In order to eat nutritious food, you must SHOP & BUY that nutritious food. Healthy grocery shopping is essential for healthy meal planning, making delicious meals, and prepping nutritious snacks. I LOVE to grocery shop, but I may be in the minority… ha! Most of the time, especially if you are trying to be health conscious, the grocery aisles can be overwhelming to tackle. In order to make your next grocery shopping trip a success (& enjoyable), follow these steps.
BEFORE THE GROCERY STORE
- Plan your meals– look at the week ahead, check your schedule, and be realistic! Choose a couple go-to favorites that you and the family love, plan for a couple “under 20-minute meals”, and look at the sales papers & seasonal produce to inspire your meals as well! Check what you already have on hand – this will save you money, time and extra pounds… and helps prevent those spontaneous purchases.
- Make a list & check it twice– after figuring out what you already have, write down what you need. Good tip… organize your list by the food department so you can become an efficient shopper. For example, start with produce, then meat, then dairy, then frozen, then canned, etc.
- PCF2– focus on Protein, quality Carbohydrates, healthy Fats and Fiber when creating your list. Always remember PCF2 to ensure your diet is balanced.
- Eat a snack– don’t let your eyes rule the decisions! Shopping on an empty stomach usually leads to more unhealthy impulse purchases.
AT THE GROCERY STORE
- Shop the perimeter– great rule of thumb to follow as your healthy produce, deli, meat or seafood, dairy or eggs, frozen fruit and veggies, & fresh breads all tend to reside on the outskirts of the store! Now, the center aisles DO have good things for you including high fiber cereal, oats, nuts, nut butters, canned beans, canned produce, and lean protein like tuna packs… however, most of your cart should be filled with those perimeter goods!
- Read the ingredients label– the first ingredient makes up the most quantity of the products, and it goes down in descending order by weight. Ingredients determine food quality, and food quality is MOST important to consider when choosing your food.
- Stock your pantry– fill your cart with these essentials if you don’t already have on hand: canned beans and lentils, no salt added canned veggies, canned or packaged tuna, microwaveable whole grains, oatmeal, raw nuts and nut butters, potatoes & sweet potatoes, extra virgin olive oil, spices/herbs, tea, salsa, tomato sauce, & vinegar.
- Load up your freezer – good frozen foods to keep on hand include: vegetable “steamers” bags, frozen fruit, veggie burgers & turkey burgers, chicken, salmon, sprouted grain bread, whole grain bread, shelled edamame, & frozen grain packs.
- Vary your produce– eat the rainbow & choose seasonally to ensure you are getting all the vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fiber your body needs.
- Aim for lean protein– remember, less legs on the animal = less fat (ex: fish with “0” legs have less fat than chicken with “2” legs). Look for “choice” or “select” instead of prime on the package, choose the lowest percentage of fat for ground meats, and aim to include fish at least twice a week.
- Include low-fat or fat-free dairy – skim milk is your best bet, and it is a great protein source. Low-fat or fat-free Greek yogurt, yogurt, cheese, and other dairy products are healthy choices to add to the cart.
- Eat your whole grains– search for 100% whole grain products and minimize processed white grains. Look for “whole” as the first ingredient on the ingredients list.
TAKE HOME MESSAGE
Remember – choose more whole foods in the perimeters of the store versus the more processed stuff in the aisles. Plan ahead before getting to the store, and you’ll have a much more enjoyable experience & WILL PURCHASE THE HEALTHY FOODS YOU NEED!
Interested in taking your grocery shopping experience to the next level? Want to learn how to decipher the nutrition facts label & make healthier choices in the grocery store from a registered dietitian nutritionist? Stay tuned for a future community event where you will tour a local grocery store with me! Details and dates to follow 🙂
Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions!