Saturday, April 20, 2019

Healthy Grocery Food Shopping (Tips & Lists)

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Healthy food shopping is where healthy eating begins. Make every effort to become a savvy shopper because your success in eating well depends absolutely on this.

If you don’t buy junk, you won’t eat junk!

Learn to Buy Healthy Foods & Stock Up!

If you buy well, your larder, freezer and fridge will always be well stocked-up and you will never be stuck for anything you need to cook a healthy meal.

It is amazing how much easier cooking becomes when you always have the non-perishables and freezables in stock. Then, each week, you just have to top them up and shop for your fresh produce.

Putting in a little effort into getting the right stock will make meal preparation a lot easier. Something that seems difficult at first can be possible and even easy, with a bit of planning. Setting up a routine that works for you will soon pay off, because then you don’t have to think about shopping anymore. It can almost be done on auto-pilot!

Prepared Foods?

Few people nowadays have the time to cook every single thing from scratch. If we did, we would literally have to start with grinding our own flour. So, to a greater or lesser degree, we all need to supplement our cooking with bought, prepared foods. I use pasta sauces from a jar, ready-made frozen pastry, tinned chickpeas and lentils and bread I have not made myself!

In a perfect world, this would not be necessary. But the reality is, that few of us can make everything from scratch all the time. The next best thing therefore, is to be careful about what we buy. It is crucial, when using a ready-made substitute, to choose the healthiest version of the product, with the most natural ingredients and the least harmful methods of processing.

And, no matter what, always include lots of fresh fruit and vegetables in your family’s diet—these should never be eliminated because there is no substitute for the goodness they provide.

Shopping at Health Food Stores

Health food stores are great places nowadays and have evolved wonderfully since they first began to appear on our high streets. Today’s health food stores are no longer the sole territory of those with alternative diets, but are where you will find the most delicious, healthiest versions, of many everyday items that you might normally source in a supermarket.

Organic eggs, vegetables, stock cubes, cocoa, pasta sauces, nut butters and even delicious, high-quality chocolate, can all be found in health food stores. They may cost more than the lower-quality versions in supermarkets, but you get what you pay for. Most health food brands do not use GM ingredients, preservatives, harmful food additives, or hydrogenated oils, and many use all organic ingredients.

In my view, paying for a healthier version, made with pure, natural ingredients, is better value than a cheaper, lower-quality version. So, look at the value, as well as the price! And remember Oscar Wilde’s aphorism that “a cynic is someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing”.

Shopping at Farmers’ Markets

Farmers’ markets are also good options, although not all markets are of the same quality and you need to be discerning about which ones you frequent. Some farmer’s markets are stalled by distributors, rather than producers and some organic farmers fly in organic produce from abroad, which is not good.

In my view, if the food you buy at the farmer’s market has not been picked locally, the day before, there isn’t much point in paying over the odds for it. Go back to first principles always and take heed from food campaigner, Alice Waters. When she goes looking for fresh produce, she always has two questions for the stall-holder:

—Where was it grown?

—When was it picked?

You may think it a lot of trouble having to go to smaller stores and markets, tracking down healthy-eating products. But if you work out a routine, it may not turn out to be any more difficult than what you already do.

When I became a busy working-mother, I no longer had time to go to markets and specialty shops, as well as the supermarket. After a few difficult months, I reorganized my routine, so that I didn’t have to compromise on the quality of the food I was buying.

Now my routine changes according to my work patterns, but I have found that there is a solution that always works, if I plan it out properly. It can comprise of some, or all of the following: organic vegetable box delivery/online order from my local family-owned mini-market/one round-trip stopping off at supermarket, health food store and farmers’ market/ artisan goods from local village shops when it suits me to stop.

Quick Food Shopping Checklist:

Here is a quick check list for buying food. If you follow these general guidelines when buying food, your food shopping will be healthy shopping.

