navigate the stores once you are there. Remember that it is always best to begin with the end in mind. That means knowing your specific budget (if you do not budget we highly recommend it) and planning your list before you go so you come home with exactly what you need without spending more money than you have.
The Grocery List
As mentioned above, planning your grocery list ahead of time will save you time. You will be able to walk in the store with your purpose in mind. If the goal is healthy eating, then you want to plan to purchase the foods that are going to bring healing to your body. Stick to your plan and you have the first part of healthy eating down (buying it)! There are many great grocery list tools that you can find if you do a simple google search, but I wanted to share how I do it. I just use my phone. I have an iPhone and I personally use the app called “Clear.” It is a simple, clean, list making machine. It allows you to make as many lists as you want. Currently I have a to-do list for today, blog ideas, weekend to do list, and a grocery list. It has really helped me to simplify all my tasks in one place. Regardless of your preferred way of planning out your list, just make sure it’s something that works best for you. Now, when it comes to actually planning you always want to start with the basics, or staples. For us those would include:
- Sweet Potatoes
- Coconut Oil
- Almond Flour
It would be up to you to know what you and your family eats weekly, even daily, and to be sure you keep those items stocked. Anytime throughout the week that we run out of something or start to get low I add that item to my “Clear” list. From there you want to have meals in mind for the week and buy the extra ingredients you need. Remember, your meals do not have to be overly time consuming to be healthy. In reality, most healthy meals have few ingredients with limited steps. Find recipes you love and make your life easier and incorporate those into your lifestyle. This does not have to be hard. It’s important to keep in mind that you will ultimately save money by cooking your meals at home.
Navigating the Store Like a Pro
You have probably heard this advice before, but avoid the center aisles. You really do want to shop the perimeters. This is where the fresh and whole food will be waiting. When it comes to choosing the best quality and sticking to your budget you want to get the most bang for your buck. That means if you can only buy the very best of something, go for purchasing grass-fed (if available) and definitely organic meat, dairy, and poultry. Conventional meat, dairy, and poultry comes loaded with hormones, antibiotics, toxins, and high omega 6 fats. These you want to avoid. However, if you simply cannot afford the “best” buy lean cuts and trim visible fat before eating to help remove the harmful components. From there head on over to the produce section and aim for filling your basket with different colors. Buy organic when it makes sense and avoid what is not is season. This will save you money. I like to recommend prioritizing your organic produce from The Dirty Dozen List since these have the highest amounts of pesticide residues. If you do need to venture in to the center aisles where the “processed and convenience” foods are located here is how to come out a winner. You will need to look at the nutrition label and read the ingredients list. The best rule of thumb is to choose items that have less than five ingredients that you can actually pronounce. Do your absolute best to avoid foods with hydrogenated oils, artificial flavors and colors, stabilizers, preservatives, refined sugar or corn syrup, and excessive amounts of sodium. The great news is that the choice is up to you. If the item has these harmful ingredients you do not have to purchase it.
- Stick to your list. If you begin purchasing everything that has eye appeal, well you will probably blow your planned budget.
- Keep your eyes open for sales and specials. Most grocers have these, even health food stores, so just be smart and watch for them.
- Focus on cheap nutrient dense foods. These are whole foods that come packed with all things good from nature.
- Buy in bulk from online or warehouse stores.
- Buy your whole foods as fresh as possible. The fresher the more nutrient dense.
- Farmers markets are excellent for produce when in season.
- Eat real food. Make sure that your cart is full of more foods without labels than anything.
Hopefully now you are getting excited to go grocery shopping! When you purchase and eat whole foods, it simply is not complicated. The foods are simple, nutrient dense, and exactly what your body was made to eat. Do not let the flashy boxed, frozen, bagged, or canned “foods” fool you. That’s not real food. As we see it, it is worth the time and money to purchase whole foods because they are the best “health insurance” you have.
We would love to hear how you all tackle this task of grocery shopping. Do you have any more tips to share?