Grocery Shopping Essentials
Originally Published: Jan 02, 2019
Go grocery shopping with a plan!
Three of the most common resolutions each year are to eat better, lose weight, and save money. The number one way to achieve all of these goals is to go grocery shopping with a plan. No more wandering the aisles and throwing in whatever looks good at the moment; be strategic about your purchases and you will see a difference in your mind, body, and wallet. Download our list of grocery shopping essentials so you don’t forget a thing!
The produce section is a great place to start your grocery haul because you can get ingredients for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks all in one place! Dietitians recommend to “eat the rainbow” and consume a variety of fruits and vegetables for increased vitamins and nutrients. Maximize your spend by purchasing items you can enjoy in multiple ways. Here are some of our favorites:
- Blueberries: mix into oatmeal, yogurt, or smoothies for added color and nutrients.
- Bananas: a great pre- or post-workout snack, yummy in smoothies, and a great baking ingredient.
- Apples: eat with peanut butter, mix into oatmeal, or enjoy by itself.
- Lettuce: keep a head of lettuce on hand for easy lunches and quick dinners. Salad might sound boring, but use different veggies and mix it up to keep your tastebuds happy!
- Sweet potatoes: roast with brussel sprouts or make sweet potato and black bean quesadillas.
- Bell peppers: dip in hummus for an afternoon snack or make sheet pan fajitas.
- Tomatoes: great for salads, dip into hummus, or an afternoon snack.
Meat & Poultry
Meat is a high-quality source of protein, iron, and B vitamins. Be careful not to eat too much, though—the American Heart Association recommends eating red meat once a week and fatty fish twice a week. One serving of protein is equal to the size of a deck of cards; chicken and turkey are very lean protein sources.
- Chicken: this white meat is full of nutrients and versatile. Great to have on hand for salads and easy dinner dishes.
- Turkey: good source of protein, zinc, and B vitamins. Eat with potatoes, throw it in a salad, or enjoy a turkey sandwich.
- Salmon: one of the leading sources of omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients. It can be baked, grilled, smoked, or steamed. For a delicious dinner with little effort, serve baked salmon with roasted sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts.
- Beef: if you’re eating beef, keep it lean. Enjoy a hearty meatloaf, beef stroganoff, or spaghetti.
Dairy & More
Whether you eat dairy or are dairy-free, the refrigerated food aisles at the grocery store are important sources of calcium and protein.
- Low fat cheese stick: a great snack for the afternoon slump—not just for school lunches!
- Yogurt: easy breakfast on-the-go or a healthy snack to keep in the fridge at work. Mix in some nuts or granola for extra flavor and nutrients.
- Eggs: make an omelette for breakfast, enjoy egg salad at lunch, or use them to bake.
- Hummus: pair with vegetables, spread onto sandwiches, or eat with cheese and crackers for a light snack packed with protein.
The frozen section gets a bad reputation but it’s better than fast food when you’re in a time crunch! Frozen fruits and vegetables are equally as nutritious as fresh produce because they are picked at their peak time of ripeness—a great choice for a busy lifestyle.
- Frozen fruit: save time with pre-chopped frozen fruit for smoothies.
- Frozen vegetables: stock up on steamed veggies for dinner when you don’t have time to cook.
- Halo Top ice cream: curb your evening cravings with ice cream that is calorie-conscious and still flavorful.
A good rule of thumb is to keep the majority of your grocery shopping to the outskirts of the store—produce, meat, dairy—and only shop the aisles when necessary. Here are a few staples to have in your pantry:
- Oatmeal: is there anything better than a warm bowl of oatmeal on a winter morning? It’s quick, convenient, and you can add almost anything from your pantry for toppings.
- Granola bars: keep a stash of granola bars in your pantry, purse, or desk for a healthy snack on-the-go.
- Trail mix: buy it pre-made or make your own using nuts, berries, sunflower seeds, and more.
- Black beans: mix into salad or enjoy with quesadillas.
- Garbanzo beans: chickpeas are a great source of protein if you don’t eat much meat. Throw them in a salad, make your own hummus, or grind them into a flour substitute in baked goods!
- Rice: add sustenance to any meal with a rice dish. Save time with microwavable rice.
- Popcorn: if you’re an evening snacker, popcorn will fill you up without overdoing the calories.
We’re talking about mobile apps, not appetizers! ibotta is a smartphone app that helps you save money at popular retailers. Simply select which store you’re shopping at and a list of cash back offers will appear. Add them to your cart, take a picture of your receipt, and you’ll get cash back when you redeem. Once your account reaches $20 in cash back you can withdraw cash to PayPal or Venmo! It’s a great way to get money back for products you are actually purchasing.
A successful grocery shopping trip is the first key to success but it doesn’t stop there. Schedule a meal prep and planning session each week so you are prepared and don’t have to scramble for meals (no pun intended).