Always buy the best quality foods you can, as you get what you pay for and they are better value in the long run. My healthy buying tips can be summed up in one sentence: As much as possible, buy pure, fresh and unadulterated! In general, apply the following rules:

Unhealthy Foods to Avoid

  • tinned /processed food
  • white bread
  • non-organic produce
  • food containing sugar-artificial sweeteners
  • additive-laden food
  • farmed fish
  • genetically-modified food
  • radiated food
  • products with added salt/sodium

Healthy Foods to Buy

  • Fresh foods
  • Wholemeal bread
  • Organic produce
  • Sugar-free food
  • Additive-free foods
  • Wild fish
  • GM-Free foods
  • Non-radiated foods
  • Salt-free (sodium-free)

A Healthy Grocery List Makes Shopping Easy!

Please feel welcome to print off my Healthy Grocery List on this page, if you would find it helpful when stocking up your larder for the first time, or when doing your weekly food-shopping. These are my ‘mainframe lists’ that I refer to when doing up weekly shopping lists. They contain my complete inventory for my basic regular food stock and jog my memory if there is anything I need to replenish on a weekly basis.

I have tried to be reasonably comprehensive, so you won’t need everything on the list, and there will be things you like to eat that are not included. Chop it and change it, use it to jog your memory, or inspire your own ideas.

Use it as a basis for setting up a healthy larder and developing good, planned shopping habits. When you shop healthy, you can eat healthy and having everything to hand saves you time and hassle. Happy shopping!

Healthy Grocery List: Fresh Produce

  • Seasonal vegetables
  • Seasonal Fruits
  • Potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Avocado
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Oranges
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Fresh mini-baguettes
  • Sliced bread
  • Brown bread scones
  • Wholemeal croissants
  • Bagels
  • Brown bread

Healthy Grocery List: Fridge

  • Milk, buttermilk
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Cream
  • Cheese/soft and hard
  • Cooked deli meats
  • Fresh orange juice
  • Hummus
  • Tofu
  • Meat, deli meat
  • Fish

Healthy Grocery List: Freezer

  • Frozen sweetcorn kernels
  • Frozen peas
  • Chopped fresh ginger
  • Specialty breads, rolls, baguettes, foccacia, brown bread scones
  • Filleted chopped fish
  • Filleted chopped meat
  • Smoked salmon
  • Smoked mackerel
  • Fresh salmon, tuna and swordfish steaks
  • Sirloin steak
  • Leg of lamb
  • Butcher bought round steak minced
  • TVP (vegetarian mince)
  • Ready-made puff and shortcrust pastry
  • Home-made puff and shortcrust pastry
  • Ready-made whole-wheat pizza base
  • Homemade pizza base
  • Frozen soft fruits /blueberries etc
  • Home cooked casseroles, pies, pizzas
  • Home cooked cakes, muffins, breads
  • Home-prepared nut burgers and hamburgers
  • Bagels

Healthy Grocery List: Larder (Tinned)

  • Tinned chopped tomatoes
  • Tinned chickpeas
  • Tinned lentils
  • Tinned cannelini beans
  • Tinned flagellot beans
  • Tinned haricot beans
  • Tinned kidney beans
  • Tinned coconut milk
  • Tinned bamboo shoots
  • Tinned water chestnuts
  • Tinned bean salad
  • Tinned tuna
  • Tinned wild salmon
  • Tinned pineapple

Healthy Grocery List: Grains & Pulses

  • Muesli
  • Cereals
  • Rice (short grain, basmati, arborio)
  • Wheat noodles
  • Bulgar wheat
  • Pearl barley
  • Couscous
  • Spaghetti
  • Pasta Shells
  • Pasta Spirals
  • Multicolored Pasta Ribbons
  • Wheat Noodles
  • Rice Noodles
  • Pulses
  • Lentils ( red, green, puy)
  • Yellow Split Peas
  • Green Split Peas
  • Soup Mix (pulses and barley)

Healthy Grocery List: Herbs & Spices

  • Pouring sea salt
  • Sea salt crystals
  • Marigold vegetable stock powder
  • Atlantic sea salt crystals

DRIED HERBS

  • Italian seasoning
  • Herbs de Provence
  • Mixed Herbs
  • Parsley
  • Chives
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Bay leaf
  • Marjoram
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Dill
  • Tarragon

