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Many people want to eat better, but are unaware of the importance of such a key yet common step- buying food – which is NOT necessarily the same as “healthy shopping”. There are people who go to the grocery store fully planning on improving their diet and making better choices, however, often they succumb to cravings, marketing tricks and end up filling their cart with far from healthy products.
As Isaac Asimov was quoted as saying, “Sometimes the most difficult thing is to be able to see the most obvious thing”, don’t you agree? As grocery shopping is such a common chore, we underestimate how vital it is in developing healthy eating habits. So, how can we eat better if the foundation on which we built these habits isn’t strong enough? Steve Jobs once said: “Simple can be harder than complex”. Your success in making healthier purchases will depend on your organization because you must have a clear path to achieve your goal, and in order to have a clear path you must remember your “why”. Meaning, what is motivating you to want to have a healthier diet.
Healthy Grocery Shopping Basics: The Meal Plan:
Your meal plan will be your action plan- like any other project- and healthy eating is a life-long project that should be thought out. Keep in mind that ideally, we want our meals to provide us with proteins, fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Making it essential for us to look over our meal plans and make sure that they are aligned with our goals of eating healthier.
- Make your meals a rainbow: alternate between foods, especially fruits and vegetables. This will help you to eat better and get the benefits from the different properties that each one offers because remember, they aren’t all the same.
- Take into account you and your family’s routine: the days you go to the gym when the kids have an extracurricular activity if you or your kids will need a snack… This will avoid the need for any last-minute or impulsive shopping.
- Choose water as your quintessential drink and cut out all and any juices. Instead, opt for smoothies that take advantage of the whole fruit and not just its juice.
- Make a meal plan that lasts for more than 7 days. You can make one based on how frequently you grocery shop (that is of course if you don’t shop for longer periods of time). This keeps you from repeating the same menu every week as the idea isn’t to get bored!
- Stick to your grocery list, don’t make room for the enemy! The less temptation at home the better. You don’t want to have those less healthy temptations sitting on the shelf at home.
Make A Grocery List
Once you’ve looked over your meal plan and made sure that it meets with your goal, prepare your grocery list of the things you’ll need. You can go the traditional route and write the list down, or the more modern route and use your phone, whichever you choose be sure not to lose or erase your list as it will serve as a backup list for the coming purchases.
To save time, put your list into groups: vegetables, fruits, meats, etc… This will stop you from having to jump around on the list and go from one side of the store to the other and keep you from forgetting something and having to go back. Be sure to check your pantry and make sure you don’t already have an ingredient, that way you don’t buy more than you need. Also, another important thing is to get your kids involved in the process which will teach them about healthy eating habits.
Let The Healthy Shopping Begin
Time to make your action plan come to life! Planning out your route might seem obvious, but it’s more strategic than you might think. Remember that the marketing techniques used by large grocery store chains or the manufactures can be deceiving.
- Never go grocery shopping hungry! Stick to your list and ignore your stomach!
- Plan everything out so you can reach your goal: be clear about what you’re going to buy, avoid going through the sweets aisle, and avoid the tricky marketing strategies that tempt you to buy products you don’t really need. It doesn’t matter how good the offer is! For all this and more, stick to your route.
- Opt for fresh, local, and seasonal products: this helps to reduce your carbon footprint and overall global warming. Take advantage of the opportunity to teach your kids about which fruits and vegetables are in season and when.
- Get out of a boring routine and try something different! Try a fruit or veggie that you’ve never tried before, or try an old favorite in a new way. I know we said not to deviate from the grocery list, but adding a new fruit or vegetable never hurt.
- Leave the frozen food for last. Not only does this prevent it from getting warm, but it prevents the organoleptic properties from possibly altering as well as its safety. Just another reason it’s important to have an established route through the store.
Read the Labels: Know What You’re Buying
To eat healthily you must buy products that are healthy. Read the label to find out if you are choosing the best option. Take the opportunity to show your children how to read the label, this will keep them more entertained and at the same time teach them about buying healthy.
One of the things that we need to pay extra attention to is if a product contains sugars or sweeteners as there are many products that at first glance don’t appear to but in reality, do. Which is the case for prepared tomato sauce, “diet” bars, bagged bread… Lastly, pay attention to expiration dates. That will keep you from buying food that might expire before you get a chance to use it, thus wasting food.