Shopping: The Roots of Clean Eating
Throughout my clean eating journey, I’ve found that the roots lie in grocery shopping. If you shop unclean, you’ll eat unclean. Likewise, if you buy healthy food, that’s what you’ll eat. It sounds simple, but it can still be difficult at times. As a result, I’ve compiled a few savvy shopping tips to help keep you on track.
1. Where to shop
There are three main categories of places to get food. The first and best option is your very own backyard–if you have a garden that is. If at all possible, producing your own food is a cheap, fun way to get local, organic food.
If a garden isn’t a plausible option, farmer’s markets are just as great. Although they can be a little pricey at times, they support local agriculture and fresh, organic food is at your fingertips. If you happen to be near Madison Wisconsin, the Dane County Farmer’s Market is amazing! Tons of local farmers come and line the Capitol Square with fresh, healthy food–much of it being organic.
Of course the most mainstream way to grocery shop is the traditional grocery store. My top recommendation is Trader Joe’s if there’s one in your area. Trader Joe’s is where I find most of my staples such as Greek yogurt, hummus, feta cheese, roasted plantains, dark chocolate, and fresh produce. Not only is there a vast array of clean foods to choose from, but they come at reasonable prices. If Trader Joe’s isn’t an option, don’t worry–clean food can be found at any grocery store!
2. Shop the perimeter
Regardless of where you buy your food, most grocery stores are laid out about the same. On the outside are fresh produce, meat, and dairy while the inside aisles house the sugary cereals, salty snacks, and instant “potatoes”. My recommendation is to stay in the perimeter and only enter the aisles for necessities such as baking supplies, quinoa, brown rice, whole grain bread etc. By staying on the outside, you’ll be more likely to fill your cart with fruits and veggies, lean meat, and fresh dairy rather than be tempted with junk food.
3. Take a basket
Studies have shown that the bigger the cart, the more one will put in it. If possible, stick with a small cart or even a basket if it’s a short shopping trip. Having less space to put food will help you stick with your list and only buy what you truly need.
4. Don’t shop hungry
I know–it sounds cliche, but regardless, it’s so true! In middle school and high school, I worked at my town’s grocery store for nearly four years. I cannot even tell you the number of times people blamed their $300 order of “food” on being hungry. They all “came in for only a few things” and several hundred dollars later they were at my checkout lane. Moral of the story is to have a quick snack before shopping and follow a list.
5. Read the ingredients
Growing up with food allergies, I’ve always had to read the ingredients on everything I eat. Allergies or not though, it’s a good idea for everyone to be informed about what they eat. Try to stick with foods with no more than 10-15 ingredients if possible–the less the better. Also be wary about ingredients you’ve never heard of or can’t pronounce.
Hopefully these five quick tips help you in your clean eating journey. Feel free to comment below with your own suggestions and check back periodically for new ideas. Happy shopping!