Eating clean doesn’t mean you need to eat everything raw or plucked straight from the ground. You don’t even have grow it yourself or cook it all from scratch. And you can still eat Real Food by shopping at your local Supermarket.
Here are 10 Real Food Grocery Shopping tips to help you.
You just need to be a bit more selective with the food you eat and aim to choose minimally processed foods with only a few ingredients on the label, if it has a label at all.
When choosing what food to pop into your Shopping Basket, you need to ask yourself:
4 Questions to Ask Before Popping Food in Your Shopping Trolley:
- Where did this food or its ingredients come from?
- How much has it been processed or handled? And am I OK with that?
- What’s the Ingredient List? The ingredient label should be short, and all ingredients should be recognizable, whole foods. Does it contain nasty artificial ingredients, colourings or additives?
- Can you make this is your own kitchen or would you need a chemist degree to reproduce it at home?
How to Shop Clean:
Shopping for whole foods in most modern Supermarkets is surprisingly complicated. You are faced with aisle after endless aisle of packaged goods that you simply don’t need to buy anymore.
Walking past almost everything on the shelves takes a little getting used to.
But at the same time, it’s important to remember that even though it looks like food, you may just need to read some of the ingredients on the label to remind yourself that it’s not real food. I promise you that very soon grocery shopping gets easier and a lot faster!
10 Tips on How to Grocery Shop when Eating Clean
Never, Ever, Ever go shopping when you are hungry.
The smell of freshly baked bread and BBQ roast chickens as you walk into the grocery store will send you into sensory overload. People buy more when they are hungry and, unless you have willpower of steel, you will be inclined to stock up on ‘not so clean’ products.
Shop on the edges of the supermarket.
This is where the chilled, fresh and frozen foods are normally located. Whole foods are perishable, so often need to be refrigerated. It’s a good place to start.
Make a Shopping list
before you leave home. Take 5 minutes to plan your meals for the week and make up a shopping list before you go shopping. Check your pantry and see what you have inside and try and include these in your weekly meal plan.
Related Posts: How to Plan and Stock a Real Food Pantry
Buy in bulk and Save.
As you become more accustomed to eating Clean, you will notice that you tend to buy the same basic ingredients over and over again. Keep a Basic Price List (you can get my Free Price List template here) of the food or brands you buy regularly so that you recognize when they are on sale. Stock up when they are priced at their lowest.
For perishable items like fruit or vegetables, you will need to be prepared to store them correctly as soon as you get home to prevent wastage.
- For Fruit and Vegetables: Prepare and freeze
- For Flours, grains: Keep in air tight containers to prevent spoilage and pantry moth invasion.
- For Cans: Rotate them by stacking newly purchased cans behind the older ones.
- Dairy: Remember Milk and cheese can be frozen
Buy healthier versions of what you normally eat.
Swap White bread for organic rye. Swap low fat milk for organic, full fat milk. Swap white rice for brown rice. Making small changes in the way you shop and the type of food you are buying is an easy way to tweak your diet without feeling as if you are making a major overhaul. And it’s a great way to get your family used to Clean Eating one small step at a time.
Read the Label.
If you don’t recognize the ingredient on the list. Don’t buy it. Don’t be fooled by marketing tricks on packaging stating ‘made with real fruit’ or ‘made with organic wheat’. Check the label. This is a great article on How to read food labels. My Rule of thumb is this: If I can’t recognize the ingredient or reproduce it in my own home kitchen – then leave it on the shelf.
Keep it simple.
When did simple food get so complicated? You don’t need Agave nectar or [insert latest food fad here] to put a meal together. When stuck for a dinner idea, shop for the basics: Protein (meat, fish or eggs), complex carbohydrate (like potato or rice) and vegetables. Don’t get sucked in by the latest cooking show where ‘TV Moms’ are popping three course meals with exotic ingredients on the table. We are raising children. Not food critics.
Shop for Happy Meat.
Since you are no longer buying those extras, you will find that changing to clean eating won’t make too much of a difference to your budget. If you have a bit to splurge, aim to buy free range or, what we call, Happy Meat i.e. livestock that has lived a happy, free range & hormone free life. Aside from the obvious animal welfare issues, I think its important to support farmers who are taking the risk by choosing to raise their livestock in this way.
Buy local & in Season.
Choosing food that is locally produced and in season means that it’s fresh and hasn’t traveled a long way to get to you. Find out where your local market is and give it a go – and take the kids. Great prices, local and fresh produce. What’s not to love?
Buy organic if it’s on the Dirty Dozen List
Don’t let the fact that Fruit and Veggies aren’t organic stop you getting them. You can eliminate over 80% of pesticides and toxins simply by buying organic versions of the most pesticide ridden fruits and veggies. Check out the dirty dozen list here. If you can’t afford fresh organic produce, then browse through the frozen section instead. Frozen produce is generally more affordable and because it’s picked and frozen at the peak of freshness, it’s nutrients and quality are preserved.
Grocery Shopping with Kids
Doing any Grocery shopping with kids is a challenge. You know the story – stop in at the grocery store for milk and eggs and 15 minutes, two baskets and $110 later …..
Supermarkets are designed to make it hard for us to leave without buying ‘just one more’. It’s what marketers call an up-sell, a bit like the McDonald’s version of ‘Do you want chips with that?” It’s all about profit, Baby.
Children should be on a Grocery Store payroll. They are walking, talking, nagging sales staff that follow you around the store suggesting up-sell after up-sell.
When my children were smaller, no matter how much I prepared for it, most shopping trips ended with either one or all of us in tears (me included). I have been known to burst into tears in the parking lot more than once.
If you know that the dragging the kids along will make the process a lot harder, then get grandparents, hubby or friend to watch the kids or opt for home delivery. It makes the entire process easier and allows you to concentrate on the task at hand.
If all else fails, and they need to come along, try to distract them with little tasks like helping you find the product you are looking for. It’s a great opportunity to teach them about how to identify real foods.