Eating healthy takes time, and it's worth that time! You'll set a great example for your children and your friends, and you'll have better control over the food that enters your body and thus your overall health. Also, eating healthy is actually more important even than exercise in order to reach your health goals, as you really cannot "out-train" a poor nutritional program.
Additionally, shopping for your groceries and preparing your own meals makes you leaner! How?! you'll spend more calories shopping in a grocery store than you would sitting in a restaurant; you'll spend more calories preparing your own meals than picking up the phone and ordering delivery.
So, without further adieu, CCSCers, it's time to talk about shopping for groceries!
The best plan is to set aside a few hours each week to both shop AND pre-prep your food. Pre-prepping means cooking up a bunch of protein and chopping veggies so they're ready to eat and/or cook at a moment's notice.
Why should you have a grocery-shopping and food-prepping plan?
1) you're less likely to eat/order out if you have a well-stocked kitchen AND some pre-prepped food.
2) you'll know exactly what's going into your meals which makes it easier to calculate how much you're eating.
How often should you shop?
Shopping one time per week is best in order to:
1) ensure that you have enough food on hand so that you're prepared to eat well and reach your health goals.
2) ensure that you don't purchase too much food at one time and then have it turn bad before you can use it.
Ugh, I have to go to a store once every seven days?!
1) purchase meats in bulk only twice a month (every two weeks); when you get home, break it up into individual or family-sized portions and either cook it or freeze it; that way, you can shop for fresh produce one time per week, which makes for a quick shopping trip.
2) purchase pre-chopped veggies; these tend to be more expensive but will save you time at home during your food prep.
Step 1: develop a grocery list
This helps your trip to the store stay quick and efficient.
What items should be on my list?
1) Most of what you purchase should be vegetables and proteins since both your "Anytime Plate" and your "Post-Workout Plate" is comprised mostly of veggies and protein. Depending upon how often your work out, the "Anytime Plate" should make up 80-90% of your weekly meals.
2) If you're a simple eater, most of your meals will simply be a meat prepared the way you like it, a vegetable or two prepared the way you like them with a bit of fat either used in the cooking process or added on the side.
When in doubt, make your shopping list based upon the SuperFoods listed below:
*Omega 3 eggs (same as above)
Health TIP: It is suggested that you take a fish oil supplement if you choose not to or cannot afford grassfed/wild/free-range meats, which have a better omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acid profile (more on these in upcoming blog posts)
*Spinach for super shakes/salads/juicing/steamed veggie dish
*Kale same as above
*Collard greens same as above
*Cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage which can be used to make bulk lunch or dinner salads like Jessie's broccoli/chicken salad (or you could switch out that broccoli for cabbage and make coleslaw which makes for a quick veggie option at lunch/dinner)
*Berries are lowest in sugars and should be priority
*Tomatoes for juicing or salads
Health TIP: fruit should be considered nature's candy, so eat it in moderation (maximum of 2 servings per day and even less for aggressive fat loss)
Health TIP: while, fresh, local produce is optimal for your body in terms of nutrients, frozen veggies and fruits are picked and frozen at the height of ripeness and are therefore just about as good for you as fresh produce. But, in both cases, be sure the packages contain ONLY that fruit or veggie and no added sugars, salts, sauces. For convenience purposes and healthy eating, frozen produce should be prioritized over canned produce.
*Avocado: salads/super shakes/guacamole
*Flax seeds: high in omega 3s and great in shakes or on salads
*Nuts/nut butters: be careful of amounts here as these contain a lot of calories per serving making them nutrient dense and easy to overeat in terms of calories
*Fish oil: high in omega 3s
*Water is best
If you're more of a recipe user, then the strategy below will help you make a grocery list.
Start by categorizing your meals then brainstorm the items you need for them:
Before shopping, plan your meals/recipes to make list:
A) Sunday bulk recipe: making a chili, stew, or a crockpot recipe is helpful to get you through the first half of the week--especially for packing up your lunches or if you have some busy evenings and won't have time to cook dinner. Even just cooking up a bunch of protein on the grill, the stove, or in the oven can really help your week's meal-planning run smoothly.
B) Wednesday bulk recipe: just like Sunday, cooking a bulk recipe mid-way through the week can get you through the rest of the week's lunches and/or dinners.
C) Super-shakes: if you utilize shakes as a meal option, be sure to list the items you need for them.
D) List of vegetables: for daily eating and juicing (if you juice).
E) Breakfast items: list the items are you most likely to eat for breakfast for purchase
How much food should I purchase? Remember your hand measurements:
A) protein: if you eat 4 meals a day and your a woman, that is about 4 oz of protein per meal, which is about 16 oz or 1 pound of meat per day; 32 oz or two pounds of meat per day for most men. Multiply those numbers by 7 days week. For one couple, that'd be 24 pounds of meat a week.
B) veggies: if you're eating a minimum of 1 (women) to 2 (men) cups of veggies per meal, then you'd need 4 (women) or 8 cups (men) daily. Multiply that by 7 days per week. For one couple, that'd be 84 cups of veggies per week, minimum.
C) carbs/fats: calculate the same as above using your hand measurements and taking into consideration how much your work out (for weekly carb amounts)
Step 2: AT THE STORE
1) Shopping pathway: you've probably heard many times that when grocery shopping for health, you want to stay on the perimeter of the store. This way, you'll hit the produce aisle, the bulk foods aisle (nuts/seeds/whole grains), the meat/seafood section, and the eggs/dairy section. BONUS: if you have to shop with your children, these aisles tend to not have brightly-colored packaged food items that attract children to beg you to buy unhealthy foods.
2) The aisles: once you've shopped your perimeter, you can go into the aisles for certain food items such as canned tomatoes/veggies, frozen veggies/fruits, spices, oils, and whole grain bread (if you eat bread). In the aisles, don't be fooled by clever marketing tactics such as the following:
*No sugar added
*Contains real fruit
Stick to your list and stay away from cardboard boxes and plastic containers.
3) Reading labels: Reading labels on a package usually is a red flag. Eighty to ninety percent of the food you purchase should not have a label because the foods that are best for you do not have labels. If you do purchase a food with a label:
A) Ask yourself: is this good for me? If you find yourself saying, "it's not THAT bad, then it's probably bad." Don't buy it because you'll eat it.
B) Look for the BIG 3 "No-No's":
C) Fewer ingredients is better: ideally, packaged foods that you may purchase will have fewer than 5 total ingredients on a label (EX: almond butter should read: almonds, or almonds and salt)
*purchase the generic brands of items, if available
*purchase meats in bulk; buy a whole grassfed, pasture-raised cow and split the cost among 2-4 families, which makes purchasing quality beef much more affordable
*purchase what's on sale: meat/produce/frozen and canned veggies and fruits
*shop online for possibly hard to find items like coconut oil
*support your local farmers by purchasing items at farmer's markets or through a CSA (community-supported agricultural) farm
Happy Shopping! - Amber