By Dana Boler
If you don’t want to eat it, don’t put it in your cart!
Healthy eating begins at the grocery store. It would be easy to avoid chips, cookies, and other packaged foods if they weren’t in your kitchen. Stock up your pantry, fridge, and freezer with better-for-you options so you don’t feel tempted to choose unhealthy items. Also, stick to the outside aisles as packaged foods are found in the middle of the store (typically). If you do want to indulge on occasion, say ice cream, purchase a single serving somewhere out of the house (Dairy Queen or Wired Rooster perhaps?). You’re less likely to eat it often and it feels more like a treat when you do.
Many times when grocery shopping, you’re likely to grab an impulse buy (unhealthy and expensive most of the time). Those impulse buys are usually conveniently located at the end caps and check-out lines. To avoid buying impulse items, you should never grocery shop hungry and stick to a pre-planned grocery list. Online ordering can also be very beneficial to those that struggle with unhealthy impulse buys. Online ordering can help you stick to a list and you never have to go into the grocery store. Many grocery stores now offer this service. It also helps you stay within budget.
When I go grocery shopping, I like to stick to many of the same items because it helps keep me on track with heathy eating and I know how to prepare/use them. It also makes grocery shopping less stressful.
Some better-for-you staples you can find on every one of my grocery lists are….
Fresh Fruit & Vegetables
I stock up on fresh produce, especially those on sale. It is fun to select a variety and different colors. Have you tried grilling vegetables? You can put them right on the grill or on a kabob stick. Drizzle vegetables with olive oil and salt beforehand, and grill for about 10-30 minutes depending on item. Zucchini, tomato, peppers, carrots, asparagus, onion, corn, sweet potato, potatoes, pineapple, and peaches all taste great grilled.
Almonds and Walnuts
These are a good on-the-go snack. Just 1 handful packs protein, fiber, and good fats to keep you full. They are a great heart-healthy snack option when portions are controlled.
Sprinkle on salads, oatmeal, and yogurt parfaits.
These are packed with many nutrients and good fat. I love adding them to salads, smoothies, egg scrambles, and sandwiches/wraps.
I purchase a very large green mix (romaine, spinach, etc). I use them for smoothies, egg scrambles, sandwiches or wraps, salads, etc. To keep fresh longer, put a piece of paper towel in the container.
Lean Meats & Fish
Chicken, turkey, pork, shrimp, and variety of fish are great to keep on hand for many different healthy recipes. Freeze for a longer shelf life. These are all great for grilling season.
Perfect for smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt parfaits, and eating plain. They last a long time and are typically less expensive than fresh fruit. Throw in your water for some flavor!
Great meal additions! There are many different vegetable blends. I always have stir fry vegetables on hand for a quick stir fry meal. Many now come in steamable bags for a quick side.
Skim or 1% String Cheese & Cottage Cheese
These are good snacks to have on hand that are filling. Pair string cheese with a handful of almonds or wrap with turkey for a quick snack. Sprinkle cottage cheese with some sunflower seeds or fresh fruit.
These are so versatile! I use these instead of bread or buns. I love making flat breads with them or wraps. You can also cut up, sprinkle with olive oil and sea salt and bake into tortilla chips!
Milk and Unsweetened Almond Milk
I use unsweetened almond milk for smoothies and oatmeal.
La Croix/Bubbly/Spindrift or other Sparkling Water
My go-to and guilt-free beverage that tastes delicious. I add mint, lemon, and lime as well.
Peanut butter is a great apple or celery topping for a quick snack.
Oatmeal is a good breakfast option, top with almonds and fruit, and add protein powder or Greek yogurt for some protein. Have you tried overnight oats? These are perfect if you want to make your breakfast the night before. ½ cup oats, ½ cup milk of choice, fruit of choice (frozen works great), optional-2 T. Greek yogurt, sprinkle of nuts, drizzle honey, and 1 teaspoon chia seeds. Put in a sealed container overnight-eat cold or warm up!
I like to have some of these on hand for a quick on-the-go snack. Make sure to look at added sugars (I try to keep below 6 grams of sugar).
Hard boiled, scrambled, omelets…so many options. Egg scrambles are one of my favorite breakfast meals- 2 eggs, deli turkey, spinach, and top with avocado. Hard boiled eggs are nice to have on hand for a quick snack option.
Great for adding to smoothies or making fresh fruit parfaits
Brown Rice & Whole Wheat Pasta
I use brown rice for rice bowls, stir frys, or just as a side.
I try to use whole wheat pasta instead of white pasta.
A favorite night time snack in our household. We love fresh air-popped popcorn.
Used for everything grilled and cooked! Spray and liquid form.
I typically purchase at least 70% dark cocoa to get the benefits of dark chocolate without the extra sugar.
I stick to organic BBQ Sauce, Ketchup, and Salad Dressings to limit unwanted ingredients such as High Fructose Corn Syrup.
A variety of kids healthier snack options
I try to keep a variety of healthier snack options for the kids such as granola bars, sunchips or whole grain tortilla chips, raisins, craisins, halo oranges, yogurt tubes, string cheese, trail mix, lower sugar cereal, unsweetened applesauce packs, and graham crackers. Of course, they need their fruit snacks too!
What is on your grocery list? I challenge you to add a couple new healthier options to your list next time!
I’d love to hear of any nutrition topics you’d like to learn more about to feature in future columns.
Dana Boler is a mom of two boys and a wife on a mission to help others become their best self. She is a Certified Health Coach with a Bachelor’s Degree in Dietetics. Her practice, B Your Best Wellness Coaching is personalized Health Coaching with mental health, physical activity, and nutrition in mind.