3 Ways to be a Healthy Grocery Shopper

3 Ways to be a Healthy Grocery Shopper

When it comes to grocery shopping, there are so many choices. How do you know what’s the best to be a healthy grocery shopper?

Let’s face it, when you go to the grocery store, there are so many choices, so many options, so many different things to look at. It can be overwhelming. How do you know what to choose, and what are the best foods to buy? How can you be a healthy grocery shopper?

Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy answer. It varies based on the way you and your family like to cook, what they like to eat, and what food restrictions you may have. Without hiring someone to do all the shopping for you (wouldn’t that be nice?!), you have to learn what works for your family.

Over the last few years, we have really changed the way we think about food. After being gifted the book 100 Days of Real Food a few years ago, we have started to shift the types of foods and meals that we have in our house. Here are the top 3 things we have done to try to be the healthiest grocery shoppers we can.

Originally Published On: November 21, 2017

Last Updated On: April 23, 2020

Know Which Ingredients to Avoid

Before you even hit the grocery store, know what ingredients you want or need to avoid. If you have someone with celiac’s disease in your house, then it’s important to learn what foods are considered gluten that will cause a reaction. Same as if you are buying foods for someone who is lactose intolerant or has a nut allergy. Knowing the ingredients to avoid is the highest priority when dealing with allergies.

Sometimes, though, ingredients aren’t avoided because of medical necessity, such as an allergy, but more out of preference. For those who want to limit how much sugar they consume, know the different names that sugar can go by. If you follow a vegan diet, make sure to do your research ahead of time on what products are best.

For my family, we try to eat mostly real or whole foods as outlined in the 100 Days book I mentioned earlier. One of the main things I try to avoid is High Fructose Corn Syrup. So we look for options that don’t include it. At first, it wasn’t easy. It seems like HFCS is in almost everything, but as we have gotten better at making meals without processed foods, we have noticed it’s also easier to avoid.

Don’t forget to write your grocery list so you know what you are getting. Or if something you want/need to avoid is new, also write down a list of the items to avoid that you can reference.

Healthy Grocery Shoppers Read The Labels

And I don’t just mean checking how many calories are in something. If you want to shop healthy, you need to really take the time to compare your options. Yes, the first time or two you do this, it probably will take you a little longer at the store than usual, but once you start to figure out which brand you like, it will go quicker again.

One example: I had a hard time finding some blackberry jelly that doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup in it. For most of the ones on the shelf, that’s either the first ingredient (meaning a high amount) or one of the first few. If HFCS is one of the first three ingredients, it goes right back on the shelf for me.

Make sure to read the whole label. If you are avoiding high salted foods, look both at the sodium content on the nutrition facts label, and look through the ingredients list as well. We have learned over the last few years that it’s more useful to check the ingredients before the nutrition facts. For the most part, an item that has good ingredients is pretty well balanced on the nutrition amounts.

Shop The Edges

When in doubt, shop the edges of the store. Have you ever noticed that most grocery stores are laid out in a fairly similar way? When you enter, either to one side or the other is all of the fresh produce, fruit juices, the deli, and the bakery. Then along the back of the store and sometimes wrapping to the other side is the milk, cheese, eggs, and other dairy foods as well as the uncooked meats.

In other words, almost all of the unprocessed foods can be found without actually hitting most of the aisles. Try to get as much of your food from these edges, and you should generally be getting most of the healthier foods in the store.

Yes, I know eating fresh, healthy foods is a little more work when it comes to preparing dinner. But your health is worth it. The costs are sometimes higher. Though if you can do some of the cash-back grocery apps it greatly helps offset the cost. And besides, how can you put a monetary value on your family’s health?

26 thoughts on “3 Ways to be a Healthy Grocery Shopper”

  1. I’m going to keep this in mind! I’m always looking for ways to shop healthy, it’s easy to get sucked in by ur favorite unhealthy foods. One thing my husband and i have learned is to never, ever shop hungry!

  2. theclutterboxblog

    Oh gosh, I read so many labels. If I didn’t over half the stuff I would accidentally buy would be full of sugar. It’s one of my biggest frustrations.

  3. I didn’t know about shopping at the edges! thanks for that heads up! I always read the labels because I feel it’s important to know what’s going into our bodies!

  4. I didn’t realise but I do actually shop the edges. I’ve been working on having as much fresh food at home as possible for my family.

  5. Shop the edges is one of the best tricks I ever learned when shopping. Great tips and wisdom here for those who are overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin.

  6. I know for me it’s easier to be healthy once I look up ingredients beforehand in products I want. I also like making lists of meals I plan on making and the items I need to make the meals to make things easier. It also helps me to stay on track with being healthier.

  7. There is this app you can get for your phone that scans barcodes and lets you know how processed items are, and what their greater effect is on the world (if they have been shipped far, if their processing or packaging is damaging to the world, etc) and I find that super helpful.

  8. We have changed the way we shop too. It helps to go to stores that offer mostly healthy options as well. They have some great snacks that aren’t full of junk. We’ve come to enjoy quite a few of those. I’m going to try your tip about looking around the outsides of aisles for the best non-processed food choices.

  9. These are great tips, it’s so true that most of the better things for us are around the edges of the shop and it’s not something I’ve ever really paid attention to

  10. There is some really sound and sensible advice here for sure. I agree knowing what to avoid is just as important than what to buy x

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