I’ve thoroughly come to enjoy grocery shopping. I used to loathe it, but with all of the fresh produce here in LA and my newfound love of cooking, I have really come to love it! Today I wanted to share how I navigate the grocery store, how I decide what to get, and a few rules I live by. Honestly, I know grocery shopping can seem overwhelming for some. There are so many options and so many labels jumping out at you. “Buy me! I am healthy! I’m gluten free! I’m low in calories!” It can really be quite confusing – like what is actually healthy?! So here are my tips for grocery shopping and everything to look out for/steer clear of!
I buy as many fruits + veggies at my locals farmer’s market as possible before going to the grocery store
This allows me to eat fresh, seasonal produce and get the maximum amount of nutrients and flavor from my fruits + veggies. Farmer’s market produce tastes 20 million times better because it’s truly fresh. Most of the farmers pick the produce that morning or a few days prior to selling it . Have you ever bitten into a farmer’s market peach and then a peach from the grocery store? The difference is HUGE. Did you know that some produce at grocery stores such as apples, could be a year old? Yep – that’s right – do a little research and see for yourself.
wild caught fish
I was getting a salad with delicious salmon on it from one of my favorite restaurants here in LA for lunch a few times a week, but felt sick and inflamed every time I ate it. I couldn’t figure out why – the salad was so healthy with minimal ingredients, but then I asked them if their fish was wild caught and they said no it was farm raised. Farm raised fish is bad for you – I don’t care how someone spins it and says they were humanely raised or raised in a “nice farm environment” – whatever – the facts are the facts; farm raised fish is full of toxins. Most restaurants serve farm raised fish because it’s cheaper, so when I eat out, I only eat fish at restaurants that say it’s wild caught, otherwise I order something else. Yes wild caught fish is significantly more expensive, BUT you cannot put a price on your health. I often buy fish at my local farmer’s market and I’ve heard Costco has great wild caught fish!
organic produce and meat
I don’t eat red meat, so I only buy organic chicken which has fewer/to no antibiotics and hormones, and then organic fruits + veggies have fewer pesticides.
I don’t buy a ton of pre-packaged, processed stuff
Because most of it really is crap! I don’t care how healthy it says it is on the box, how few calories it says, how gluten free it is – whatever – if it’s in a box, it’s been processed which instantly diminishes the nutritional value and is probably loaded with chemicals that will make me bloated. If something is in a box that I need/want like crackers or pasta – I always read the ingredients. If something has more than 5 ingredients I usually won’t buy it and if there are any ingredients/chemicals like guar gum or carragenean which are known gut irritants I stay far away from it. You will find fillers like this in “healthy” yogurts, almond milks, gluten free baked goods, etc too so BEWARE. As consumers, we must be more savvy because the food industry is soooo sneaky! You can check out my favorite snacks with under 5 ingredients here!
I steer clear of gluten free baked goods
They seem so tempting and healthy, but honestly, most of them are not healthier than a regular ol’ baked good and often make my stomach hurt more than just eating the real deal! So don’t let these fool you and always look at the ingredients. Common gut irritants like brown rice syrup and gums/filllers are often in them. If you really want a croissant, I say, just eat the real thing every once in a while!!!! And go to a delicious, high quality, authentic bakery to get one – and savor it!
I don’t buy pre-made lunch/dinner items from the deli counter
Why? Have you ever looked at the ingredients in any of the side dishes that are in the case at somewhere like the Whole Foods deli counter?! Here’s what’s in something a simple like their mac and cheese: Pasta (durum wheat semolina, niacin, iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), Alfredo Sauce (milk, water, cream, romano cheese [pasteurized cow’s milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes, powdered cellulose (anit-caking)], parmesan cheese [pasteurized part-skim milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes], modified cornstarch, enriched flour [wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid], garlic, butter [cream, salt], cultured dextrose, salt, parmesan cheese flavor [parmesan cheese (pasteurized milk, cultures, salt, enzymes), water, salt, disodium phosphate], spice, citric acid), Whole Milk, Cheddar Cheese (cultured pasteurized milk, salt, microbial enzymes, annatto [for color]), Monterey Jack Cheese (cultured pasteurized milk, salt, microbial enzymes), Panko Bread Crumbs (unbleached wheat flour, natural cane sugar, yeast, sea salt), Cream (heavy cream, carrageenan, mono & diglycerides, polysorbate 80), Parmesan Cheese (pasteurized part skim cow’s milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes, powdered cellulose added [to prevent caking]), Salt.
WOAH all of that crap – just for simple mac and cheese? NO THANKS!!!! Beware of “simple” seemingly harmless meat and fish sides too – most grocery stores or delis cook with canola or sunflower oil because it’s cheaper than olive oil, but canola and sunflower oil are not good for you. I get that not everyone has the time, money, or desire to cook – but seriously, buy an Instant Pot and you’ll have a full blown, delicious meal – minus all of these crazy ingredients – in 15 minutes or less.
Basil – for my easy 2 minute homemade pesto
Pine nuts – for my easy 2 minute homemade pesto
Olive oil – high quality – check your labels/research the brand they’re not all the same
Pink sea salt
Yellow popcorn kernels
Maple syrup or coconut nectar (my two sweeteners of choice)
Gluten free soy sauce
Sweet potatoes (not yams)
Romaine lettuce (if I don’t eat it as a salad, it can go in my juicer so it’s never wasted!)
Organic chicken breast
Wild caught salmon
White basmati rice
Chicken broth (make sure to check the ingredients and make sure it doesn’t have sneaky cane sugar in there!)
Jicama, rice paper wraps, or corn tortillas
Asparagus (dip them in little mayo mixed with soy sauce – sounds gross, but trust me it’s a delish aioli)
Broccoli sprouts (one of the most nutritious, anti cancer things you can eat)
Coconut butter cups
When I’m on my period I eat a ton of butternut squash.
I make butternut squash mac and cheese with this yummy 1 ingredient gluten free rice pasta (which btw is not this expensive at my local market Erewhon!) If you are wondering why – it’s called cycle syncing and I think every woman should read Flo Living. Other than that, I just rotate what I make for lunch and dinner with the items listed above.
I’ll have things like chicken noodle soup with kelp noodles from my Instant Pot, or zucchini noodles with pesto and salmon, teriyaki flavored salmon bowls with white rice and veggies, or chicken tacos. For breakfast I always have a green juice with broccoli, fennel, celery, cucumber and green apple (sometimes I throw in sprouts or parsley.) If I’m hungry an hour later, I’ll have a sweet potato with coconut oil and pink sea salt. For snacks I have any of these options.
I really try to listen to my body and if I am craving a particular thing that week I get it. If I want a glutenous loaf of bread I eat it. If I want a huge chocolate chip cookie I eat it and truly enjoy it. I just make sure anything I eat is made of REAL, whole ingredients! What food items do you love picking up at the grocery store?!