Healthy food prevents you from feeling like crap. Eating healthy will help you meet your weight loss goals. Healthy foods give you the vitamins and minerals you need to keep your butt from dragging. That’s right when you eat healthy you have more energy!
Ok that all sounds great and amazing but if you don’t know where to start I’m kinda wasting my breath right? I’m going to show you how to come up with the perfect plan to shop for healthy food.
So I don’t want to just spout off, hey this is what you need to do. I want to actually give you steps you can use right away to start shopping for nutritious food at the grocery store.
After all what good does all the information in the world do if there is no clear path to figure out how to use it?
7 Steps to Planning a Healthy Grocery Trip
Are you struggling with where to start get overwhelmed and just go with what you know? That stops today. If you put these steps in Action you will be eating healthier in no time.
It’s ok to step out of your comfort zone. With a solid plan we can get you shopping like a pro in no time.
- What foods do you and your family like to eat?
- What healthy foods and meals are already in your regular plan?Work those into your rotation just make sure they are healthy.
Meet the criteria for a Healthy Meal
Have lean protein
Healthy carbs but not super refined carbs
Have healthy fats like avocado, olive oil etc
Do you have a list of your families favorites and want to check out how nutritious they are? Check out how to understand a nutrition label to become an expert.
2. Give Family Favorites a Face Lift
- What are some meals that might not meet the criteria that your family likes?
- How can you adapt them to be healthier?
- What is unhealthy about the meal?
- The sauce?
- The preparation method? Fried?
- The carbohydrate level? Breaded?
Challenge: Pick one of your slightly less healthy staples and give it an upgrade.
For example, let’s say your family eats chicken fettucini alfredo once a month. You can try lightening up the sauce or trading out the noodles for zoodles. Try both at the same time if you like, but it might be easier to slowly change the recipe allowing your family and taste buds to adapt.
If you cannot fathom this try adding a large salad with light dressing and half your usual portion of noodles and sauce but add some extra lean grilled chicken.
Fried chicken? Try baked chicken or skillet chicken with a light spritz of olive oil. If you cannot live without breading try these Skinny Baked Chicken Fingers from Skinny Mom
Change your cooking method, instead of fried try sauteed with water or a light spritz of oil or baked in the oven. Crock pots work wonders to shred meats for you. For even more time savings try raw veggie sides instead of French fries or tater tots.
- Make a list of your families favorite healthy foods.
- Decide what healthy meals your family will eat regularly.
- Checked to make sure your healthy meals meet healthy meal criteria.
- Plan a healthy swap for some of your families not so healthy favorites.
3. Plan Your Meals According to the Season
What season is it? Seasonal food should play a huge part in your healthy diet. Fresh foods tastes delicious during their prime growing time each year. All fruits and vegetables are going to fall under this category. Some fruits and veggies can grow pretty much year round so we get lucky there.
Take advantage of buying your produce when its at its best. Besides being its most delicious produce is also cheaper when it’s in season. To spot a fruit or vegetable in season check out your local grocery store ads. See the produce that seems way cheaper than it’s usual price? You have just located what’s in season.
In my area Asparagus is in season, it is normally priced over $2.00 a pound so it usually stays at the store. My last two grocery trips I have purchased asparagus for $1.00 a pound and last week 84 cents a pound. Score!
- Make a list of your families favorite produce. Check out the US Seasonal Produce list above to and make a note of when it’s most practical to buy your families favorites.
4. Where In the World Is Your Home Sweet Home
Where do you live? Certain areas of the country are known for what they produce. When someone mentions Wisconsin and food it’s hard not to think about cheese. Do you live on the coast where fresh seafood is abundant? Perhaps you hail from the Midwest and grew up eating deer sausage and stew? Is your slice of the world known for any certain something?
- Make a list of your families favorites that your area is known for.
5. What is Your Cash Flow?
Shopping for nutritious food can be accomplished on any budget, but you do have to take into consideration what type of budget you are working with. This will allow you to plan for whether you are purchasing chicken thighs that you need to de-bone and get rid of skin on your own or pre-chopped and cleaned chicken breast that are ready to be added to your recipe. Sometimes a smaller budget does require a bigger time commitment but not always.
Substitutions are a great way to save cash and still make recipes your family loves. Using the chicken as an example check out the prices of:
- Chicken Thighs
- Chicken Breast
- Canned chicken breast
- Chickpeas/Garbanzo beans
With your diet goals and restrictions in mind see what fits with your budget and if any of these items would be a good substitute. I have seen recipes for Beef and Broccoli, Chicken and Broccoli, and Tofu and Broccoli. This is just an example there are tons of substitutions to make recipes fit your life by experimenting to see what works best for you! Anything is doable with an open mind.
- Decide how much money you will be spending on food.
- Plan meals around the money you have available.
- Try substitutions if an ingredient is out of your budget.
6. Shop with Your Goals in Mind
Don’t blow your budget on Artisan breads if your goal is to avoid low value carbohydrates. Are you looking for more protein in your diet? Spend your time shopping in the lean meats, lean dairy, poultry, eggs, and seafood sections.
Think about who will be eating the groceries you buy. Sometimes it’s best to change up one or two items slowly if you are completely overhauling your families’ diet. Too much change too soon can lead to a world of frustration if you end up throwing away entire meals because your family isn’t used to the new fare. Trust me I have been there it’s not fun!
Make sure to keep your specific goals in mind before you head off to the grocery store.
- Write down your goals.
- Verify that the goals you wrote down fit with the meals you have written down.
- Make adjustments to your meal list if needed.
7. Time Commitment
Not all meals are created equal when it comes to time. Pay attention to the amount of time your weeknight meals take. Are you super busy? Is there anyway you can do some of the prep on the days you have a lighter workload? Should you look for meals that take less time to cook?
- Decide how much time you have to plan meals.
- Make a plan for prepping meals ahead of time if needed.
- Find recipes that don’t take forever if you are short on time.
The Master List
Ok so we have been brainstorming forever! But rest assured after this initial session you will have a better general idea and won’t have to spend as much time ever again!
As long as you did the work, you have accumulated a master list of all your families favorites and when its best to buy them. That is a huge accomplishment. Way to go! You can use this as your base list and add several new healthy recipes and ingredients as you do your shopping for the week or month.
The Grocery List
The only thing you have left to do is gather all your data decide how many meals you will be shopping for and make your grocery list from your meal plan.
Don’t leave home without your list or you will come back with a mismatch of items and a feeling of frustration that you still have nothing to eat!
You are now armed with all the knowledge you need to purchase healthy and nutritious groceries. I hope you enjoyed 7 Steps to Planning a Healthy Grocery Trip and share it with your friends who want to improve their eating. xoxo, Cynthia