Shopping is the most vital and most under-rated part of eating healthy. Unless you have a private chef you need to be able to go to the grocery store with a plan every week so that your fridge and pantry are stocked with all of the necessary food. Lets be honest, if don’t have healthy food ready to cook and eat, it won’t happen early in the morning or in the evening after a long day. The trick is to have a variety of healthy food available so you don’t stray to convenience foods.
- Take a look around your kitchen, think about what you need and write out a grocery list with all necessary including things like spices and sauces.
- Put the amount for each item that you will need to get through the next week. This is fairly simple; just think how much you eat per meal and how many meals of a particular food you plan on eating throughout the week.
- Set a day and time when you know you won’t have anything else going on to go to the grocery store every week. Don’t wait for Sunday night at 8pm, or it most likely won’t get done.
Warning: Do not go to the grocery store when you are hungry or you will end up with a cart full of donuts and pop-tarts.
Shopping – a step by step guide
First, we need to establish a few ground rules for shopping:
- Stay on the outer aisles of the grocery store – You should only enter middle aisles to pick up items such as canned beans, sauces, and rice. Most of the low quality, processed foods are in the center of the store.
- Purchase specialty items such as oats, quinoa, and bread (not full of chemicals and preservatives) at specialty stores such as Whole Foods. You can make this the second part of your grocery shopping trip or wait for another day.
- If it has a barcode it most likely isn’t healthy – 90% of your foods should be whole food products
- If it sounds too good to be true it is. If they need to make a health claim it’s probably not healthy.
Fruits and Vegetables
When you enter the grocery store you should head straight to where the fresh produce lies. Here are some guidelines:
- Buy what you know
- Try one new fruit or vegetable every time
- Buy frozen produce for items you eat less often
- Eat the rainbow – buy a variety of fruits and vegetables in different colors
Don’t see something that you like? Unsure if you’ll eat all of it? No problem. Most fruits and vegetables can be bought in the frozen food section. Frozen produce doesn’t go bad quickly and is just as healthy as the fresh version.
This is my favorite section of the store, but is one of the areas of greatest confusion for most people. Without diving too far into the rabbit hole of organic, grass fed, pasture raised, corn finished, etc. here are a few things to remember when looking at labels:
- You get what you pay for: cheap = low quality
- Grass-fed, pasture raised, and hormone and antibiotic free is best
- Organic or hormone free doesn’t necessarily equal free of all harmful chemicals.
Now that you know what to look at when it comes to labels here are some of my favorite cuts of meat:
- Eye of round steak
- Ground burger (elk, beef, buffalo)
- Chicken Legs (fattier, more flavorful than breasts)
- Various fish (tuna and wild caught salmon are my favorites)
Feel free to add your favorite cuts to this list. I tend to eat the same things throughout the day so I try to get variety in my dinners.
**If you can afford to buy meat in bulk I suggest finding a ranch or farm that sells quarter or half shares of a cow or buffalo. Animals from these sources are usually humanely raised, grass fed, free range, and not pumped full of hormones or antibiotics. Eggs from local farms can also be purchased at farmer markets and are much higher in quality than any eggs you will get from a grocery store.
Next week we’ll cover carbohydrates, fats, and extras.