- Frozen vegetables are great choices. Nearly as good as fresh and they are picked at their peak so their nutrients are locked in. They also store longer than fresh so keep several bags in your freezer. A few favorites include: spinach, broccoli and peas. They also sell medleys. Read the ingredient list and opt for bags that contain simply vegetables. Steam them up in just minutes in a collapsible steam basket. Add your own sauce or spices if you want extra flavor.
- Frozen fruits are excellent as well, for the same reason as the veggies. Use them in smoothies, desserts or partly thaw them out for a refreshing snack. I love half-frozen cherries!
- Sprouted grain breads– you can find several brands like Ezekiel bread in the freezer. Like the name says, they are made from sprouted grains rather than flour– and the sprouting makes them more nutritionally valuable. They make great toast and I love their cinnamon raisin english muffins.
- Frozen burritos– make a quick meal when you need something fast. Zap one in the microwave, top with salsa and guacamole and add a salad or steamed veggie and you’ve got dinner in a flash. EVOL burritos use whole grains in their tortillas and the ingredients are better than most. I also like the Amy’s brand. All are high in sodium but can still fit into a healthy meal plan if you don’t eat a lot of other high-sodium foods. Ex. Try not to pair up your burrito with a can of salty soup.
- Veggie burgers– the healthiest I have seen are the Sunshine Burgers made mainly from brown rice, sunflower seeds and vegetables. Limit burgers made with soy protein isolate but occasionally they can be a tasty treat.
- Look for 100% whole wheat bread. Don’t be fooled by “multi-grain” or “made with whole wheat”. Consider using more whole grains in their unmilled state like brown rice, oats, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, etc–and cut down on bread/flour consumption.
- Whole wheat wraps– most of these have some added oil; it’s hard to find them without– but it’s a small amount so don’t worry too much about it. I’ve tried to love the sprouted wraps but they unfortunately always fall apart way too easily.
- Sprouted breads– they aren’t always in the freezer. I’ve seen Alvarado Street bread in the bakery section. It’s delicious!
- Consider all those cookies, muffins, cupcakes and other baked goods tempting you to be off-limits, aside from a very occasional treat. They are basically a blend of the 3 major evils: white flour, white sugar and refined oils. Cheap, low-quality ingredients that contribute to disease. Why buy that when there are so many whole-food, nutrient-rich recipes that you can make? And when you make desserts from healthy ingredients like fruit, whole grains and nuts–not only are they better for you but they taste much better too!
Hopefully the grocery store doesn’t seem as scary anymore. You are perfectly capable of relying on yourself to answer “Is ________ healthy?” If it’s a food in it’s natural, whole state then it should easily fit into your diet. If it’s packaged all you have to do is look at the ingredient list to find out what is in it. It’s that easy. Trust yourself and listen to your intuition. Why should you believe what someone else has to say about what is good or bad to eat? How could they possibly know more about what is good for you than you? If you know the basics and can read, you can determine if a food is something that you want to eat.
Be conscious of what you buy at the store, but don’t over-complicate things either. There is no one food that is going to kill you just as there is no one food that will give you eternal health. It comes down to your overall intake. Fill your cart with mostly plants from produce. Choose some whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Get yourself some meat and seafood if you like– if you care about animals and the earth go for the more humanely raised/caught options.
And just a few more tips:
- Shop from a list. Keep paper and a pen in your kitchen and as you run out of items jot them down.
- Avoid shopping when hungry.
- Don’t be tempted to buy something just because it’s on sale or it’s cheap.
- Consider store brand items which are usually less expensive than name brands.
- Take the time to read ingredient lists!
I hoped this helped to demystify your grocery shopping experience and possibly even make it become an enjoyable activity. Do you feel confident going into the store knowing that you can make good choices for yourself?