What is in my Grocery Cart- Kroger Haul!
Grocery Shopping 101
Good nutrition starts with smart choices in the grocery store, but who has time to read all the food labels or the time to decide which items are healthy & which aren’t? Grocery shopping can be a daunting task, simply because there are so many choices & the marketing tactics of food company’s can be very misleading.
Hopefully with these tips & tricks & a tour around the grocery store, making healthier choices will come a little easier for you!
Get a game plan & go with a list.
The quote “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” holds true even for grocery shopping! The process starts even before you head to the grocery store. Before you head to the store, plan your meals for the week & create your shopping list. It takes a few minutes, but saves tons of time in running back to the store for missing ingredients & even cuts down on the time you’ll spend while you’re at the store, especially if you divide your list up by where you can find each item.
To save money, use coupons, check the weekly grocery ads, and incorporate sale foods into your meal planning.
Stick with only the foods that are on your grocery list and NEVER go to the grocery hungry! Trust me, I’m speaking from experience. You’ll walk out with a half-eaten bag of oreos & a guilty conscience.
P.S. IF you’re lucky enough to live near a place that offers pick-up or delivery...I find that ordering my groceries online for pick-up or delivery saves me even MORE time & money because it cuts way down on unnecessary spending & impulse buys.
Shop the perimeter of the grocery store.
This is where fresh foods like fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat, and fish are usually located. Avoid the center aisles where junk foods lurk. Choose a rainbow of colorful fruits and vegetables. The colors reflect the different vitamin, mineral, and phytonutrient content of each fruit or vegetable.
P.S. Even though I didn’t spend a lot of time in my grocery haul showing you around the fruits & veggies section, that is where you should spend the most time. It is the first area you encounter in most grocery stores and usually the largest.
Read the Ingredients, Not Just the Nutrition Label.
“Nothing is more important than the ingredients that you put into your body.” —
This is where marketing tactics can lead you astray. Ignore the front of the package and rely mainly on the nutrition label and ingredients lists. If you're looking to bump up fiber or protein intake, or avoid added sugar, the nutrition facts panel can be a one-stop shop for all nutrients and can simplify the process of comparing products.
Better yet, Buy Foods That Don’t Have a Nutrition Facts Label.
They’re usually whole foods that are what they are & don’t need a label, like an orange, an egg, an apple, etc.
Choose "real" foods AKA WHOLE FOODS with as little processing and as few additives as possible. Remember the saying, “If it has a mother or comes from the ground, it’s fair game”.
The Fewer Ingredients, The Better.
Avoiding foods that contain more than five ingredients, artificial ingredients, or ingredients you can't pronounce.
If you apply that general concept to grocery shopping, you’re automatically starting at a healthier place due to overall elimination of the added sugars, fats, and preservatives—and focusing on the most wholesome version of the food.
Frozen Fruits & Veggies are okay.
Frozen vegetables can be just as nutritious as fresh vegetables since it can often take days between when the vegetables are harvested and when they end up on your plate. On the other hand, what you find in the freezer is frozen immediately, which helps lock in the nutrients. Frozen fruits and vegetables (without sauce) are a convenient way to help fill in the produce gap, especially in winter.
Canned and Dried Foods.
Keep a variety of canned vegetables, fruits, and beans on hand to toss into soups, salads, pasta, or rice dishes. Whenever possible, choose vegetables without added salt, and fruit packed in juice. Tuna packed in water, nut butters, olive and avocado oils, and assorted vinegars should be in every healthy pantry.
When to buy organic.
My best tip, and the one I use for myself always, is to buy produce according to the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists.
Buying all organic isn't realistic for most people, but you can easily and affordably minimize pesticide exposure when you buy according to those lists.
If possible & practical, try to buy organic meats. Conventional meat contains hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides. The pesticides found in cows, chicken, turkey and other animals comes from their feed which is grown using synthetic fertilizers and herbicides. The negative impact that the hormones, antibiotics and additives can have on your body make organic meat worth the extra money.
Eat more Fish.
The American Heart Association recommends two servings of fish a week. Salmon is a great choice because most people like it, it's widely available, affordable, not too fishy, and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Avoid foods labeled “Fat Free”.
Low-fat foods may seem healthy, but they're often loaded with sugar and other unhealthy ingredients. These can lead to excessive hunger, weight gain and disease. For optimal health, it's best to consume unprocessed, whole foods.
Avoid foods labeled “Sugar Free”.
When a packaged food is labeled as “Sugar Free,” that oftentimes means the real sugar has been left behind and replaced with an artificial sweetener. This is yet another reason why it is so important to always read ingredient labels. Did you know that artificial sweeteners were literally invented in a lab by food scientists and that some of those sweeteners only entered our food system as recently as a few decades ago? “Accumulating evidence suggests that frequent consumers of these [artificial] sugar substitutes may also be at increased risk of excessive weight gain, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.”
Artificial sweeteners come under a variety of different types and brand names, which makes them one of the many confusing aspects of packaged foods.
If you suspect that a product may contain artificial sweeteners, look for these generic chemical names which are most often used on the ingredient labels: aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, acesulfame K or acesulfame potassium, & neotame.
Look High & Low on the shelf .
This is where you will find the least expensive items in their category and often the most nutritious. Brands pay higher slotting fees to be placed at eye level, and those costs are generally passed on to consumers.
Before you pull into the checkout line, pull over and do a final cart check. Make sure your cart has visually 50 percent fruits and veggies, 25 percent lean and plant proteins, 25 percent whole grains -- and don't forget to double check there are enough healthy fats, like avocado, nuts, seeds, nut butters and healthy oils.
You are only as healthy as your last trip to the grocery store!
And finally, what you’ve all been waiting for….my Kroger Haul!
Check out the video below to walk through Kroger with me for even more insight on what products to buy & what to avoid!