9 Hacks Wellness Girlies Always Use While Grocery Shopping

Source: @erewhon
Source: @erewhon

Every Sunday afternoon, I look forward to my weekly grocery run. Forget walls filled with colorful shoes: give me a produce section overflowing with ripe vegetables, and I’ll be raving about it all week. There is something about a grocery haul that leaves you full and satisfied for the week, but also feeling accomplished. Don’t get me wrong, I was not always this girl. I used to dread grocery shopping. The lines, the overwhelming selection, and don’t get me started on the price of berries. I would leave the store feeling like I spent too much money and had no meal plan to show for it. But thanks to some helpful changes and tips, I’ve transformed the way I grocery shop and therefore eat. Read on for the hacks healthy women always use while grocery shopping. 

1. Plan before going to the grocery store

Perusing the aisles without any semblance of a grocery list can be costly and time-consuming. Not only will putting a shopping list together save you from overbuying food that ends up being thrown out, but it will also help you determine what items you can use for multiple meals, especially if you are buying for just yourself. Plus, you’ll be more efficient while you shop and when you meal prep for the week. If you dread creating yet another list, try an app that’ll do the work for you, like AnyList or Mealime.

2. Never shop on an empty stomach

We’ve all been there: You’ve shut your laptop for the day and you’re coming up on dinnertime, but you realize you have no food in the house. You make a mad dash to the store only to end up with odds and ends (AKA more sugary and salty snacks to your cart that you probably don’t need) for instant gratification. To avoid a haul made up of mostly unhealthy items (and a blood sugar rush), try to schedule your grocery shopping after you’ve had a whole, balanced meal. Your wallet will benefit too.

3. Shop in season

Our bodies naturally crave fruits and vegetables that are in season, and it’s important to honor that. Eating seasonally supports your body’s needs, tastes better, is more nutritious, and is cost-effective. Purchasing from your local farmers’ market instead of a chain grocery store is a surefire way to find local and sustainable items. Even if you’re shopping at your local grocery chain, Whole Foods, or Trader Joe’s, opt for organic in-season foods, as they’re likely the most local and will still contain similar benefits if they’re not. Research what is locally in season in your area using a resource like The Seasonal Food Guide, and use your trusty app to compile a list of the in-season produce you’d like to bring home.

4. Read food labels

…But we’re not talking about tracking calories (the healthiest women know health is about an abundance of nutrients, not limiting calories); we’re talking about understanding food quality. Even if an item is marketed with traditionally “healthy” adjectives like “natural,” “gluten-free,” or “sugar-free,” there could be other not-so-good-for-you ingredients lurking in them, like added sugars or chemicals. Front labels that make health claims can be misleading, making you believe a product is healthier than the same product that doesn’t have marketing buzzwords on its packaging when it’s not.

A good rule of thumb? Scan the ingredients list (especially the first few listed). Product ingredients are listed by quantity— from highest to lowest amount—so the first ingredient is what the manufacturer used the most. If they include refined grains, a type of sugar, or hydrogenated oils, it’s a safe bet the product is not as nutritious as you may think. Choose packaged goods with ingredients that are mostly (or completely) whole foods (read: ingredients you might have sitting around your kitchen, rather than something that has to be made in a factory). If you are unsure about a product and can’t pronounce half its ingredients, check if there is a healthier alternative.

Source: @kayla_seah

5. Don’t underestimate frozen produce

While I consider the frozen section one of the more indulgent aisles in the grocery store (frozen pizza and ice cream always call my name), it also contains some hidden gems, such as frozen produce. It’s a fair assumption that fresh produce is best, but research has shown that frozen fruits and vegetables can have just as many vitamins—and sometimes more—as their newly-harvested counterparts. Since the spinach you bought doesn’t last very long, having some frozen veggies and fruit on hand comes in handy for whipping up a healthy meal at a moment’s notice. Plus, they’ll keep for a long time (veggies and fruit can last up to a year, depending on what they are), so you don’t have to worry about them spoiling anytime soon. 

6. Opt for grass-fed and organic meats and dairy

You know the saying, “You are what you eat?” Well, it couldn’t be any more relevant than when it comes to shopping for meat and dairy products. Not all animals are treated or fed the same; it’s important to select animal products carefully. Processed protein varieties, such as processed meats like sausages and bacon and “fake meat” products, may include additives and preservatives that can disrupt gut health. On the other hand, animal protein from pasture-raised chicken, grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish, and other organic sources contains high nutrients and does not cause inflammation as we see in processed farm-raised meat. Yes, it is more expensive to buy organic and grass-fed, but this is one of the areas most experts agree is worth splurging on. Read the labels and shop locally whenever possible. 

7. Know your splurges versus savings

Maybe you have the mentality that healthy eating has to be expensive, but that’s not necessarily the case. Like anything in life, you pick and choose where you splurge versus where you save. And grocery shopping is no exception. Consider paying more for organic and grass-fed meats, dairy, the dirty dozen (the highest pesticide-sprayed crops, so you’ll ideally want to buy them organic), and high-quality oils (think: avocado and extra virgin olive oil). As far as where you can save, buy nuts and seeds in bulk, frozen or canned seafood, and generic store-brand pantry staples like dried pasta, broths, and condiments.

8. Choose healthy and filling snacks

When we’re meal prepping, we typically think to plan meals ahead of time, but when we’re hungry around 3 p.m. and have nothing planned, we go to the convenient and easily-ready bag of chips. I’m a huge snacker. Mid-morning, late afternoon–you name it, I’m snacking. While you should always eat when you’re hungry instead of based on times of the day (that’s called intuitive eating!), snacking can often mean packaged foods high in sugar, added chemicals, and sodium. Plan for snack time by having healthy and filling snacks at the ready: jerky, hummus with crackers or vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, mixed nuts, Greek yogurt with berries, or cottage cheese, to name a few.

9. Shop for your body

The wellness industry is full of so many options that it can easily become overwhelming. But like anything else having to do with our bodies, grocery shopping and nutrition is not one-size-fits-all. When it comes to choosing items at the grocery store, listen to your body above all other advice. Foods that are considered “healthy” may not make you feel good. Figure out what works and doesn’t work for your body and shop according to that information, rather than what’s trending on TikTok. Experiment with new produce, grains, fats, and other foods that are full of nutrients, but then check in with your body to see how it responds. Add the foods that make you feel amazing to your go-to grocery list, and for the foods that don’t, you know what to do: Ditch ’em.

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