Another year is coming to a close. Can you believe it’s almost 2016?! Time is absolutely flying by. As the new year approaches you may be starting to think of some resolutions for your 2016. I’ve got one for you! How about healthier grocery shopping. Shopping healthier at the store leads to healthier meals at home, which leads to a healthier you!
If you’re not quite sure where to start when it comes to making grocery shopping a healthier endeavor try these five quick tips to get you in a green state of mind.
1. Make a Plan
There have been many a grocery store adventure where I turn to my boyfriend and ask if he knows what is in the pantry, to which he never has a response. Then when we get home the question turns into, why do I suddenly have 20 lbs of white rice? Finally it morphs into, why didn’t I just make a list? Been there. Done that. Grocery lists and meal plans are your friend. They can help keep you on track so you don’t have a surplus in the pantry but they can also stop you from scooping up those 2 packages of cookies that catch your eye.
If you plan out your meals for the week, including snacks, you can set yourself up for healthy success. Since you already know you’re going to have almonds and carrot sticks for snacks at work this week, there really is no reason for those chocolate chip cookies. Put them down and back away slowly. Once you get the hang of meal planning you’ll be able to create real food options for every meal and skip processed food all together.
Want to get started meal planning? Check out my in depth post about it here! (Also subscribe (below, or to the left) to get my meal planning template!)
2. Shop the Perimeter First
If you take a second to think about the perimeter of your grocery store you’ll notice something. It has all the fresh items! The grocery store perimeter houses produce, meat, and dairy. Why do you think in Guys Grocery Games chefs are in a tizzy when they can’t go there? Can you tell I watch too much Food Network? That’s because it’s where all the good/tasty/healthy/amazing for you food is stocked.
By taking a stroll through the perimeter of your store first you’re more likely to fill your cart up with meats and veggies and less likely to fill it up with packaged food from the aisles.
Shopping perimeter first can also be a good test of your culinary pallet. If you go through the perimeter of the store week after week and pick out the same things (unless you’re on an elimination diet) maybe its a hint to get more adventurous with your food choices. Go ahead, try that strange thing called a honey mango, or pick up some parsnips (and make my soup). After-all 2016 you is way cooler than 2015 you and you can show it with your grocery choices.
3. Shop Smart in the Aisles
Now, perimeter of the store aside, that’s not saying that there aren’t hidden gems in the aisles as well. You just have to take some time to find them. I’ll give you the honest run down of what I buy in the (non-frozen) aisles of my grocery store.
- (Real) Maple Syrup
- Organic Fresh Pressed Juice (In the glass bottles and only on occasion)
- Gluten Free Rice Crackers
- Cane Sugar/Cooking Oils/Spices
- Dried Fruits/Nuts
- Canned Fish
- Rice/Rice Noodles
That’s seriously it. I fly through the aisles now a days. While I don’t expect anyone to eat like I eat, or live how I live, and while I do miss boxed mac and cheese by not picking up so much processed food, I’ve felt better than I ever have. I’ve learned to like new vegetables, become comfortable building flavors in my food, and learned to be confident in cooking meats.
Take a good look in your grocery cart if you see boxes and packages outnumber your vegetables, it may be time to evaluate. Try to see what you are purchasing and why. If it’s for convenience, try making your own frozen meals that you can reheat in a pinch. If it’s for taste, see it as an opportunity get crazy in the spice isle to get more flavor variety in your own recipes.
4. Take Advantage of (Some) Frozen Foods
By now we only have one area of the store left. Frozen Foods. What a tempting magical place with ice cream and pizza. If we’re talking about healthy shopping though, there is a great way to utilize frozen foods. I’m talking about frozen veggies and fruits. Vegetables and fruits are frozen at their peek and actually can taste more fresh than the ones in the produce aisle when the item in question isn’t in season. Take advantage of those frozen lovelies. It can keep your freezer fresh and healthy all year round.
5. Read Your Labels (Especially if you think you know what’s in it)
I really can’t stress this one enough. Before I started on my elimination diet I would only read labels every now and again if I was bored. Now, everything that has a label on it, I read it, especially if I think I know what’s in it. I’ll give you a perfect example. I bought some frozen peaches the other day. I got home flipped the package over and what did I see? An ingredients list full of preservatives for color and flavor. It’s a peach for goodness sake! I thought for sure the only ingredient would have been peaches. That’ll teach me to take my own advice.
Start to care about what is going in your body. Learn to read the labels. We as a population have become ignorant of what is in our food. 2016 could be the year to change that for yourself. You may be shocked to find out what’s in the food you eat.
Alright, I’ll step off my soap box now. I hope these tips give you some ideas for how to bring in the new year on a healthy note! Eating right all starts with the ingredients in your grocery cart. By planning your weeks, keeping to the perimeter, shopping smart, and reading labels, you are well on your way to a healthier you in 2016.
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