Coming up with a healthy grocery shopping list is a challenge for many people. It’s best to stick to the list, otherwise, you end up buying items that you probably don’t want to be eating.
Is grocery shopping something you look forward to, or is it a chore that you dread? Do you go to the grocery store prepared with a healthy grocery shopping list? Or, do you leave the store with a random assortment of ingredients that you don’t know what to do with and a bunch of unhealthy snacks?
If your compost bin is overflowing with food that went bad before you got a chance to eat it, and you feel like you’re a disorganized grocery shopper, we’re here to help.
It’s common knowledge how helpful it is to meal prep if you’re trying to watch your weight. However, the meal prep project always starts with a healthy grocery shopping list.
Millennials have very little confidence in the kitchen in comparison to older generations. According to a report done by the US Department of Agriculture, we eat out more often, devote less time to meal prep, and a survey conducted by Porch, a website dedicated to home improvement, showed that we eat more frozen or pre-packaged food than Gen X or Baby Boomers do.
That’s no surprise, considering how easy it is to get meals delivered. Unfortunately, meals from restaurants tend to be overly processed and made with high ratios of salt, sugar and butter or other unhealthy fats. The same goes for eating out at restaurants.
Grocery shopping armed with a healthy grocery shopping list and cooking your own meals makes a world of difference when it comes to achieving and maintaining an optimal weight and optimal health.
A movement towards a healthier lifestyle is taking hold, and Millennials and Gen Z alike are grocery shopping more frequently. But what do we do with the ingredients we buy at the grocery store, and what should we buy? Read on for some suggestions for what to buy from the grocery store.
Start with a Clean Slate
Start by first taking stock of what you already have at home. If your staple diet has mostly consisted of take-out food or pre-packaged meals, it’s likely that there’s plenty in there you might have forgotten about. Check expiration dates and get rid of anything that’s passed its prime. On the other hand, foods like pasta, canned beans or rice can last a very long time if stored properly.
Next, consider clearing junk food out of your house. Things like chips, chocolate bars or candy are obviously not good for you, but many packaged foods contain astonishingly high amounts of sugar and salt, even things that are labelled as low-fat or low-calorie. You can check the FDA’s guide on how to read and understand food labels here.
Finally, it’s time to make some space for your healthy grocery haul. Make sure that the things you bring home are visible and easily accessible; that will make you more likely to use them. Creating some kind of organizational system for your fridge, pantry and cupboards will go a long way here.
What to Include on Your Healthy Grocery Shopping List
Fitness and nutrition expert Sheree Burton weighs in with some staples she likes to keep in her kitchen:
“Some of the staples I have in my fridge or pantry at all times are lean proteins such as chicken breast, tuna, grass-fed beef, and some kind of protein powder. Protein is essential for building and maintaining muscle, keeping you satiated and also strengthening bones. Fibre [from ] rich green veggies [like] broccoli, asparagus and leafy greens like spinach. These are also filling and provide our body with much-needed micronutrients. Slow-release carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes, oats and naturally gluten-free whole grains such as brown or basmati rice, [since] we need carbohydrates for energy during the day. [And} don’t forget the healthy fats! Healthy fats are good. [Get them from] avocado or extra virgin olive oil [and nuts].”
Additionally, fibre keeps your digestive system healthy and takes up lots of space in your stomach, without adding calories, which keeps you feeling fuller for longer.
Soluble fibre dissolves in water and creates a gel-like substance in your gut. It also slows digestion down, which is what keeps you feeling satiated. On the contrary, insoluble fibre doesn’t dissolve in water. Instead, it speeds up your digestive process, promoting regularity. Both of these are essential for healthy gut activity. Many fruits and vegetables contain high amounts of fibre, as does oatmeal and other grains like barley.
Beans and legumes (like peas and lentils) are high in both protein and fibre, so be sure to add them to your list.
Hack Your Grocery Trip
Despite your best intentions, it’s hard to overcome temptation. Grocery stores want to sell as much as they can, and that means that everything is going to be displayed in a way to looks appetizing and appealing, even food you’re now trying to stay away from.
Plan ahead and hack yourself. Make your list and don’t deviate from it. Go shopping with a friend for moral support if you need it, or order your groceries online. You can either pick them up or have them delivered to you, so you won’t even have to enter the store.
If you do want to shop, avoid the aisles. Produce, meat, bread and dairy products tend to be organized in a way that borders the rest of the store, so focus on those areas. If you do need to go down an aisle for things like canned tomatoes, coffee or oatmeal (a great source of soluble fibre, by the way) ask an employee to show you where it is. They will lead you directly to the shelf it’s stored on, helping you resist the temptation to browse whatever else might be stored in the aisle.
Again, it’s best to avoid packaged food, but if you do choose to buy some things to snack on (like crackers) always check the nutritional information.
No kitchen is complete without a well-stocked pantry.
Think of pantry staples as the foundation of a good meal, and fresh produce, herbs and proteins as the trim. A few things you can keep on hand at all times are tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, whole-wheat noodles, brown or wild rice, lentils, various kinds of beans, quinoa, olive oil, flour and chicken or vegetable stock.
When choosing canned food, look for labels that say either ‘low-sodium or ‘no salt added. Alternatively, beans can be bought dry and then boiled at home; generally, dry beans are less expensive than the canned option and are guaranteed to be sodium-free. The same goes for lentils.
Most pantry staples are priced by the unit, and when you buy in bulk the price per unit decreases. So, the first few trips to the store might be more costly, but as you build up your kitchen you will see the total cost of your grocery bill getting smaller and smaller. If your pantry is well stocked, all you need to replace is produce and meat.
Make Your Groceries Last
Finally, let’s talk about what to do once you get home. If you’re someone who ends up throwing away much of what you bring home, perhaps you’re not storing your food correctly.
There are certain food combinations that should not be stored together because the chemicals they emit as they ripen interact with each other and might speed up the spoiling process. Bananas, for instance, accelerate the ripening process of whatever is stored around them, so they should be kept on a banana hook away from your apples and oranges.
You can use this chart for an easy-to-read breakdown of how to store produce properly.
Another reason food spoils is simply that you forget it’s there. No one wants to look at a cluttered, unorganized fridge, so if your habit is to just throw things in there and let them get lost behind containers of milk and condiments, consider investing some time in creating an organizational system.
And lastly, washing and chopping your produce before you store it will make you more likely to use it since that first step is the most time-consuming part of cooking. If it’s already done, then making the meal becomes a lot easier.
To get started, here are a few meal ideas along with detailed instructions.
Find Out the Optimal Diet Type For You Based on Your DNA
A DNA test from CircleDNA can answer a lot of questions you might have about your relationship with food and weight loss, among other things such as possible genetic food intolerances. Your CircleDNA report comes with diet and nutrition reports that help you figure out what foods you should and should not be eating. This will help you fine-tune that healthy grocery shopping list for the utmost success in achieving optimal health.