The holidays are here and there are so many things that you’d like to do. But amidst all of the special holiday events, celebrations, and get-togethers, you still need to do your routine tasks, right? And grocery shopping is one of those things that never goes away. It’s just one more thing on your family’s list that just needs to be crossed off each week.
Many busy moms that I work with tell me that they don’t spend much time actively making a meal plan for the week or searching out the healthier options on their weekly shopping trips. And this could be costing you dearly if this is your habit too. Because, unfortunately, much of the time when we’re not prepared we end up falling victim to the marketing signage, sales, and BOGOs rather than choosing the best food options for ourselves and our families. And when you’re shopping during the holidays, you may just want to “get in and get out.” But rushing through your grocery shopping without a plan can thwart your healthy eating goals. But here’s the good news! It doesn’t have to be this way. It is possible to shop smart during the holidays… even amidst all of your other hustling and bustling (or traveling).
So follow the 6 tips I’ve put together here to have a healthy strategy the next time you are preparing to go grocery shopping during the holidays.
7 Tips for Grocery Shopping During the Holidays
1. Shop the perimeter of the store first.
Most grocery stores are laid out in a similar way. The deli and bakery are near the front, with the “real” food items less accessible in the sides and back of the store. Bypass the bakery and head to the perimeter of the store as this is normally where you’ll find the healthier options such as fresh produce, dairy, fresh meat, and fish. Head to these sections of the store first to ensure that you’ll get the healthier options into your cart first.
2. Choose a variety of proteins.
When you think “protein,” you might think mainly of meat and chicken. However, consider that there are many other options for getting protein onto your plate including sustainable, wild-caught fish. Beans and legumes are good sources of plant protein, fiber, B-vitamins, iron, folate, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and zinc. Most beans are also low in fat. Some grains like quinoa are also loaded with a good amount of protein, according to medlineplus.gov.
3. Choose single-ingredient foods more often.
Much of the food in grocery stores today is what’s considered processed foods. Processed foods have been “modified” in some way and may contain undesirable ingredients such as hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, preservatives, higher amounts of sugar and salt, and numerous artificial ingredients. Processed foods are everywhere, especially during the holidays. Minimize your purchase of processed foods to ensure your dinner table contains nourishing meals.
4. Select brightly colored fruits and vegetables.
These are the ones that will contain higher amounts of phytochemicals (no they’re not the “bad” kind of chemicals). Also known as phytonutrients, these substances are becoming more widely credited with having a positive effect on human health. According to a 2014 study published in the Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine, phytonutrients “may provide medical health benefits including the prevention and/or treatment of disease and various physiological disorders.”
5. Become familiar with nutrition labeling.
If you’re trying to shop for healthy groceries during the holidays, you’ll want to pause to read the nutrition labels before placing items in your shopping cart. Reading food labels is one of the first steps to healthy meals and good health. Inform yourself by turning over the package and looking at the ingredient list and the nutrition label. You may be returning some of those items to the shelf.
6. Plan meals in advance.
Prepare by sticking to a meal planning routine. Planning out your meals and shopping from a list is a surefire way to keep healthy food in your shopping cart during the holidays. Avoid being tempted by the holiday treats that are being displayed near your grocery store’s entrance. Have your meals mapped out in advance so you can make wiser choices. Planning your meals has other benefits too. Rather than scrambling to put something together at the last moment – which is usually a set up for the less healthy options – you’ll have your meals planned, spend less time in the kitchen, and ultimately get the healthy foods you really want to provide for your family onto the table.
7. Skip the lines and shop online.
Ordering groceries online is a smart way to save time and money while grocery shopping durin the holidays. And one of the resources I often recommend to friends, family, and clients is Thrive Market. Thrive Market offers a huge selection of many healthy products that you just cannot find in the regular grocery store. As a benefit to my newsletter subscribers, I’ve partnered with Thrive Market to give you a huge discount and free shipping.
Featured Family Resource
Thrive Market is a healthy online shopper’s dream come true. They offer Whole Foods quality at Costco prices; delivered straight to your doorstep. Their products are healthy and affordable, wholesome, non-toxic – and the best part? Their prices are lower than in-store prices. Visit this page to learn more about Thrive Market and to claim your discount. After you sign up here, I’ll send the details to your email.
Shopping for healthy food or household products – even during the holidays – doesn’t have to be hard or time-consuming. Make one smart switch at a time to get your holiday shopping done while preserving your sanity in the meantime.
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Alicia Hyatte is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Family Wellness Advocate, Health Educator, and a Diabetes Prevention Lifestyle Coach. She helps parents to build healthier habits and routines to better balance home and work life. Her website, WholeFamilyLiving.com, provides motivation and simple strategies for handling everyday challenges like managing stress, being active, eating healthier, losing weight, and more. Alicia is a beach lover and gardening geek in her spare time.