The main goal of healthy grocery shopping is to avoid highly processed foods filled with chemical flavorings, added sugar, refined flour and artificial sweeteners.
Eating healthy isn’t complicated, but healthy grocery shopping can be work. Getting real, whole foods to the table at every meal isn’t easy.
Navigating the grocery can feel overwhelming, but let’s talk a bit about healthy grocery shopping with more confidence and higher success! The main goal is to avoid highly processed foods filled with chemical flavorings, added sugar, refined flour and artificial sweeteners. The trick is to avoid constant exposure to high-calorie, shelf-stable processed foods and beverages.
Healthy Grocery Shopping
- Read the ingredients to discover if you’re eating real, whole foods or highly processed food products. For example, a highly processed food like a pre-packed pastry might list up to 50 ingredients, and you might find words like enriched flour, high fructose corn syrup and sugar. This is a product to avoid. Consider a healthier pre-packed product like a more natural bar with dates, almonds, unsweetened apples, walnuts, raisins and cinnamon.
- Have a plan — walk into the store with a well-prepared grocery list.
- You can’t go wrong in the produce section — but be sure to have a plan for all the fresh produce that you buy. You don’t want any to go to waste. Remember, natural sources of carbohydrates like fruit and starchy vegetables like potatoes can be a healthy party of your diet.
- Buy frozen produce instead of canned. Frozen produce is flash-frozen at peak ripeness, so it provides higher amounts of vitamins and minerals than its canned counterparts.
- Plan non-meat meals to help decrease spending — canned beans, lentils, whole grains, eggs, nuts and nut spreads can make a great protein source for a meal. Try a bean soup, a quinoa salad, eggs and toast, or a peanut butter sandwich for a change. This can help save money for other food priorities.
- When you are buying meat, choose antibiotic-free varieties — antibiotics consumed by eating meat from treated animals can harm the healthy bacteria that live in your gut. Decrease your exposure to antibiotics by being more selective with your meat choices.
- Choose whole or intact grains — when looking for minimally processed foods like bread, tortillas, pasta and crackers, reach for whole wheat varieties. You can step it up even more by eating intact grains like brown rice, quinoa, barley and farro. These foods are filled with fiber and can be a great base for endless meal options.
- Reach for canned tomato products. These are the exception to the frozen rule. Canned tomatoes contain even more lycopene, the tomato’s claim to fame, than fresh tomatoes! When looking for recipes, swap out less-healthy recipes that call for cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soups that are filled with additives, and opt for canned tomato-based recipes.
Erin Wiedmar, M.Ed., RDN, L.D., CDE, is a clinical nutritionist with Norton Healthcare.