How-To: Healthy Grocery Shopping
A lot of people think healthy eating is expensive, or complicated, or time consuming, or [enter excuse here]. Maybe this is because it sometimes IS expensive to eat healthy at restaurants (why is a salad 12 bucks?!), or because there’s so much contradictory information on the internet that people have no idea where to even start. I’m here to tell you that eating healthy is straight up easy if you know how to do it and set yourself up for success when shopping for food. Better yet, it’s CHEAP. Below are some easy tactics to follow so that your weekly grocery shopping is working FOR your health and fitness goals, not against them.
Let’s get some of the clichés out of the way early. “Stick to the outside perimeter of the grocery store.” “Don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry.” “Don’t buy anything that doesn’t have an expiration date.”
I guess these are fine tips… but I’ve definitely seen a lot of cupcakes on the outside perimeter of Pick N’ Save. And I’m always hungry.
So actually I take that back, these are GREAT tips! Nah just kidding, they’re stupid.
Here’s what you really should do:
Plan Meals Ahead of Time
Every tip I’m going tell you later in this article 100% revolves around this. You need to go in with a plan. You need to have a shopping list that lays out exactly what you’re going to purchase, with very little room for last-second audibles. This means that my little “How-To: Healthy Grocery Shopping” guide is actually going to be a “How-To: Healthy Grocery Shopping List” guide, because once your list is written, you’re going to charge right into the grocery store and ONLY purchase what’s on your list.
How-To: Healthy Grocery Shopping List
We’re going to break up your shopping list into 4 sections. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks. That’s not rocket science. You’ll notice later that I didn’t add any drinks on here. That’s because if you’re trying to be healthy you should most likely just be drinking water (and of course coffee).
If you have a lot of time on your hands throughout the week and enjoy cooking, these lists can get pretty extensive because you will have up to 7 different recipes for each meal of the day. I personally don’t mind having essentially the same breakfasts and lunches every day, so for me those two sections are extremely easy and only dinners require some more creativity. You can get as fancy as you want as long as you adhere to these simple rules: For each of these sections, we are going to pick your proteins, healthy carbohydrates, and additional fruits and/or vegetables.
Like I said above, my breakfasts are extremely simple. I typically make one of these breakfast smoothies. Your job is to pick a protein source that you like for breakfast: My go-to’s are usually 0% fat cottage cheese, 0% fat Greek Yogurt, or egg whites. If you have time to cook, eggs are great. Just find something high in protein that has very minimal carbohydrates or and fats.
Next is a carbohydrate source. With stuff like cottage cheese and and greek yogurt, granola is great. If you are cooking eggs and like toast, my suggestion is Ezekiel Bread or another “sprouted” bread. Try to avoid cereals that are basically just processed sugar dyed different colors.
Finally, add in vegetables and/or fruits. This means you can have cottage cheese, granola, and some blueberries, toss that in 5 different containers and your breakfasts are ready for the week. If you want to get more fancy, you could have and egg omelette with green peppers, spinach, and onions with a slice of toasted Ezekiel Bread.
Once you know your proteins, carbs, and fruits/veggies, toss them on your shopping list.
Lunches are easy. You gotta get used to either eating leftovers from your healthy dinner the night before, or salads. If you keep it simple and have it already planned, you’re unlikely to derail and go through a fast food drive-through.
For your shopping list you’ll need to add whatever leafy greens you like in a salad (spinach, spring mix), then add a protein source (chicken, tuna, hard boiled eggs), then whatever additional veggies you like. Use a 0 calorie salad dressing, such as any Walden Farms product, and you’ve got yourself a healthy lunch.
This is going to be similar to breakfasts in the sense that we’re finding a good protein source, a healthy carb source, and adding veggies on the side. Lean meats are great protein sources and can be extremely versatile. Some carb sources that are healthy include quinoa, rice, whole grain pasta, sweet potatoes, more Ezekiel Bread…
We can use a little olive oil and a lot of spices to make vegetables for dinner way better. Zucchini, sweet potatoes, onions, and broccoli are all amazing broiled with a little olive oil and seasonings of your choice.
Snacks are the silent (progress) killers. They’re typically either pure sugar, or pure fat. The simple rule for snacks is that it either has to be a vegetable or a protein. I like either a straight up protein shake, or leftover cajun sweet potato chips from my dinner the night before. You can get creative but avoid chips/candy/the usuals. When in doubt, make a protein shake.
Put It All Together
Okay, now you’ve got your proteins for each meal, carbohydrates for each meal, fruits, veggies and snacks. Put them on your shopping list (all proteins together, all carbs together, etc). And march right into your favorite grocery store and buy them WITHOUT BUYING ANYTHING EXTRA. Don’t get distracted by the pastries or chips, don’t give in to the sly marketing of candy bars in the check out lanes. You know what you’re there for, you don’t need anything else. If you can order your groceries for pick up, do that! Even less temptation.
Okay, so here’s the deal. Do you want some more guidance? Do you want to know specific brands and quick recipes that I recommend? We have two options for you. First, you can pick up a 1 Week Healthy Grocery list HERE.
This is the easiest shopping list on the planet is and designed for people who don’t have time to make gourmet healthy meals. This is essentially exactly what I eat every week with a hectic schedule and limited time.
If you want to step your game up even further, to buckle down and make a huge lifestyle change, I recommend checking out The Dan Plan. We will tell you exactly what, how much, and when to eat based off of your goals. Feel free to send us a message or ask about our various plans for more info, we’d love to help you out.