Is grocery shopping just one more thing on your family’s list that just needs to be crossed off each week? We normally don’t spend much time actively searching out the healthier options when we grocery shop each week. And unfortunately oftentimes fall victim to the marketing signage, sales, and BOGOs rather than choosing the best food options. And when you’re shopping during the holidays, you may just want to “get in and get out.” Rushing through your grocery shopping without a plan can thwart your healthy eating goals. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Smart grocery shopping during the holidays is possible even among all the hustling, bustling, traveling and gift-giving.
Follow the 6 tips below to have a healthy strategy the next time you go to the store.
6 Tips for Smart 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 remain healthy through 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.
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