Use this as a guide to fill your home with the healthiest food options possible.
Here are 6 simple tips for success at the grocery store:
1. Before you set out for the market, plan your meals for the week and create a list to shop from. This will save you time, money and set you up for healthier meals options throughout the week.
2. Shop the perimeter (the outer section) first where fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat and fish are usually located.
3. Avoid the center aisles if you tend to grab things that you won’t want around with easy access later. If you don’t want to eat the whole bag, don’t buy the whole bag – grab single servings, it doesn’t have to be off-limits!
4. Choose “real” foods like 100% whole-grain items that are as minimally processed as possible. You can always add a little healthy sweetener and salt and spices yourself.
5. Steer clear of foods that are targeted for children. It’s hard to eat the junk food if it’s not in the house.
6. Avoid foods that contain tons of ingredients, none of which look vaguely familiar.
Then, Go Seasonal whenever possible + Plan Your Kitchen Staple Items
Great choices include:
sweet potatoes, apples, turnips, squash, brussels sprouts, chard, pumpkin, apples, pears, cranberries, pomegranates, artichoke, arugula, beets and beet greens, bok choy, bell peppers, carrots, cauliflower, corn, eggplant, garlic, radishes, sweet potatoes, yellow and green squash, apples, cranberries, figs, limes, melon, peaches, pears, plums, raspberries, tomatoes, etc.
Hearty fruits and vegetables help us get through the cold weather, including:
Turnips, mushrooms, potatoes, pumpkin, onions, garlic, squash, parsnips, cauliflower, carrots, sweet potatoes etc.
Light and refreshing foods, sprouts, asparagus, peas, snap beans, fennel, collard, lettuce, lemons, limes, cherries, apricots, mustard greens, etc.
Cool down from heat with cucumbers, watermelon, cantaloupe, peaches, blueberries, strawberries, kiwi, etc.
100% certified organic whenever possible, begins with #9 on the label. Choose a rainbow of colorful fruits and vegetables since they hold many important vitamins and minerals. Combine different textures in salads and dishes. Look for firm and colorful fruits and always go for seasonal first, then add on. Organic is great, but some non-organic fruits and veggies are still a better option than none at all, do what you can!
Be sure to choose lean cuts of meat (like round, top sirloin, and tenderloin), opt for skinless poultry, and prep them in advance to be ready each meal. Quality is important. Go for organic, grass fed, free-range, organic as often as possible (again, do what you can!!)
Tofu, seitan, tempah, beans, legumes. Stock up on canned, organic low-salt beans for preparing quick, healthy protein packed meals.
Foods made from soybeans (non GMO) are some of the highest vegetarian sources of protein and contain about 15-20 grams per half cup. A soft tofu can be mashed with a fork or a firm tofu will be more substantial in texture and stand in for meat. There are many good options of seitan/tofu/tempah varieties like strips and crumbles that are excellent to replace meat in chilies, burgers, etc.
Salmon is a popular choice because most people like it, Salmon is widely available and it’s a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Cod, tilapia and fish that swim near the surface have less mercury if you have any health concerns. Wild caught beats farm raised whenever possible!
Great source of protein + healthy fats. Choose organic, free-range and vegetarian feed diet when possible.
When shopping for breads, choose the least processed brands that are made from whole grains or sprouted grains. Many of the sprouted grain breads are found in the freezer section. Try a brand like Ezekial. Keep in freezer or store in fridge if consuming fairly quickly. Since they don’t have all the “shelf-life” added chemicals they can go bad quickly if left out.
Canned and Dried Foods
Keep a variety of canned vegetables, fruits, and beans on hand to toss into soups, salads, pasta, or rice dishes. Go for organic and opt for fruit that’s packed in it’s own juice without added sugar or syrup. Fresh water albacore tuna, healthy low-fat soups and nut butters are great to have on hand.
If you consume dairy, organic whole milk is an excellent source of bone-building calcium and vitamin D. Try switching to unsweetened almond or coconut milk if you have any digestive concerns. It’s delicious in cereals and substitutes well for just about anything where you would use dairy milk.
The list of ingredients should be short and have no more than 10 grams of sugar and at least 4 grams of fiber. Carefully check granola labels as even the “low-fat” variety tend to have more fat and sugar than other cereals. If you like sweeter cereals, save them for a treat instead of a staple!
To satisfy a sweet tooth increase sweet fruits and vegetables: carrots, yams, sweet potatoes, berries, melon, etc.
Raw honey and maple syrup in moderation are good sweeteners and barley malt/molasses and brown rice syrup are good for buttery flavor.
Pure stevia or coconut palm sugar is also a better choice than white sugar and good for sweetening coffee and teas.
Oils And Fats
Cold pressed, unrefined and organic.
Low temp: sesame and olive oils.
High temp; coconut, sesame, sunflower or grape seed.
If you use dairy, organic, grass-fed butter is the best option when possible.
Stocks and Broths
Low-sodium, organic vegetable broth is a great way to season and add moisture to many dishes and for soup bases. Add bone broth for the easiest way to increase protein intake for the day!
Pasta, Flour and Grains
Choose the type of flour that works best for you (the less processed the better if we want to keep some fiber content in tact). There are plenty of gluten-free varieties these days, so if you have a gluten sensitivity, you’ll have plenty of options. For gluten-free flour, I like Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Flour, but test some and see what you prefer.
Stock your freezer with organic frozen fruits and vegetables. It’s a convenient way to always have produce on hand, especially in the winter months, and very handy when you need a quick dish and the fruits are great for a quick-prep smoothie, and even to snack on if you’re craving something sweet.
Condiments keep well in the fridge and usually last a few months or more. Stock up on Tamari for soups, grains, veggies and protein, Dijon mustard, balsamic and apple cider vinegar for salads/dressings. If using things like ketchup, go for organic and low sugar/few additives when you can.
So many flavors to choose from including: cumin, cayenne, turmeric, curry, sea salt, cracked black pepper and garlic to spice up vegetables and protein. Cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg are excellent for teas and sweeter dishes.
Use fresh organic herbs when available to add aroma and flavor to warm dishes. Use organic dried herbs if fresh are not available: basil, garlic, oregano, rosemary, thyme and cilantro, parsley for salads, Asian and Italian style dishes.
Nuts and Seeds
Walnuts are considered the one of the healthiest foods full of anti-oxidants and high in omega-3 fats and other minerals. Choose raw walnuts, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts and chia, hemp and sesame seeds. They are great in many warm and cold dishes and sprinkled on salads and oatmeal/cereals and in smoothies. A quick handful is perfect for an energy boost and to quell hunger cravings.
Seaweed is full of B vitamins and minerals. Kombu is great for soups. Store in glass jars. Nori strips (dried seaweed) are a tasty, crunchy snack.
Teas vs. Coffee
Teas are like a medicine cabinet, with green and black teas promoting digestion. Chamomile tea is wonderful for bedtime/relaxing. Go for herbal teas and make a pitcher of iced herbal tea with natural sweeteners. Organic and fair trade teas are the best.
Handful of nuts (almond, walnuts, etc.), organic dried fruit (sparingly) trail-mix, low-sugar energy bars like Kind or Lara Bars. At least 70% dark chocolate, fresh veggies like carrots, celery, peppers with hummus, apple with smear of nut butter.
Avoid soda/diet soda, super sugary “fruit” drinks or pre-made smoothies. Stock up on flavored seltzer water and make pitchers of herbal tea. Drink plenty of water with lemon.
Plan a list of staples and keep it in your phone. Not only will this help you know what you need to stock-up on, you’ll also have things on hand that align with your goals more consistently!