A well-thought-out grocery list is not only a memory aide, it can also keep you on track, minimizing impulse buying while saving you money. It will also set you up for success even when you're tight on time, helping you keep nutritious food on hand to eat all week.
Having the ingredients necessary to prepare tasty meals all week long is an excellent way to maintain a healthy diet. Having an empty fridge, freezer or pantry can lead you to rely on fast food or takeout, especially when you have a packed schedule. That's why it's so important to stock your shelves with nutritious options. An excellent way to start planning your meals is to create a recipe board detailing the meals you would like to eat for the week, including breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks. After figuring out what ingredients you will need to create your meals, add these to your grocery list, being sure to include the amount of each food you will need.
Keep a Running Grocery List
Rather than scrambling to remember which favorite pantry staple you recently ran out of, keep a running list of the items you need to buy during your next trip to the grocery store. Keeping track of the foods you use, as well as the new and healthy foods you want to try, will make compiling your weekly shopping list that much easier. Summary Meal planning is the first step to creating a healthy grocery shopping list. Creating a grocery list based on pre-planned meals will help you make nutritious dishes that fit your eating plan.
When you're creating a healthy grocery list, it's important to be realistic about the foods you will actually consume. Although you may want to try lots of new and different foods when you're first beginning a more nutritious way of eating, try to choose just a few new healthy foods each week. When you're grocery shopping without a list, it's easy to become sidetracked by items that appeal to you. This may cause you to purchase more food than you can realistically consume in a week, or lead you to choose items that you should be eating but don't necessarily like. This can lead to wasted food and less money in your wallet. Choosing just a few new foods each week to incorporate into your meals is a good way to expand your palate, add nutrients and discover which healthy foods you really enjoy. For example, if you are trying to incorporate more green, leafy vegetables like kale, arugula, and spinach into your diet but don't know which ones you would like, try out one new leafy green each week until you narrow down a few favorites.
Preparing for the week starts with what we keep in our pantry and fridge. As professionals, we don’t always have time to go to the grocery store multiple times a week. Nowadays, I go to the store once a week. I am out of the store in less than 30 minutes with everything I need for the week, and some treats.
Here are my tips for getting the most out of your grocery trip run in less time.
- Head straight to the produce section:
- Select 2-3 kinds of *vegetables that are in season (3-4 servings a day)
- Select your fresh ginger/garlic/onions
- Select 2 kinds of fruit you enjoy eating (1-2 servings a day)
- Walk around to the dairy/cold drink section:
- Select your milk of choice
- **Yogurt/cottage cheese (1 serving a day)
- Dry foods:
- If you’re making a stew or soup for the week, pick up broth.
- Pick out 1 breakfast ***cereal, bread, oats, tortilla (Fiber/serving > 5 grams, Added sugar/serving < 10 grams)
- Select 2 snacks—you can alternate these 1 serving a day
- Dried fruits
- Unsalted or low-sodium nuts (unsweetened)
- Frozen desserts (Fat/serving < 8 grams)
* Vegetables—the selection of vegetables depends largely on the season, so try to have a bit of variety. Pick vegetables that are easy to clean, like pre-washed spinach, to toss into a salad or soup. Also pick a few vegetables or root vegetables because they can stay fresh for longer periods of time. For instance, zucchini and cruciferous vegetables are hardy and can stay fresh in the fridge over 3-5 days.
**Yogurt—probiotics in yogurt are great for digestion and gut health. Depending on your diet preference, non-dairy and dairy options are both good. Pay attention to the nutrition labels, you want to pick ones that have less added sugars and high in protein. My favorites brands are Siggi’s, Fage, Mountain High, and Chobani’s.
***Cereal—picking out cereal and bread require some discernment in reading the nutrition labels. Many cereals are loaded with sugar and processed “grains.” You want to look for sprouted grains, whole grains. Avoid cereals with corn syrup, fructose, and added sugar. If you are a cereal eater, you will do better with cereal that contains more than 6 grams of proteins per serving and 6 grams of fiber per serving. These will keep you full longer, so you don’t just get the sugar-rush from ingesting carbohydrates. Avoid breads with less than 4 grams of fiber per serving.