The next time you're at the grocery store, take a second to look down at the items in your basket. Does it look pretty healthy? Or does it look a small child was allowed to pick out all of his/her favorites?
Although buying organic produce and grass-fed meats can be costly, this isn't the only way to improve your grocery list's quality.
If you're in the habit of grabbing one processed food after another, let this quick session help you begin to change that habit into a positive one that will lead you to healthier, more enjoyable and more satisfying choices!
1. Let’s start with the produce section!
For this fresh section, start by looking for sale items. Hold off on buying bulk produce items until you reach the frozen section. In many instances, frozen can have as many or even more nutrients than their fresh counterparts.
2. Next, the cereal aisle.
This is a tricky area! Depending on your goal, you may be looking for a variety of things. No matter what, always remember: look high and look low! These shelves contain the best buys. The items at eye level are typically more expensive and not likely to be your best choices.
You can usually purchase organic steam-rolled oats or steal-cut oats for the same price as non-organic. And, avoiding instant products costs you about 2 minutes of cooking time, but gives you many more vitamins and much more fiber.
Cereal alone is one of the most expensive and high carbohydrate foods in our homes. It's typical to eat portions way beyond the serving sizes, which can lead to high blood glucose early in the day and low blood sugar later on.
3. Next up: gluten-free products like chips and crackers.
Not everyone wants or needs gluten-free products. However, for chips that have few or no preservatives, this may be the best area of the store to shop. Many of the gluten-free chips are vegetable or bean-based and higher in fiber. These items are also on sale more often, like buy-one, get-one-free. Learning the cycle of sales on the specialty items can save huge amounts and greatly improve the health of your grocery basket.
4. Over to the meat aisle!
Stop for a second. Try to avoid processed meats and purchase the best quality meats you can afford. Luncheon meats are very expensive and the added salts and other preservatives are known and well-documented as increasing blood pressure. These products generally have added carbohydrates, as well. Baked chicken tenders or boneless breasts serve as wonderful sandwich meats. Aim for unprocessed meats that are lean and season at home.This substantially reduces cost, calories, fat, and health risks.
In 2 pounds of ground meat, I like to use a mixture of 2 teaspoons of dried sage, 2 teaspoons of salt, 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper, ¼ teaspoon of dried marjoram, 3/4 tablespoon brown sugar, 1/8 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes, and a pinch of ground cloves.
5. Now, the frozen aisles.
Again, these are a great way to pick up more unprocessed items. Look for bags of vegetables and fruits without sauces. Using popular recipe sites, you can make your own sauces, without added preservatives. Adding something simple, like chia seeds, to a defrosted array of frozen fruits with a dollop of whipped topping makes a beautiful afternoon snack.
6. Finally, the soda aisle.
This is a real problem aisle for many - avoid this aisle at all costs!
Consider home-brewing black, green, and white teas. Add a variety of different flavors like lemon, lime, cherries, strawberries, cranberries, etc. to the teas for flavor in place of artificial sweeteners.