Creating a healthy shopping list can be a challenge, but that’s actually the easy part once you enter the tempting aisles of the supermarket and try to convince yourself that crisps are really just potatoes in disguise. And that ice cream contains dairy so it is a health food. With such aisle amnesia, it is easy to understand how you can return home with six boxes of cereals and no fruit, but a healthy shopping list is your first line of defence for a healthy diet and lifestyle. Now pull out a pen and some paper and follow these tips for remaining temptation free!
Know Your Food Groups
Nutritionists have done us a huge favour by outlining and publicising the recommended daily servings of common food groups. Before you begin to write your healthy shopping list, consider:
- Everyone should attempt to eat at least five servings of breads, cereals and potatoes per day.
- Five servings of fruits and vegetables are highly encouraged.
- Meat, fish or alternatives should be served twice per day.
- Keeping your bones strong with two servings of milk and dairy is important.
- Practice restraint and limit yourself to a small serving of fatty or sugary foods per day.
Plan Your Menus
Once you know WHAT you should be eating, consider HOW you would like to eat it. Sit down and plan a few menus for the week so that you know what ingredients will need to be on your list.
- Take into account your family’s favourite meals, ones that you know will be eaten.
- Aim to use fresh, seasonal ingredients.
- Attempt to make one dish per week (a roast, a lasagne, etc.) that will yield leftovers for the next night.
- Set a goal that once a week you will have a themed meal – Chinese, Mexican, or Seafood work well.
- Consider a few one dish meals as well (think Shepherd’s Pie) so that you don’t have to think of side dishes too.
- Take into account multiples. If you need rice for several meals, then make sure you write down “3 rice” so that you know the quantity to buy later.
Know Your Cupboards
Now that you have decided on your menus, take a quick look around your cupboards to see how many ingredients you may already have.
- Try to keep basics, like flour and sugar, well stocked.
- Run through your spice rack to make sure you have enough of the necessities.
- Take stock of your freezer, you may have things hidden in there that you have forgotten about!
- Have a quick peak at the expiry dates in your refrigerator. You may have yogurt, but will it still be edible several days from now?
Organize Your List
You are almost there! By now you know what you need to serve for a healthy diet, how you are going to prepare your meals, and what ingredient you already have. The final step is to organize the remaining ingredients into a comprehensive list that will let you sail through the supermarket.
- Organize by aisle. Visualise your supermarket and begin grouping together the foods you will find in each aisle.
- Organize by group. Keep all of your fruits, meats and dairies arranged together.
- Make sure you include quantities. If you need tinned tomatoes, it’s better to know how many grams/ounces you are looking for when faced with several different sizes.
- Start with the “dry foods” first and work your way to the chilled and frozen foods so that they won’t need to sit in your cart for long.
- Try to “shop the perimeter” of fresh foods before plunging into the aisles of packaged and prepared offerings.
- If you need foods that are not available in the supermarket, create a new list. It’s fine to have a list for the market, the green grocer, the health food store, etc.