I get a lot of questions about the grocery store. Everything from how to prepare a weekly grocery list to maneuvering the grocery store to then preparing the items that you've now bought from the store. It can be a little overwhelming! I personally LOVE the grocery and could spend hours just hanging out going up and down the aisles haha But I thought I would try to break it down based off how I approach preparing for the grocery store and then once I'm there how I make it effective and affordable. I will say, most weeks I go to two different stores to get everything that I need. Mainly because I have different brands that I like and they aren't available everywhere. But I definitely don't think that is necessary for everyone nor do I think that's needed to be healthy.
The regular grocery stores for me are Trader Joes, Sprouts Farmers Market, Central Market and Whole Foods. I like to break these up depending on 1) what I need for the week 2) prices for the items that I am going for. I like to go to Trader Joe's mainly for all of their veggie options. That is what I find myself buying the most of. I think they have GREAT deals on bagged lettuce, pre cut veggies and just overall some great varieties in options like butternut squash fries, stir fry veggies and great seasonal options. I also think Trader Joe's is the best option for most affordable, but this is when I usually have to go to another store because they don't carry a lot of my usual favorites. I try to focus on more organic produce here and always check the ingredients in some of the other items they sell. I love Sprouts Farmers Market when I want to purchase more fruit for the week. I know that sounds weird, you go to the store just because of the fruit, BUT I've found they have the best options while also being the freshest. I've had some bad fruit purchases at TJ's. But Sprouts also has a lot of great sales on all brands with a lot more variety than TJ's and almost similar to what Whole Foods would have. I know Central Market isn't everywhere but for my Texas peeps, this is my go-to spot for good meat or fish. It's so fresh & this store literally has everything from great fruit/veggie selection to fun items. I always end up walking away with WAY more than I need when I go here though, so I try to limit this trip. Whole Foods is the one that I talk about when I could literally hang in the aisles haha but I usually never do a full grocery haul here. They do have some great sales at times, but with what I buy, I find Trader Joe's or Sprouts to be better options. I try to keep Whole Foods to my "fun" items like kombucha, granola, or an occasional pop in for the brown box lunch every now and then :)
So now that I've laid out how I choose my grocery store, the preparation is another part. To be honest, some weeks I go in completely unprepared and usually regret it at the end of the trip but life happens. But when I don't do that, I try to break it down by choosing two proteins and like 3-4 veggies for the week. Oh and always sweet potatoes. I'm also only feeding for myself, so those that are feeding for more, you will want to adjust accordingly. I buy a lot of fresh fruit and veggies but I always end up going through them without letting anything go bad! Remember that you can always freeze some of your fruit & greens for smoothies. Best options for freezing and keeping your items as fresh as possible is using the Pyrex storage containers & stasher bags.
Depending on what is easier for you, you can plan out actual meals or you can choose a few things that you can then alternate which makes it a little different each time. When planning out actual meals, I like doing ones that I can then have leftovers for the next day or two. I'm sure you can tell that I like fixing bowls for lunch. This is my favorite way to switch it up, get in a good amount of protein, fat & fiber & they keep me feeling satisfied! A few staples for these are grains (quinoa, faro, rice), veggies (I usually always pick up bell peppers, cucumber, tomatoes and chop them up so they are ready for the week), sweet potatoes (roast these by either cutting into fries or dicing), and mixed greens (my favorite to use are organic mixed greens). Some of my favorite items for prep are included in my recipes on my website: chicken salad, oatmeal raisin energy bites, and turkey meatballs.
The best thing to do before going to the store is make a LIST! I break mine up by fruit, veggies, dairy, meat, etc. That way you can see everything and it's all usually around the same spot so you aren't running back and forth throughout the grocery because you forgot something lol Preparing items at the beginning of the week has been a lifesaver for me during some of my busiest times. Even if its just chopping up veggies or fruit, it's that little thing that will end of saving time when you go to prepare a meal! On weeks where you may have more time, you can split it up into two small preps. So maybe making a batch of stuff on Sunday and then again on Wednesday!
Some of the best ways to save money at the grocery store is to buy your nuts, seeds, dates in the bulk section from your store. That way you can buy the amount that you actually need and it's so much cheaper than buying individual bags of everything. I do this a lot when I buy ingredients to make my energy bites! You also want to consider items that you're purchasing that can be used for multiple items. For example, you have rolled oats on your list and you will use those to make a couple batches of overnight oats for the week and then energy bites. That way your using it more ways than one. Or I'm going to buy chicken to use some to make as chicken salad and some as crockpot chicken. The same thing but two different items out of it so you aren't eating the same thing every day. Another thing to consider is that you'll usually have to purchase things like quinoa, spices, olive oil once every month or so depending on how much you use! I usually have to refill on that stuff once a month so I expect it to be a little more expensive when I do.
After receiving a few questions on some staples at my place, I made a little list with my pantry and fridge staples. These are things that I use weekly & like to always have around! Mainly because having these items means you can whip up something really quick even if you just have a few things on hand. You can get the list here!
Grocery shopping and preparing items can seem a little overwhelming but trust me, it doesn't have to be! As long as you're spending a little bit of time each week to get yourself prepared, then you'll be fine. As part of my health coaching, I would be happy to work with you through a guided tour of a grocery store on how to shop and find the items that will help you feel your BEST. If this is something you may be interested in, feel free to contact me and we can chat more about it!