19 Jun Grocery Shopping Tips
Does grocery shopping overwhelm you? We’ve got a few ideas that might help ease the burden on your next shopping trip.
Let’s start with lists. There are a few ways you can make a list, not every way is the right way, so see what works best for you.
First things first:
First figure out what you want to eat for the next few days. So let’s say you’d like to do something like this:
- possible breakfast ideas: Big Bowl or oatmeal with fruit.
- possible lunch ideas: A hummus wrap with vegetables, black beans and rice extravaganza, chili, sandwiches, hummus with pita and vegetables, big salad.
- possible dinner ideas: shepherds pie, lasagna, lentil soup, meatloaf
- possible dessert ideas: blueberry dumpster cobbler
Or, you could use our meal plans:
The next step is to go through your kitchen. You would be surprised how many times we go out and get a bunch of groceries, come home, start putting things away and realize we had a lot of ingredients on hand. Or, in some cases, we realize we could have substituted an ingredient or 2 in order to make a dish.
Now it is time to make a list! There are lots of ways to make a grocery list. Recently, an E2er who participated in the 28 day challenge in Tampa, FL sent us her clever way of making a list, we really liked it and thought we’d share it with you:
Circle what you need list:
This way you can have a visual of every thing that you could need and then circle all of the things that you need to buy.
Four-square list: Cathy from Straight Up Food gave us this idea:
Take a sheet of paper, fold it four ways (so there are four squares). Next come up with 4 categories, Cathy uses: fruit, vegetables, bulk and other. Fill in the sections with the groceries you need.
Aisle by aisle list:
If you shop at the same store and know it pretty well, write a shopping list based on the aisles of the store. If you really want to get fancy, next time you are at the store write down the aisles or take pictures with your phone. When you make a list you can go up and down the aisle in your head and pick out the things you need.
So for instance:
- Produce aisle:
- Aisle 1: Pasta/grains/tomato sauce:
- Aisle 2: Beans, Canned Vegetables:
- Aisle 3: Cookies/Candy: this should be blank, unless they have made some kale cookies we do not know about.
- Aisle 4: Cereal
- Aisle 5: Frozen
- Aisle 6: Bread
Keep going down the aisles noting what you need.
I have no time for a list, list:
There are really only 4 things you need to know about what you put in your shopping cart:
1. Is it a vegetable? Look closely at the food in front of you, does it look like a vegetable? Did they throw in non vegetable things to it (like oil/salt)? If it is a vegetable, put it in your cart!
Just so we are clear, this is NOT a vegetable, no matter what the government says:
2. Is it a fruit? Look at the food in front of you, does it look like a fruit? Did they mash it up, dry it up, add sugar and make it a fruit roll up? *note, this, is NOT a fruit:
3. Is it a bean? This one can get tricky. There are some decent canned beans and some that are loaded with sodium. You want to get the canned beans with out any added salt or that say “low sodium”. Better yet, get whole beans, and you won’t have to worry either way.
Again, so we are clear, even though these technically have a bean in them, they should not go in your grocery cart:
4. Is it a whole grain? The easiest way to figure this out is to stick to things like brown rice and quinoa, that way there is no question. However for products like pasta/bread you want to make sure that the word “whole” is in front of the grain. You also want to be sure that they did not add any junk like sugar/oil/salt.
Just for the visual, these are NOT whole grains:
5. Does it meet the label reading rules? We could probably do a whole series on label reading, but instead we are going to make it really simple. Here is how to read a label:
- Check for animal ingredients. No? Procede.
- Check the fat. The fat should be around 20% or less. How do you check the fat? Determine how many calories per serving. Let’s say it is 100, next see the calories from fat, if the calories from fat is less than 20% you are in good shape, in this example, the calories from fat should be less than 20.
- Check the sodium. Sodium is 1mg to 1 calorie. So if something has 100 calories, it should have no more than 100mg of sodium.
- Check for sugar. If it says high fructose anything – put it back. Any other kind of sweetener should be one of the last things listed (like the 3rd/4th item on the ingredients list).
Avoid these pitfalls!
- Just because it says “vegan” does not mean it is healthy.
- Just because it says “organic” does not mean it is healthy.
- Don’t buy ‘treats’. There are plenty of wonderfully satisfying foods to eat when you are plant-strong! If you start bargaining with treats, it can be a dangerous road to travel down.
We thought this was really telling, this is a warning label for ‘organic’ cigarrettes, we think that the same should be said for a lot of food that is labeled organic:
*sorry the picture is so small, this is what the text says:
“Organic tabacco does NOT mean a safer cigarette.”
“No additives in our tabacco does NOT mean a safer cigarette.”
Most of all, have a plan! Whatever your strategy is for shopping, be sure to have a plan before you go into the store. Make a list, or just know the plant-strong guidelines and become a shopping rock-star!
We’d love to hear from you. What is your shopping strategy? What would you tell someone just starting out on their plant-strong journey.