No matter how often you go, most consumers can agree that supermarket shopping can be an overwhelming experience. As Zeel Nutrition Expert Marina de la Torre explains, “A routine can make all the difference. If you want to get in and out of the grocery store in as little time as possible – pushing a cart loaded with nutrients and short on calories – here is a basic game-plan:”
1. Choose a smaller cart. We know it was on sale, but did you really need four boxes of Cheerios and five jars of peanut butter? Opting to peruse the aisles with a small cart in tow won’t just limit your spending; it’ll also limit unnecessary snacking. The smaller cart will signal when you’ve likely bought enough, at which point you can check out and be on your merry way.
2. Stick to the perimeter of the store. With a few exceptions, the best, most wholesome foods can generally be found on the outer edges of the grocery store—think fruits, dairies and more. Processed, less-ideal items are often found stuffed between the aisles.
3. Start with produce, buy local. If possible, try to pick up your produce at your town or city’s farmers’ market to avoid this section of the supermarket altogether while supporting local commerce. If that’s not an option, start your shopping trip in the produce section and focus on colors and deals. Remember, the more colors in your basket, the greater variety of essential nutrients you’ll be able to put in your body. As a general rule of thumb, try to fill at least half of your basket with fruits and veggies.
4. Make a beeline for the good stuff. Strategically plan your visits around sections that supply the essentials. Plot out where to find whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa and millet, and raw nuts, seeds, nut butters and all-natural jams. If you prefer the labels on all-natural salsa, bean dip or hummus, put on your blinders and head straight for these shelves.
5. Bread from the bakery, not the shelves. Bread should be purchased from your market’s bakery (which is also located on the store’s perimeter). Make sure it’s a genuine whole-grain loaf.
6. Mind your meats. For optimal health, look for free-range poultry and eggs and lean cuts of grass-fed beef. Stay far away from processed and cured meats such as bacon, sausage and ham.
7. Consider dairy alternatives. Lots of people find that skipping dairy products altogether leads to amazing improvements in their health. If you think this alternative is right for you, then there are plenty of substitutes to choose from. Unsweetened almond milk is great if you tolerate nuts; others prefer coconut or soy milk. If you do opt for dairy products, try to get whole food versions and even raw milk-based products where available, with as few additives as possible.
8. Frozen food is your friend! Stock up on vegetables and fruits in the frozen food aisle for times when you might be short on ingredients. Frozen fruits and vegetables can be just as healthy as the fresh variety. You can also look for live sprouted grain breads such as Ezekiel and Food for Life.