Podcast Image Healthy Budget Friendly Grocery Tips

November 9, 2021 by Megan Dahlman

Healthy & Budget-Friendly Grocery Shopping Tips

Megan Dahlman Strong Mommas Podcast

  1. If you’re trying to revamp the way you eat to help you get healthier, leaner and fitter, then your grocery shopping habits better reflect this. 

As a quick review of how you can make healthier eating choices, you should be:

  1. Eating purposefully and regularly throughout the day to include 3-5 meals.
  2. Eating slowly and stopping before you're full.
  3. Eating protein dense food with every meal.
  4. Eating vegetables, and sometimes fruit, with every meal.
  5. Eating good, whole grains when your body best tolerates them.
  6. Eating healthy fats throughout the day.

If you’re planning to follow these healthy habits of eating, you need to make sure you develop some healthy shopping habits, too. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to know you need to eat more vegetables, but you return from the store with just a measly bag of carrots. Here are a bunch of practical tips to learn how to grocery shop well...

Here are some of the best tips for healthy, budget-friendly grocery shopping.

Some of these you might be doing already, while others could be a big aha moment for you: 

Shop Frequently: When you eat healthier, your food will not last as long. A raw pepper will go bad long before that box of Wheat Thins. I know this is annoying, but what’s even worse is throwing out produce that you bought last week, and literally throwing your money in the garbage. 

    1. One approach is to do one big shopping trip once per week, planning to eat the most perishable foods first. 
    2. For example, plan a meal that includes fish and tomatoes earlier in the week than a meal with a frozen chicken breast and peppers. Generally produce with a harder surface will last a little longer. 
    3. Another option is to do a large shopping trip once every two weeks and include some frozen proteins like chicken breast, beef and shrimp, and then restock just my produce about one week later.

 

Plan your meals and your grocery list. Don’t walk into the store without a clear plan, because this is how you end up buying ingredients that you end up not using. Try to put EVERYTHING you’re going to buy on your list, rather than just the main things and find yourself browsing the aisles.

    1. You should leave the store with everything on your list and nothing more (put down that granola bar you saw in the checkout stand because you were so starving!).

 

Shop the perimeter. Once you’re at the grocery store, stick to the edge of the store. This is where you’ll find fruits and vegetables, lean meats and other proteins, dairy, and often your whole grains.

    1. When you venture into the aisles, you’ll be tempted to buy things that have lower quality and are processed. You don’t need these foods. 
    2. Some exceptions to this rule are some canned goods like beans, tomatoes and olives, oils and vinegars, and some whole grain products. 
    3. When you’re done shopping, your cart should be about half full of fresh produce, then fresh proteins like meats, poultry and fish, some dairy like yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs, and finally some miscellaneous items like whole grains, canned beans or other bulk foods. (The more packaging/processing, the more you’re going to pay for it.)

Buy from the bulk foods section. Know where to locate certain superfoods and nontraditional items. Most stores these days have bulk bins of raw grains, beans, seeds and even nut butters that you can grind yourself. Become familiar with this section. 

    1. Purchasing these types of healthy foods from the bulk bins is typically far cheaper than getting them prepackaged. 
    2. Also, make sure you also know where to locate healthy oils, like walnut oil, olive oil, flaxseed oil and fish oil.

Don't feel pressured to buy organic. Many moms equate “healthy” with organic, and feel really bad if they can’t afford it...or they suck it up and just have a really expensive grocery bill. 

    1. Organic foods are typically way more expensive than conventionally grown foods, and they are not healthier or safer for you. 
      1. Carcinogens in coffee vs. 1 year of conventionally grown produce
    2. All produce in the grocery store has been grown with pesticides to make sure they don’t contain fungus, bugs and worms
      1. Often, because conventionally grown produce can use products that are more targeted, they are sprayed far less than organically grown produce. 
    3. If you’re concerned about anything, just wash your produce, but keep in mind that even our conventionally grown produce is far safer and healthier today than foods have ever been in the history of mankind and are constantly being tested for safety, so I really don’t want this to be something you worry about when you’re grocery shopping.  

Food labels. Learn how to read a food label. 

    1. As a general rule of thumb, you shouldn’t have very many things in your cart with labels. The freshest and most nutritious foods won’t be in a package with a label on it. 
    2. Always check the label if it has one. Look at the nutrition facts and the ingredient list, making sure to avoid foods with any trans fat, and opt for the one with more grams of protein and fewer grams of sugars and less sodium. 
    3. Generally if something is flavored (like strawberry yogurt vs. plain yogurt), it’s going to be more expensive and less healthy
    4. Don’t get too worried about the calories. If you’re choosing nutritious foods, the calories won’t be very high anyway. 

 

I remember when I went grocery shopping for the last Strong Mommas Retreat. I knew that our meals and snacks were going to be full of lots of Protein and Produce and I cruised through the food section of Costco, loading up my cart with everything we would need for the weekend. 

My cart was half full of proteins (like eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, beef, chicken) and then half full of produce (like bagged salads, veggies to snack on, berries, bananas, a full rainbow of produce), and only a little bit of food from the packaged aisles… like grain-free granola, peanut butter, mixed nuts. 

It was such a healthy haul, and surprisingly not that expensive at all, considering the amount of food that I was buying. 

So my challenge to you is this: 

  1. Strategize your next grocery trip and walk into the store with a clear grocery list
  2. Shop mainly the perimeter of the store, avoiding processed or pre-packaged foods, and not worrying about whether or not it’s organic
  3. Buy from the bulk food bins when you can and double check the nutrition labels for protein, sugar, and sodium content
  4. And then rinse and repeat

 

I'd love to hear from you!

What’s your favorite grocery shopping tip that helps you eat healthier and saves you money in the process? I want to know what it is. Shoot me an email at megan@vigeofit.com or send me a DM on Instagram. Strong_mommas

 

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