You probably already have a few tricks for navigating the grocery store … and getting out without a cartful of unhealthy impulse purchases. This is smart, because grocery shopping dictates what you’ll eat for the next week (or two), and it’s important to go in with a plan.
Planning your meals is rule number one for healthy eating, which is why your trip to the grocery store should involve a list of ingredients needed to prepare wholesome meals at home. Beyond this, Hella Wella has compiled a quick go-to guide of the “dos and don’ts” of healthy grocery shopping. If you’re trying to eat better, these simple tips will help:
- Avoid the middle of the store: This is where most of the processed and packaged foods reside. There are a few healthy exceptions, like dried beans and whole grains, to be found in the interior, but most of the healthy food – produce, meat, dairy, etc. – is on the perimeter.
- Bring a calculator: You may need to do a little math to figure out which food contains less sugar per serving, or which is a better deal per ounce. A calculator comes in handy for this (or use the one on your smartphone).
- Shop after you exercise: You’ll still be on your exercise ‘high’ and you’ll be feeling good about your health goals, which is a recipe for healthier food choices.
- Look for short ingredient lists: The fewer ingredients, the closer to its natural state. Food activist and author Michael Pollan recommends avoiding packaged foods with more than five ingredients.
- Make healthy food swaps: Try:
- Low-sodium, organic and nitrate-free deli meats and cheeses instead of regular
- Whole-wheat and whole-grain pasta and bread instead of white refined versions
- Grass-fed beef instead of grain-fed beef
- Organic, free-range chicken instead of conventionally raised chicken
- Shop hungry: You’re much more likely to make impulse purchases and buy junk foods if you’re hungry while you grocery shop.
- Buy something just because it’s on sale: Even if you can get your favorite snack food for a steal, remember that it’s not a ‘bargain’ for your health.
- Assume fat-free and low-fat mean ‘healthy’: Reduced fat foods often have added sugar and salt as replacements.
- Buy canned vegetables: Canned veggies have added sodium and the cans may be lined with the toxic chemical bisphenol-A (BPA). Frozen vegetables are a healthier choice.
- Buy foods with trans fats: This synthetic fat is linked to heart disease, diabetes and other chronic disease. If a food lists “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” on the label, it contains trans fats.
- Forget your list: Remember, creating a list is rule number one. Be sure to bring it with you … and stick to it.