SPICES

  • Coarse ground black pepper
  • Chilli powder
  • Chilli flakes
  • Cumin
  • Coriander
  • Ginger
  • Allspice
  • Cinnamon
  • Cajun seasoning
  • Jamaican seasoning
  • Curry powder
  • Cardamon seeds

Healthy Grocery List: Sweet Things

  • Halva
  • 70% cocoa dark chocolate
  • Nut and honey bars
  • Honey Waffles
  • Biscuits

Healthy Grocery List: Teas & Drinks

  • Organic apple/pear concentrate
  • CocoaLow Sodium Mineral Water
  • Fairtrade organic coffee
  • Fairtrade organic tea
  • Organic white tea
  • Aveda comfort tea
  • Camomile tea

Healthy Grocery List: Condiments & Sauces

  • Tomato puree
  • Soy sauce: dark and light
  • Chutneys
  • Capers
  • Pickled gherkin
  • Sachets of mustard, ketchup, dressings etc.
  • Harrissa sauce
  • Light tahini
  • Pesto
  • Tabasco
  • Bar-B-Q sauce
  • Worscester sauce
  • Passata
  • Pasta sauce
  • Mustard/Dijon, wholegrain
  • Vinegar: white wine, red wine, balsamic

Healthy Grocery List: Baking

  • Self-raising flour
  • Wholemeal flour
  • Plain flour
  • Buckwheat flour
  • Raw cane sugar
  • Icing sugar
  • Baking powder
  • Vanilla extract
  • Coffee extract

Healthy Grocery List: Breads & Wraps

  • Taco Shells
  • Corn and flour tortillas
  • Tortilla chips
  • Naan
  • Chapati
  • Pitta Pockets
  • Pizza Base
  • Paninni
  • Unbleached artisan baguettes

Healthy Grocery List: Healthy Snacks

  • Gillian McKeith real food bars
  • Dr Karg’s seeded crackers
  • Oatcakes
  • Crackers
  • Breadsticks
  • Sesame sticks
  • Pretzels
  • Bombay Mix

Healthy Grocery List: Spreads

  • Molasses
  • Peanut butter
  • Chocolate spread
  • Apple puree
  • Almond butter
  • Maple syrup
  • Honey
  • Jam

Healthy Grocery List: Dried Fruit, Nuts & Seeds

  • Dried fruits
  • Desiccated coconut
  • Almond flakes
  • Whole almonds
  • Pecans
  • Walnuts
  • Cashews
  • Roasted and raw pistachios
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Linseed
  • Flax seed
  • Dried fruit mix
  • Yogurt Raisins

Healthy Grocery List: Oils

  • Olive oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Canola Oil
  • Sesame Oil
  • Udo’s Oil

Healthy Grocery List: Dried Mixes

  • Falaffel mix
  • Sosmix (vegetarians)

Healthy Grocery List: Misc

  • Olives (black and green)
  • Capers
  • Sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
  • Miso Paste
  • Dried seaweed salad

Healthy Grocery Shopping Tips

Follow my healthy food shopping tips below to become a savvy food shopper. Healthy shopping is where healthy eating begins!

