For some of us, thoughts based around food and eating can be grueling whether it’s deciding what to eat or figuring out how to conquer the grocery store in a timely manner without caving and buying a ton of junk food or spending way more than is necessary.
With a little planning and preparation, all of this stress can be eliminated and you will look forward to buying fresh food and cooking your own meals.
Part 1: At Home
Make a grocery list!
Pay attention to what’s in season and build a menu based on that. Try and keep your recipes somewhat coordinated to cut down on costs. For example, base your meals around avocados one week (Think Chilled Avocado Soup, Grilled Corn Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette, Toast with Avocado, Sliced Tomatoes and Sea Salt) and you are less likely to be caught off-guard by the checkout price. You will also be much less likely to see food spoil. What a waste! Also, when planning recipes, be sure to keep your schedule in mind. If you know you have a particularly busy week coming up, don’t try to go all out with your recipes – accommodate as needed!
EAT BEFORE YOU GO!
Grocery shopping on an empty stomach is one of the biggest mistakes people make. When you’re hungry, just about anything looks good and your level of self-control level will be way down, which may cause you to buy those Twinkies or carton of ice cream that you may have avoided had you gone on a full stomach.
Part 2: At the Store
Exercise Self Control
There are many tempting aisles and products at the grocery store. However, if you exercise a bit of self-control, you will save yourself big time in the long run. If you don’t buy it now, you won’t have it at home and you’ll be much less likely to make a special trip to the store for that sudden chocolate craving you got while watching The Bachelor. Darn it ABC!
Scan the Perimeters
It is undoubtedly true that the healthiest foods surround the outer peripheries. These are the foods that need to be kept fresh; the foods that were once growing in the ground; the foods that will spoil in time. Look for wild foods, a variety of colors, freshness, and don’t be afraid to try a new fruit or vegetable you’ve never heard of.
Check the Ingredients
Of course, fresh produce is not the only thing that will be on your list. For other items, be sure to consult the nutrition labels. The ingredients are listed in the order of their volume so if high fructose corn syrup is one of the first few ingredients on the box, say NAY. In general, anything that has more than four or five ingredients is not going to be good for you. And as some say, if a third grader could not pronounce what is on there, just walk away.
Listen to Michael Pollan
Here are some golden rules for everything else (Borrowed from Michael Pollan’s Food Rules): The whiter the bread, the sooner you’ll be dead; Avoid foods you see advertised on television; Generally avoid items labeled, Lite, Low Fat, or Nonfat (Marketing tricks); If your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize it as a food, you probably shouldn’t be eating it.
Part 3: Appreciate and Enjoy!
Eating most of your meals at home not only saves money but is often healthier because YOU are in control of what goes into your recipes. All it takes is a little planning and preparation and you will whittle that middle in no time. We live in an area where fresh and healthy food is extremely accessible and relatively cheap and there is absolutely no reason not to take advantage of that. Go on and find some recipes you enjoy, hit up the farmer’s market when you can, and ENJOY your food. It is one of the simplest and greatest luxuries of life, you know!