We’ve all done it before. We’re late. We’ve had a long day at work and there’s no food in the house, so we quickly dash through the supermarket like we’re contestants on Supermarket Sweep and throw whatever we need in the shopping cart and get out.
Well, it’s in these reckless binge runs that we can do our bodies harm by carelessly throwing whatever comes to hand first into our carts. We usually grab food items that easy to make and that tastes good. Unfortunately these items tend to be highly processed foods packed with sugar and sodium!
Now, if you’re like most people, you probably think you don’t have the time or money to spend buying healthy foods, or you think if you want to eat healthy you need to go to a special health food store to shop. Well, throw all those excuses out the window. Your local grocery store packs on average about 40,000 items and many of these are healthy alternatives to what’s in your shopping cart.
So get ready as we show you 10 ways to easily shop for healthy foods without breaking your budget or wasting time looking for a health food store.
- Shop with a List! Don’t just wander aimlessly through the store. Know what you need and keep it neatly organized on a list you can easily read while shopping. Spending just a little time each day putting together this list will save you time later when you are actually in the grocery store. It also helps if you know your grocery store and categorize your items by the department they can be found in.This way you can avoid backtracking through the store when you realize your forgot something back in the dairy aisle. Keeping a list also prevents you from succumbing to the junk food aisle, saving you from unhealthy foods that are full of empty calories and sugar.
- Don’t Shop on an Empty Stomach! You know this is a bad idea. Once you hit the aisles and your stomach starts growling, you’re liable to pick up anything that moves! By making sure you shop for food on a full stomach, you’ll eliminate buying foods that are bad for you as well as food you just don’t need. This saves your body and your wallet. If you can’t shop after a meal, make sure you at least drink a glass of water before you go in to help alleviate some of your hunger.
- Buy Fresh Food! It really can’t get any simpler than this when it comes to eating healthy. By adding fresh foods such as fruits and vegetables to your list, you can easily add the needed vitamins and minerals you need to maintain a healthy diet. Take a look at what you’re currently buying. If more than 50 percent of your groceries are coming from a box or a can, you need to reevaluate your choices and head toward the fresh food.
- Shop the Perimeter of the Store. When you’re searching for the freshest foods, it helps to stay out of the central aisles unless absolutely necessary. In your local grocery store, the perimeter of the store is where they keep all the fresh food items including produce, dairy, and seafood.
- Don’t Walk By the Organics. When it comes to fresh food, quality counts, and your organics section should be one of your first stops in the grocery store. It may be a little more expensive than the regular section, but the added benefit of not having chemicals and pesticides is well worth the price. If you shop these sections right, you can target the items that are on sale and even get your organic food for less then your non-organics.
- Stay Away from Foods and Drinks with Corn Syrup. There is no nutritional value to corn syrup. It’s just an empty sweetener that is almost as bad as refined sugar. Don’t be fooled! Make sure you read the labels carefully and if corn syrup is one of the first four ingredients, put it down and walk away. You’ll be surprised at how many foods are packed with corn syrup including fruit juices, spaghetti sauces, and even some bread.
- Fresh Is the Best but Frozen Is Good Too. It’s not always feasible to have fresh foods all the time. So when fresh foods aren’t available, head toward the frozen aisle for a backup. Frozen vegetables and fruits are most often flash-frozen, which locks in nutrients. It’s always a good idea to keep a couple bags of frozen fruits or vegetables in your freezer. You can toss them in the microwave for a quick side dish, make fruit smoothies, or toss into plain yogurt for a fresh fruit taste.
- Keep Canned Tomato Products in Your Pantry. Fresh tomatoes are great but here’s one exception where fresher actually isn’t better. Studies have shown that tomato sauces, crushed tomatoes, and stewed tomatoes actually have an increased amount of the antioxidant lycopene. That’s because they are concentrated. Keeping these kitchen jewels handy can help you out the next time you are wondering what’s for dinner. Just throw some chicken and sauce in a crock pot or add crushed tomatoes to a soup, and you’ve got a healthy meal in no time!
- Avoid Processed Foods. Remember all those boxes and bags you were throwing in your cart earlier? Most likely it was all processed foods like chips, cookies, and frozen pizza. Save your money and your body. Skip the junk food and stock up on your fruits, vegetables, and meats instead. You’ll avoid the sugar rush and feel better in the long run.
- Try Whole Grains. The availability of whole grains has increased and it’s not uncommon to find whole grain products next to their processed counterpart. Whole grain pastas, brown rice, and whole wheat flour are great alternatives that not only are healthy but they taste great too. One warning when it comes to whole wheat products. Because more and more people are reaching for whole grains these days, packaging has gotten a little tricky. For instance, wheat bread is a good alternative to white bread, but look closely next time you pick up a loaf of wheat bread. If the first ingredient is refined wheat flour, then put it back. It’s made from the same stuff as white bread and quite possible is dyed brown to make it look healthier. As a general rule, whole wheat breads tend to be heavier and denser than white bread.
You don’t have to be a health nut to shop for healthy foods. With just a little discipline and by practicing the steps above, you’ll see how easy it is to shop for healthy foods in the comfort of your own local grocery store.