8 Ways To Dominate Your Next Grocery Trip
Everyone tells us that eating better is about what foods you buy and prepare. But how do we know where to start? Especially if you have a job, maybe a family, or possibly even a hobby? Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about nearly all of us. There is not enough time in a week to grocery shop, cook healthy meals at home, and prep lunches for the work week, right? Well, not exactly. Decide on what’s more important to you, getting a burger from fill in the blank fast food place or an additional 2-3 hours a week making healthy and even delicious (imagine that!) meals at home. If you’ve chosen the latter, keep reading.
Effective grocery shopping starts long before you hit the store. For some busy people, scheduling a grocery store trip and putting it in your calendar is good idea (that way, you’re not rushing and grabbing the first thing you find). If you are disciplined enough, go ahead and make a rough menu for the week so you have an idea of what you need to get. Or you can always wing it. With time and practice, you’ll be able to guesstimate how much food you need for the week.
Now you find yourself in a grocery store. Rule of thumb is to stay at the perimeter of the store; that’s where you’ll find unprocessed or minimally processed products (fruits, veggies, dairy, meats). Think of building a house – without a good foundation, it’ s useless to put in a nice Jacuzzi bathtub. The same goes with nutrition – put down a good base and build on it as you go along.
I suggest filling your cart with veggies first to avoid regrettable decisions later. Look for the full color spectrum – orange/yellow, white, green, purple, and red. Try to hit at least one variety of each and even more green ones. Choices include (but are not limited to!):
Orange/yellow: Peppers, butternut squash, carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes.
White: Cauliflower, artichoke, mushrooms, onions, turnips.
Green: You can go all out in this category, but some excellent choices are broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green beans, peas, asparagus, spinach, kale, zucchini, bok choy.
Purple: Beets, eggplant, olives.
Red: Tomatoes, peppers, radishes.
This is a great start. Now add some fruit to your cart. Use the same color principle as mentioned above. Fruit is great for dessert because of the high water and fiber content, i.e. it fills you up quickly. However, getting 20 bananas and calling it a day is not what I’m talking about here. Citrus fruit and berries are fantastic. Moving on…
If you are a meat eater, go ahead and get your protein sources at this point. Look for leaner cuts of meat (chicken, turkey, beef and wild game will do). Variety is your friend here but keep bacon to a minimum (unless you’re chasing the gainz).
Dairy’s up next. Greek yogurt, cottage cheese and some good aged cheese are your friends, unless you’re lactose intolerant (in that case, try vegan cheeses and coconut yogurt).
Next let’s get some complex carbs to add to your plate after exercise: quinoa (fun fact-quinoa is a complete protein), wild rice, steel cut or traditional oats. You can always try millet, bulgur, amaranth or buckwheat if you’re feeling adventurous. If eating a plant-based diet, combine whole grains with beans to make it a complete protein. I cannot say enough good things about legumes!
Last but not least, good fats. The key here is getting a balance of saturated and unsaturated fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated). Look for olive oil/olives, avocados, walnuts, almonds, and fatty cold water fish (think salmon, mackerel, sardines).
One last note of advice on the paradox of choice. Don’t get bogged down by or obsess over the myriad of choices at the store. When faced with too many options, our natural tendency is to either go into default mode or give up completely. Compare two or three options at most and buy the best out of the three confidently. Now get out there and do some (healthy) shopping! 🙂