Start shopping better today and leave the store with the most wholesome food possible.
When you think about grocery shopping, you often start with every intention of only buying ingredients to make nutritious meals and snacks for the entire week. But somehow, after that first step inside the grocery store, what ends up in your cart is a far cry from that original healthful vision.
Here are 10 tips to help you make healthy food choices while shopping:
Tip 1: Plan ahead and make a list
Before you head to the store, plan your meals for the week and create your shopping list from that menu. It will spare you time later because you won’t wander around each aisle browsing every package. It will also save you from having to make a quick trip to the store when you need an ingredient.
Bonus: By preparing ahead of time, you can use coupons and see what specials are in the weekly flyer. Incorporate those items into your weekly menu and be sure to write down a list of everything you need from that plan. The key is stick to the list. Don’t be drawn into marketing or sales pitches if the items are not on that list.
Tip 2: Shop the store’s perimeter
Fresh food items are located on the store’s perimeter. So, that’s where you want to be. The processed, unhealthy items are typically found on the shelves in the middle of the store. Best to avoid those aisles to avoid the temptation.
Tip 3: Buy foods that don’t have a nutrition facts label
This means whole foods that are what they are—like broccoli, eggs, apples. There is no list of ingredients because the item is the ingredient!
Tip 4: Choose organic or local whenever possible
Organic meat, dairy and produce are more nutritious and have less pesticides, antibiotics and other chemicals. Local farms are a great way to support local farmers and reduce the carbon footprint of shipping.
Tip 5: Buy lean cuts of meat
Generally speaking, the less fat on the cut of meat, the healthier for you. Animals store toxins in fat tissue, so best to avoid consuming animal fats and those toxins. If you are unsure which meat is leaner, look for the Heart Foundation tick of approval.
Tip 6: Beware of processed meats
Limit your consumption of deli meats, hot dogs, salami, spam, corned beef, bacon, smoked salmon and ham or chicken loaf. These items are usually loaded with sodium and other preservatives like nitrates. Either go to the deli and get real sliced meat or make your own at home as an alternative.
Tip 7: Buy lots of fresh and/or frozen vegetables
Eating healthy means the majority of your plate is made up of whole plant foods. Start adding more colorful vegetables to each meal. Purchasing frozen vegetables is another great option because they are just as healthy, don’t spoil fast and are usually cheaper than fresh.
Tip 8: Check the date
Avoid the risk of eating unsafe perishable foods, especially chilled or frozen items. A “use-by” date shows the date by which a product should be consumed. But, even before that date, if it looks or smells bad then do not buy it. You want to avoid bacteria and other foodborne illnesses at all costs.
Tip 9: Limit/avoid junk foods
For example: candy, cookies, protein shakes or energy bars, pre-made wraps and sandwiches
Most of these foods are high in sugar, fat or salt, and low in nutrition. Junk foods also leave you hungry again a few hours after you eat them. Things that come in flashy packaging, or are meant to be “fast” food, are probably not the most ideal options.
Tip 10: Stock the pantry
Bulk buy nutritious meal ingredients. Non-perishable, healthy foods with long shelf lives include: walnuts, almonds, dried vegetables, beans, legumes and rice. These items make great staples to have in your pantry at all times.
Catholic Health is here to help you on your health and wellness journey.