Grocery shopping can feel like a scavenger hunt when seeking out good quality food, avoiding toxic ingredients and trying to get the best value for money. Menu-planning and list-making are great tools if you have the time, but this is not the only way to shop effectively.
Here are five smart strategies to find the best, most nutritious food in your supermarket quickly and confidently. We will also look at some additional strategies for getting in touch with local food sources, and what you can safely buy online.
1. Don’t fall for labels
Just because something is labelled “gluten-free,” “organic” or “natural” does not mean it’s nutritious or good value. Actually, things that come in packages are often not worth eating anyway.
Another one to look out for is the word “enriched.” This tricks us into believing the food is nutritious because it has vitamins and minerals added. However, the body often can’t identify or absorb these isolated, artificially-added nutrients.
Stick with foods that “look like what they are.” Imagine seeing through the eyes of your great-great-great-great grandmother. If she wouldn’t recognize it as food (think Doritos, jelly beans or Fluff), don’t put it in your mouth. This leaves the good stuff, like meat, fish, eggs, butter, nuts and vegetables.
2. Avoid wasting money on convenience portions
Buying packaged snacks like granola bars and yogurt is cute and easy, but most of these foods are really sugar in disguise. They are also ridiculously overpriced if you consider how much nutrition you’re getting vs. the cost of each individual unit.
Generally prepared foods are just a trap for people who are poorly nourished, tired and hungry. Either that or they are designed to tempt children with attractive colors and images. These over-marketed under-nutritious foods are best avoided. Stick with quick and easy real-food snacks that are easy to transport, so you don’t get stuck starving and judgement-impaired. Here are some healthy alternatives:
- Veggie sticks with hummus (check the ingredients and choose a simple one, or make your own)
- Rolled up slices of ham with a boiled egg
- Raw nuts with coconut flakes and dark chocolate chips
3. Check out the frozen section
Sometimes good-quality foods that are not as popular are hidden in the frozen section. These are some items that are commonly found in the frozen section:
- Wild-caught fish and shellfish
- Frozen organic berries
- Organ meats, such as beef or chicken liver
4. Look beyond the supermarket
Try smaller stores in your area, which might have a smaller-scale local supply chain that is overlooked by large supermarkets.
You can also save a ton of money by purchasing local pastured meat in bulk. Try FarmMatch.com or EatWild.com, which are great tools to get in touch with farmers and community food organizations in your area. Clear some freezer space and enjoy healthy meat for less.
Depending on where you’re located, you may be able to find good quality foods online. Vital Choice, Thrive Market, and US Wellness Meats are excellent health community-approved sources.
5. Stick with clean produce
Fruits are a lot more likely to be shipped in from far away and are more often exposed to pesticides and herbicides. Fruit is also commonly treated with ripening and preservative chemicals during shipping.
Focusing on vegetables means you’re less likely to get chemical exposure. Look for local vegetables, which are more likely to be fresh and nourishing, plus they are cheaper.
Berries, leafy greens, apples, tomatoes and peppers are the items which are most important to purchase organic. Keep a list of “clean” and “dirty” produce on a piece of paper in your wallet or stored in your smartphone, so you can do a quick check without getting overwhelmed while shopping.
Hopefully, these tips will help you shop more confidently and save some money, while providing the best nourishment for your family too.
-The Alternative Daily