Your family’s health and fitness starts with nutrition and what is available in the house. Picking the right foods at the grocery store is essential if you want to stay on the path of good health. Preparation is always key when it comes to proper nutrition and the first step is your grocery list. You’ve always heard the saying, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. It’s true for trips to the store as well. How many times have you forgotten key items, bought items you already had, or picked up random unhealthy snacks. Having a plan and an accurate list before you leave the house will not only save you money, but keep you on track nutrition wise.
Grocery Planning Tips:
• Pick a day: Try to have designated ‘grocery’ days. If you have a set day each week you can purchase what you need for that week and not over buy.
• Running list: Have a running grocery list somewhere in the kitchen and when you notice something is getting low write it down immediately so you don’t forget. The goal is to not run out of important items, but also not buy too many extra.
• Take a photo: Leaving the grocery list at home or just losing it happens to everyone. Take a photo of the list with your phone as a back up.
• Call it in: If you are shopping and not sure if you need something call a family member to check the fridge or cabinets.
• Stick to the list: Buying only what you need to get you to your next shopping day will not only save you money, but keep unhealthy foods out of your house. If it’s not there you can’t eat it.
• Don’t go hungry: It’s always a good idea to not go shopping while you are hungry. Try to at least have a snack beforehand so you are not overly thinking about all the tasty foods of the world.
• Read the label: Get in the habit of looking at food labels. Just because the label has ‘low sugar’, ‘low sodium’, or ‘whole wheat’ doesn’t mean it is actually healthy. Often times the serving size has been manipulated to a very small portion so of course sugar and sodium is going to be lower. Make sure labels say 100% whole wheat otherwise it typically will include other unwanted ingredients.
There are many choices to make when strolling down the grocery aisles. Here is a guide to making good choices in each section of the grocery store.
Dairy: Avoid the whole milk and go for almond milk, coconut milk, skim or low-fat 1% milk instead. Other solid picks include non-fat Greek yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese, low-fat cheeses, eggs, and regular butter (not spreads with hydrogenated oils).
Meat and seafood: Good choices include chicken and turkey (skinless or ground), fish, lean ground beef (occasionally), and reduced sodium lunch meat. Red meat is ok every now and then just go for leaner cuts with less fat.
Produce: Pick up all the fruits and vegetables you can handle. It’s hard to go wrong in this section of the grocery store. The more colorful your picks the better.
Bakery: Try to stick to breads that are ‘100% whole wheat’ and have that listed first on the label. Same goes for tortillas.
Cereals: The best selections in this isle would be whole grain cereals, whole grain breakfast bars, and oatmeal. Watch for choices with low sugar and stay away from the pre-flavored oatmeal varieties. Step up the taste by adding fruit and/or a dash of raw honey.
Pasta, rice, beans: Whole wheat pastas, brown rice, and most beans are great choices. Other good options include quinoa, lentils, and a variety of seeds.
Snacks: This is where it’s easy to go wrong because there are so many boxes of goodness out there covered in salt or chocolate. Try to stick to dried fruits, nuts, seeds, dark chocolate, whole grain crackers, and natural peanut butter or almond butter.
Soups and canned foods: A lot of canned products are loaded with sodium or sugar. Look for items that are canned with water, juice, and ‘low sodium’ in general. Go for fresh foods if possible, but if choosing from this isle stick to canned tuna or chicken in water, fruits canned in juice instead of syrup, low-sodium soups and broths, and a variety of beans.
Oils, sauces, dressings, condiments: Look for items with less sugar and sodium such as mustard, salsa, balsamic and red win vinegar, hot sauce, stevia, raw honey, canola oil, extra virgin olive oil, non-fat cooking spray.
Frozen foods: While one should skip the frozen pizzas and TV dinners there are still some good choices to be found here including frozen vegetables, fruits, shrimp, whole grain waffles, and low calorie ice cream.
Drinks: Drinking water for the majority of your liquid intake would be the healthiest choice, but there are still some great options in this section including unsweetened teas (green, ginger, iced), coffee, sparkling water, and unsweetened seltzer.
Of course there are many more options depending on where you live and what stores you frequent. Taking the time to plan out shopping ahead of time will not only save money, but have you eating healthier. Take it a step further by then planning what you will be eating at least a day ahead of time. Prepare what you can for the next day before you go to bed. A Fitmark ‘meal management‘ bag can then be a great asset to your healthy living lifestyle.
Annihilate to Motivate,
Michael Wittig, ISSA CPT
IPE Natural Pro 3x Champ