Our grocery trolley holds immense power. Its contents will wind up in our kitchen, and then ultimately onto our plate; making our time at the supermarket highly influential in setting us up for the week ahead!
Navigating the supermarket can feel overwhelming at the best of times. With, quite literally, thousands of products at our fingertips - and many plastered with tempting marketing claims - it can be hard to know what to pop in the basket and what to leave.
However, with the simple strategies below, you can ditch the stress at the door and feel confident in your purchasing decisions. Today we’re chatting through our top tips for healthy grocery shopping! Starting with…
ALWAYS GO WITH A LIST
Shopping with a list will not only help prevent unnecessary items - hey 2-for-1 ice cream tub! - winding up in your trolley, but it will also help you stay organised so you purchase only what’s needed for the week ahead.
Spend a little bit of time before you hit the shops checking out your fridge/freezer/pantry, and doing a stock take for the week ahead. Write down any ingredients that you come across that could be used in a coming weeks meal - and then try and base some meals around them. Not only will the creative element of this help make you a more confident cook, but it will also help you reduce spending at the supermarket and minimise food waste! Once you’ve got an item of what you’re working with, prep a shopping list with the ingredients needed to fill in the gaps.
READ THE INGREDIENTS LIST, NOT JUST THE FRONT LABEL
Marketing claims on the front of food products can be very misleading. Just because an item states that it’s ‘refined sugar free’ doesn’t mean it’s free of sugar, or that it’s even healthy for us. To get to the heart of a product we must read the ingredients list - here we’ll get insight into what an item is actually made up of. Keep an eye out for ingredients lists that are as short as possible, as longer lists tend to typically suggest a heavily processed item. There’s a fabulous saying we like here at Feel Fresh Nutrition - ‘real food doesn’t have ingredients, real food is ingredients!’.
GO SEASONAL, GO LOCAL!
Seasonal produce is fruit and veg that has been grown locally, and is naturally available in surplus at the time of year of sale. It reflects local supply and demand, meaning it’s cheaper as there is plenty around. It also has a lower carbon footprint, not having to be transported from afar to get to us, and will therefore be fresher, and so also tastier! A win-win-win. Look out for labels that state “grown in NZ” to help guide what’s in season.
WELCOME FROZEN AND TINNED PRODUCE INTO THE MIX
Frozen fruit and veggies can be just as nutritious as fresh. Once harvested they’re snap-locked frozen quickly, retaining nutrients before they start to degrade. This makes them a fabulous budget-friendly option to keep in the freezer, for all times of the year - especially great to pull on when items aren’t in season.
They’re ideal as a base of stir-fries, chucked into soups/strews/curries, or a handful into a morning breakfast smoothie. Tinned produce is also fabulous, and a great time-saver - we recommend tinned legumes (chickpeas, lentils, beans…) on eve’s when you want a quick option to bump up the fibre and protein content of a meal!
SHOP THE PERIMETER OF THE SUPERMARKET
Many fresh and nutritious items - like fresh produce, fish, meats, bulk bins and chilled products - will line the outside of the supermarket; as this helps ensure freshness, storage and that an item can be appropriately prepped (e..g fishmonger). On the other side of the coin, items with super long shelf-lives will often sit in the middle of the supermarket, as they don’t need to be switched out as often! Aim to do the bulk of your shopping around the outside, and then dart into the middle aisles for extra items you may need e.g. tinned tomatoes/veggies/fruit, oils and vingears, bags of oats or baking goods.
This blog was written especially for our friends at Westpac NZ, who we’re excited to be assisting with their workplace wellbeing this year. It’s thrilling to see a company go the extra mile for their staff!