It can be hard to make healthy choices at the grocery store. Check out these simple tips to help you make healthy and smart choices for you and your family.
One of the most important things you can do to save money and make healthy food choices is plan ahead! Make a list of all the foods you need so you don’t get to the grocery store and buy things you already have at home but have forgotten about. If you’re very organized, you might even try to plan your meals out for the week. This not only saves you time in the long run but it’s a good way to stick to a budget and make healthy meals.
Now that you’ve organized your shopping list and planned your meals, head to the grocery store. To get the most nutrition out of your meals I like to stick to one simple, easy to follow rule… Shop the perimeter of the store. What does this mean? Buy the majority of your food for the week in the produce section. Fresh vegetables and fruits are an essential component of healthy meals. I like to buy tons of veggies and fruits, including kale, spinach, broccoli, apples, avocados, and celery, just to name a few.
Where to next? After produce, go to the fresh fish section. Salmon and cold water fish contain healthy amounts of dietary essential fatty acids that are good for everything from skin to heart health to mood and brain functioning. Try to make it a personal goal to eat fish at least once a week if you aren’t already.
What should avoid around the perimeter? The bakery! I tend to avoid this section completely because of the gluten and high amount of refined sugar in bread and baked goods. If you can’t avoid this section, try to cut down. Instead of sandwiches for lunch, I pack last night’s dinner leftovers which are usually veggies, a protein, and a complex carb such as brown rice or quinoa for me.
Next, head to the meat counter. Pick up some protein in the form of chicken, turkey, or lamb. Focus on white meats and try to limit red meat consumption. Red meat increases risk of cardiovascular problems amongst other health concerns.
Check out the natural foods section. I like to pick up raw nuts and seeds, organic oils (coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil), and almond milk here. Stock up if there are sales on things you like, for me that’s thing like nut butters and rice crackers. Be careful to read labels, yes, even in this section of the grocery store, a lot of ‘gluten free’ or ‘all natural’ food products can be filled with tons of fillers and sugars so be on the look out for things like this. You can also get organic, non-GMO brown rice, rice/veggie/lentil/quinoa pasta, and numerous wheat free flours and cereals in this section.
Head down to the frozen section, where you can find frozen berries and some frozen veggies. I tend to buy frozen mixed berries for smoothies and frozen veggies when the fresh veggies are out of season here.
Even though dairy is just around the corner, I tend to avoid this section all together. If you are a big dairy fan try buy organic/hormone free options or seek out dairy alternatives such as rice, almond, coconut milks.
By shopping the perimeter of the store you avoid unhealthy processed foods which tend to be down the middle aisles.
This wraps up your grocery store healthy shopping tour! Remember to buy local/seasonal and organic when possible. Buying local supports your community and eating organic lowers your exposure to harmful and potentially cancerous pesticides that are sprayed on foods. If you can’t afford to buy every organic, check out this list of the “dirty dozen” and “clean fifteen” for foods that you should be buying organic and others that are okay to buy in the non-organic section.
Hope this helps you make healthy and smart choices for meals for you and your family! If you have any comments or questions please feel free to share below!