As a dietitian, I am well aware that for many people, grocery shopping may be scary and overwhelming. For instance, many of my patients struggle to decide which foods to add to their shopping carts at the grocery store and don’t know where to start.
Additionally, it can be challenging to distinguish between meals that are actually nutritious and those that are best left on the shelves due to the abundance of food options, many of which come in misleading packaging.
I go through the fundamentals of healthy grocery shopping in this post, including how to select nutrient-dense foods, make a shrewd shopping list, and stock up so you can go grocery shopping less frequently.
Before you go
While some people can shop for groceries without a list or a concept of the meals they’ll prepare over the course of the next week, the majority of people require some form of plan.
If you quickly become distracted in the shop or are unsure of where to start, it is a good idea to bring along a grocery list or a weekly menu.
Creating a healthy shopping list
Creating a healthy shopping list is a great way to ensure that you have nutritious food options readily available at home. Here are some tips for creating a healthy shopping list:
- Plan Your Meals: Before making your shopping list, plan your meals for the week. Consider including a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats in your meal plan.
- Include Fresh Produce: Add a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables to your shopping list. Aim for different colors to get a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Choose seasonal produce when possible for freshness and better prices.
- Choose Whole Grains: Opt for whole grain options like whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, oats, and whole grain pasta. These provide more fiber, vitamins, and minerals compared to refined grains.
- Apples, blueberries, clementines, grapefruits, and avocados are some examples of fruits.
- Broccoli, asparagus, onions, spinach, peppers, and zucchini are examples of non-starchy vegetables.
- Sweet potatoes, young red potatoes, and butternut squash are starchy vegetables.
- grains and beans, including quinoa, black beans, brown rice, and chickpeas
- Eggs, canned salmon, skin-on chicken breast, and pea protein powder are all sources of protein.
- items that are frozen: frozen kale and frozen mixed berries
- Roasted almonds, pumpkin seeds, and natural peanut butter are some nuts and seeds.
- Dairy and nondairy alternatives include feta cheese, cashew milk, coconut milk, and full-fat Greek yogurt.
- Olives, sun-dried tomatoes, salad dressing, olive oil, pesto, and salsa are examples of condiments.
- Drinks: sparkling water and unsweetened coconut water
- Ground coffee, dried fruit, dark chocolate, banana plantain chips, and shredded unsweetened coconut are included in the category of “other.”
Planning a weekly menu
Planning a weekly menu can help you stay organized, save time, and ensure that you have nutritious meals throughout the week. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you plan your weekly menu:
- Assess Your Schedule: Consider your weekly schedule, including work, school, and other commitments. Take note of days when you have more time to cook and days when you need quick and easy meal options.
- Determine the Number of Meals: Decide how many meals you want to plan for each day. This may include breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. You can plan for all meals or focus on the ones that are most important to you.
- Browse Recipes and Inspiration: Look for recipe ideas from cookbooks, websites, or food blogs. Consider your dietary preferences and any specific dietary restrictions or allergies. Look for recipes that are balanced, include a variety of food groups, and fit your skill level and time constraints.
How to stock your kitchen like a pro
Stocking your kitchen like a pro involves having a well-organized and well-stocked pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. Here are some tips to help you stock your kitchen like a pro:
- Assess Your Needs: Before you start stocking your kitchen, assess your cooking habits, dietary preferences, and the types of meals you typically prepare. Consider any dietary restrictions or allergies you may have. This will help you determine the types of ingredients and equipment you need.
- Plan Your Meals: Plan your meals for the week or at least have a general idea of the types of meals you like to cook. This will guide you in stocking up on the necessary ingredients.
- Create a Basic Pantry: Stock your pantry with essential items that have a longer shelf life. This may include staple ingredients like rice, pasta, quinoa, oats, canned beans, canned tomatoes, broth, spices, herbs, cooking oils, vinegar, flour, sugar, and baking essentials.
- Refrigerator Staples: Keep your refrigerator stocked with fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables, eggs, milk or plant-based milk, yogurt, cheese, condiments, and any perishable items you regularly use. Consider your meal plan and buy ingredients accordingly.
- Freezer Essentials: Utilize your freezer to store items with a longer shelf life. Stock up on frozen fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, poultry, pre-cooked meals, bread, and even homemade freezer-friendly meals.
- Organize Your Kitchen: Keep your kitchen well-organized with clear storage containers, labels, and storage systems. Group similar items together, and keep frequently used items within easy reach. This will help you find what you need quickly and efficiently.