Tips for healthy grocery shopping

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Grocery shopping. Whether you love it or hate it, I bet this week you’ll be doing it. Here’s a few tips to make this week’s grocery shop a little healthier.

Make a list.
You’ve heard this tip before, no doubt because it makes a lot of sense. If you’re following a strict meal plan then I’d recommend a strict and specific shopping list. You’ll likely be doing a little research to determine the foods you’re allowed to eat and it’s a lot easier to do that from the comfort of your home than on your phone in the dairy aisle. Plus you won’t end up with accidental cheat foods because they seemed, “close enough to your meal plan.”

If you’re trying to eat healthier but aren’t on a specific meal plan I still recommend a shopping list, but it could be more fluid. When I go to the store I’ll sometimes list the meals I’m planning on making, but not the ingredients. I do this so I can take advantage of better-looking produce and potential deals. So if I’ve decided lunch this week is egg muffins I know I’ll need eggs, but what I add in is pretty flexible. If tomatoes look good I’ll buy those, but if there are bell peppers on sale then maybe I’d pick those instead.

Make whole foods your go-to.
Most people have go-tos in the grocery store, especially when it comes to snacks. A few years ago my go-to was hummus and pita bread. It’s not the worst snack, but I felt like I could do better. Also, full disclosure, I was buying—and eating—multiple hummus packages a week. I started focusing on making my go-tos whole foods. Instead of buying hummus, I’d buy three types of fruit for the week: apples, a berry and another fruit. Maybe one week I’d have apples, strawberries and pineapple and the next I’d have apples, blueberries and oranges. It took some time, but I started developing better snacking habits. My goal was to, “buy more whole foods,” instead of, “eat less hummus.” Framing it this way was hugely motivating for me, especially since my goal wasn’t to completely eliminate hummus. I still buy it occasionally, but I can safely say I’m no longer addicted to it.

Check the labels.
When you’re buying packaged food, don’t rely on the front of the box. Things like Blue Menu, Health Check, Organic and Low-Fat don’t automatically mean they’re healthy. Check the label. How many ingredients are there? Do you recognize all of them? Take a look at the total calories per serving and the sugar content too. There isn’t a right or wrong answer for the totals, but you should have an idea of the total you’re consuming per day. This is where something like MyFitnessPal, a dietary tracker, can be helpful.

Try new things.
I know I told you to make a list, but sometimes I think you should forget that list at home. You eat every day and the reality is that although home cooking is the healthier option, it’s not always the easier one. I love to cook, but I still get cooking fatigue and need to spark my creativity. Try recreating a favourite restaurant meal (bonus points if you make it healthier!), buy a vegetable you’ve never eaten or use a spice blend from a country on your travel bucket list. You may never love being in the kitchen, but you can figure out how it can be more enjoyable. No one said it better than Mary Poppins (who I’m betting is a fantastic cook): “Find the fun, and—SNAP—the job’s a game!”

Thanks for reading,
Olivia

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