Food shopping, much like balancing a checkbook, is one of those seemingly basic adult-ish things you should probably have perfected by the time you’re 25. But In a time where new health claims pop up faster and more frequently than a Kardashian selfie, navigating the aisles of the grocery store can be a bit umm… daunting, to say the least. If you’re the type of person that wants to walk out of the supermarket upon walking in, you’re going to want to bookmark (and possibly even print) this post.
Save money, minimize waste, and spend less time at the grocery store: 13 tips to make food shopping as painless as possible. Today we’re sharing everything you need to know to maneuver your way through the grocery store with Kanye style confidence. Because spoiler alert… your fridge should have more inside it than a half eaten pizza and last night’s leftover champagne.
Want more healthy eating info and high vibe nutrition knowledge? Get Nourished By Nature, our 14-day guide to living whole and eating well.
Your great big guide to grocery shopping the easy way:
“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” -Michael Pollan
Pro-tips for the non-pro shopper:
1. Shop the perimeter.
Nutrition 101: The bulk of your diet should be made up of simple, nutrient dense, fresh fruit and veggie forward fare. Therefore, your shopping cart should also be made up of simple, nutrient dense, fresh fruit and veggie forward fare. Although it varies store to store, in general, the perimeter of a grocery store is where you'll find fresh, whole-food essentials like greens, fruits, vegetables, raw nuts and seeds, fermented foods, beans, legumes, whole grains and pseudograins so stick to the periphery.
2. Keep it simple.
Simplify your weekly grocery haul so you don’t feel completely overwhelmed every time you open your fridge. Even if you have the best intentions, buying too much often results in a fridge full of ingredients you have no idea what to do with.
Yes, generally speaking try to stick with foods you know you like, but don’t be afraid to experiment with new ingredients. If something catches your eye or you find a recipe using an ingredient you’ve never had before, give it a try. It could easily become your new favorite food. To avoid new-food-overwhelm, maybe pick one new meal to try each week instead of 7.
4. Make a list.
Keep a running list of things you need to restock and only buy what you need. Nothing more. Always consider what you already have in the kitchen. And if you don’t want to be at the grocery store every other day, plan ahead. Take a look at your week, decide what meals you *think* you’re going to be having and make a list of what you need. If it’s written down you’re less likely to forget something and less likely to buy ingredients you won’t use.
5. Establish a shopping routine.
Everything’s easier when it’s part of your routine (grocery shopping included). Pick one day a week that works for you and your schedule.
6. Eat before you shop.
Try not to go food shopping when you’re hungry. You’ll end up filling your cart with things you don’t need.
7. Shop during off hours.
If you can, do your food shopping during off hours like early morning or late evenings to avoid crowds and chaotic shopping situations.
8. Start with the basics.
Stock your kitchen with the basics (fresh greens, fruits, vegetables, raw nuts and seeds, fermented foods, beans, legumes, whole grains and pseudograins), first. Then try incorporating specialty items like as plant-based protein powders and superfoods.
9. Shop online.
You can find great deals on staple ingredients all over the web. Some of our favorite websites for buying online are Thrive Market, amazon.com, iHerb.com and vitacost.com.
10. Read the labels.
Always, always, always, read the ingredient list before you purchase any type of packaged food. The majority of your diet should be made up of food that doesn’t have a label / package (i.e. fresh produce), however, if you are buying something in a package, ALWAYS read the ingredient list. If you see something you can’t pronounce, it’s probably not good for you. Expect a more detailed post on how to read and decipher nutrition labels and ingredient lists soon.
11. Eat seasonally.
When you buy foods that are in season, they’re delicious, nutritious and usually much less expensive. We like to buy large quantities of fresh fruit when it’s cheap and in season to freeze for smoothies. If you ever have overripe brown bananas sitting on your countertop, don’t throw them out! Peel and freeze. They’re perfect for making single ingredient banana soft-serve.
12. Get thrifty.
Usually grocery stores will have their own magazine or newspaper highlighting in-store sales and promotions. Take a look at what’s on sale or any coupons that you can use towards your purchase.
13. BYOB - bring your own bags.
Not only is this better for the environment, at most grocery stores (Whole Foods included), you get a $.05 - $.10 discount for every reusable bag you use.
Where is your favorite place to shop? Let us know in the comments section.
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For a more definitive guide to food shopping (with shopping list, go-to groceries and optional included), join us for Nourished By Nature.
Happy (healthy) shopping,
Erika & Jess
PS. Next week we’re sharing our best line of defense against eating (and feeling) like shit, post workday hanger, wasting money on food & spending hours and hours in the kitchen.
**This post is part of our month long Back To Basics series. If you're just catching up:
1. Back to basics - An introduction
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