Healthy eating begins with what you bring into your home as options to use. It’s simple for someone to tell you to pick the right foods, but when you go into the grocery store, farmer’s market, co-op, etc, it’s important to go in with a plan. Below are some easy ways to make grocery shopping an easier, and perhaps an even more enjoyable task.
1. Make a plan. Making a grocery list, either written down or on your phone, holds you more accountable to purchase only the items needed.
2. Don’t go hungry. We all get those cravings in the store if we forgot to eat a balanced meal before hand. This could cause you to purchase convenient snacks or junk food, or the first thing we see in the checkout line. If you go with a full stomach, you’ll be less likely to stray from your list or purchase anything unintended.
3. Stay wide. You’ve heard the suggestion to shop the perimeter of the store, that’s because the whole food/healthier options are on the perimeter. Generally, the “fresh” items are located on the outskirts of the store, due to shelf life and rotating stock. Ideally, your grocery trip should include most of your time in produce section, choosing organic vegetables and fruits that you can eat both raw or cooked. Shopping the perimeter also puts your budget into quality foods that you know you will waste. Meats and seafood can be frozen to save them when sales occur.
4. Stay in season. Shop based on the current season and your food will taste better. In the winter months, hearty squash, potatoes, onions and dark leafy greens will taste the best. In the spring, items like asparagus, leeks, and berries reign supreme. In-season produce also tends to be the items that are most on sale, so it’s a no-brainer.
5. Buy in bulk. Buying the bulk bins, when available, is a cost-effective way to stock up on essentials, such as nuts, seeds, and spices. Not only are you reducing wasteful packaging, but you can control how much of everything you require. Often, the bulk bins are far cheaper than the same items on the shelves, and avoid any anti-caking agents or preservatives.
6. KISS and Read. Reading labels can be a daunting task but, it pays out in the long run. If you are going into the aisles for essentials such as broths, oils, or condiments, take the extra 30 seconds to turn the package over and read the ingredients in the product. You want to be able to pronounce every ingredient listed, avoid hidden sugar names (dextrose, sorbitol, fruit juice concentrate to name a few), and avoid long ingredient lists. Once you get in the groove, shopping the middle aisles turns into a “game” to try to find only the best items necessary for your diet.
Going grocery shopping can be quick and painless if you follow the suggestions above. We all want to get in and out so that we can continue doing things that bring us more joy. What was once a chore can now be an easy and enjoyable experience if you keep a healthy mindset. Happy shopping!