Healthy eating begins with buying healthy food but, sometimes choosing the right foods in a grocery store can feel overwhelming. Here's some tips to help you start out on the right foot!
Make a Grocery List and Meal Plan
Once a week, I sit down and plan breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks for the week ahead. I then go through my fridge, pantry, and freezer and add what I need to buy to a grocery list in my phone’s notes app. Staying on track with your goals doesn't mean you have to store meal prepped containers of chicken and broccoli in your fridge. You can just jot down what you're going to eat each week. Having a plan and sticking to it is what's really important here. Seriously, plan your meals and write a grocery list! A goal without a plan is just a wish.
Going into a grocery store knowing exactly what you need to buy will allow you to get all of your shopping done at one time in one place and limits your time browsing the aisles which is what often leads to impulse buys.
Here’s what my typical meal plan and grocery list looks like.
Shop Along the Perimeter of the Store
One step in grocery shopping the right way is purchasing majority of your foods in the outside lanes of the grocery store. This is where you'll find the freshest foods like vegetables, fruits, and lean meats. Keeping the center aisles for whole grains, beans, and frozen fruit/veggies will cut tons of added sodium, fat, sugars, and preservatives out of your daily diet. This will also help control impulse buys and save you money!
Read Ingredient Labels and Nutritional Facts
Something I would love to create a post on soon is how misleading food packaging can be. Companies slap the words natural, healthy, non-GMO, gluten-free, organic, low fat, whole grain, etc. onto tons of unhealthy overly-processed foods. Organic Oreos are no better for you. Most non-fat products replace their fat content with sugar and hydrogenated oils to improve their taste. Pre-packaged "healthy" smoothies have more sugar than a can of soda and are made from cheap, nutrient void fruit juices. You cannot trust product packaging… at all. I’ve found that the healthier a food is made to sound via marketing, the unhealthier it usually is. The only way to be sure you’re choosing the right foods is to read the Nutritional Label on EVERYTHING you buy (or only buy whole foods that require no label.)
The first thing I always do is read the ingredients list. Any packaged foods you buy should be as minimally processed as possible which is why products with over 5-6 ingredients are usually an immediate no from me and get put back. Ingredient lists are recorded according to quantity (going from highest to lowest) so aim to choose products that have whole foods as their first ingredient(s). If an item contains any type of refined grains, sugar, or hydrogenated oils as one of its first ingredients, you can be sure it's unhealthy. Once a product passes the ingredients check, I then scan the Nutritional Label for added sugars, unhealthy fats, or a high sodium content. Lastly, I check the serving size. Why? Because they can also be misleading and highly unrealistic. Who has ever only eaten ½ cup of cereal? Not me.
Order Your Groceries Online!
Especially given our current circumstances due to COVID, many of you may want to limit, or even cut out, time spent in grocery stores around other people. Luckily, there are so many options now to order your groceries online and have them delivered right to your door! Ordering online saves a ton of time and allows you to carefully check the nutrition content of your food before buying. You may also find that choosing the right foods is easier this way since you don’t have to physically pass those aisles of chips or ice cream anymore.
Thrive Market sells some of the highest quality foods at lower prices than most grocery stores. A monthly membership is only $5 and gets you free shipping on all orders, special discounts, plus a free gift at sign up. There’s no contract so you can cancel at any time – click here to try it risk-free for 30 days. They have an amazing selection of foods for any budget and lifestyle as well as supplements, beauty products, and non-toxic cleaners. I do my weekly grocery shopping at my local ALDI and use my Thrive Market membership to order pantry products every few weeks. This is where I get my on-the-go snacks like these green pea crisps, primal kitchen dressings, and baking alternatives like almond flour (which is on sale right now by the way!)
If you live near a Whole Foods Market, free 1 or 2-hour grocery delivery is included with a monthly Amazon Prime membership. Click here for a free 30-day trial! Everything from frozen foods to household products are included in this. Whole Foods takes a lot of the guesswork out of healthy grocery shopping as they limit the products sold in their stores based on ingredients and provide education on nutrition and healthy eating. As a prime member, you can schedule your grocery delivery, receive an extra 10% off sale items, and get exclusive deals each week (up to 50% off!)