General Healthy Food Shopping Tips List

  • Buy organic.
  • As far as possible, avoid E-numbers, especially the most harmful ones.
  • Completely avoid G.M. foods. These are marked ‘G.M.’, or ‘genetically modified’ on the packaging.
  • Avoid hydrogenated vegetable oil, mono-sodium glutamate, E numbers and other artificial additives, sweeteners and preservatives. Avoid over-salted, sugary, fatty, over-processed foods. They are bad for your health and even worse for your children’s health. If your children eat this type of food all the time, it is doing about ten times more damage to them, than it is to you, due to their smaller physiques and developing biology! Unfortunately, most processed foods fall into this category. If there is something they really like, try getting a healthy version of it in a health food store.
  • ‘Buy local’ is an environmental mantra, but it also makes sense from a health point of view. Fruit and vegetables begin to loose their vitamins (vitality) as soon as they are picked. The less distance they have to travel to you the better. If you can buy direct from a local farmer, that is the best option. You will also be eating seasonal vegetables, which are what our bodies naturally crave.
  • When buying olive oil, get extra-virgin cold-pressed. Otherwise, you could be buying oil that has been chemically removed from the olive. If you like to use spray oils, then buy your own, air-pump spray and fill it up with regular oil (try a garden shop for the pump). Otherwise, you will be eating the chemical propellant used in most commercial spray-oils. Or use a pastry brush to coat your food lightly with oil.
  • When choosing fruit, choose the tastiest. Many mass-produced varieties today are bland and boring and it is not surprising children do not like them. Do try to get freshly-picked, organic fruit. If you have a garden you could consider growing some of your own fruit. If you do, the most delicious varieties to grow are the more unusual ones which are not being mass-produced for supermarkets. Your children will get a great kick out of saving that variety for future generations and will also enjoy the wonderful, vibrant taste of fruit and vegetables as they used to be long ago. If you wish to send away for such seeds, to help preserve the biodiversity of our food chain, use a seed saving charity, which can supply seeds of unusual and endangered species of fruits and vegetables.
  • If you can’t buy fresh, buy frozen. It’s better than tinned. Sometimes, however, no matter how dedicated you may be to healthy food shopping, you may have to resort to tinned. (I sometimes use tinned chickpeas and beans, for example, as soaking and cooking them myself does take an inordinate amount of time and pre-planning.) When buying tinned, try to get organic, and choose a brand that does not line the inside of the tin with white plastic coating. For unusual tinned items, try your local deli for nice things to brighten up panini, such as artichoke hearts and jalapeno peppers.
  • If you are buying mincemeat, source it carefully. With meat, you generally get what you pay for. Pay cheap, get cheap! Mincemeat dishes, such as hamburgers, should not be thought of as a cheap meal. A good burger cannot be cheap. If you are going to make hamburgers, expect to pay well for quality meat. Ready-minced beef, sold in supermarkets and even in butcher shops, contains a lot of fat and low-quality cuts. So, for healthy food shopping, it is essential that you find a good, reputable butcher, who sells local, traceable and preferably organic meat. Pick out from the display a nice piece of round steak (or sirloin if you prefer). Ask your butcher to cut off the fat, if there is a lot, but not all of it (a little fat to cook the meat in is fine and it adds flavor). Then get your butcher to mince your chosen cut, which he should do where you can see what’s happening. Make sure he clears any meat already in the machine from the nozzle. This is the only way to get top-quality healthy meat for delicious mincemeat dishes your children will love.
  • Avoid processed meats, as they contain many additives, injected water and often products from animals, other than the meat you are supposed to be eating. Pastramis and bolognas etc. can contain huge amounts of fat, salt, cholesterol, sodium nitrates and MSG. Buy your cooked meats from a high-quality owner-run deli, where you can ask about the source and make-up of the meats. But even then, my rule of thumb is ‘the simpler the product the better’. Buy meats where there is no opportunity for anyone to add in stuff that shouldn’t be there. What I call ‘put together’ meats, are a lot dodgier than plain ones, because it is so difficult to find out what they are really made of. Alternatively, make your own cooked meat and slice and freeze batches of roast beef, chicken, turkey and boiled ham.
  • Always buy wild fish, because farmed fish is flabby, has less flavor and is not as nice to eat. Farmed fish also contains chemicals and artificial coloring’s. It is also bad for our eco-system, as the chemicals used in the fish farms put wild fish at risk. Always buy your fish in a good fishmonger, never in a supermarket where it is never fresh. Fresh fish should not have a fishy smell. It comes from the sea and should only smell of the sea when you buy it. When buying fish, always ask your fish-monger where it came from and when it was caught. A good fish-monger will be happy to answer your questions and like my local fishmonger, will tell you a great way to cook it. The North Atlantic is very polluted, because it has been used as a dumping ground for industrial waste, including heavy metals. You may not wish to eat fish that came from there, particularly the oily fish, which retain high levels of pollution from the environment. If you live in Europe and are interested in healthy food shopping, you may also wish to avoid fish caught in the Irish Sea, due to the continuing, scandalous problem of radioactive contamination from the discredited Sellafield-Windscale plant, on the West Coast of Britain. (Regretfully, because pollution does not respect international borders, Irish fish caught within Irish waters, by Irish fishermen, struggling to make an honest living, may be contaminated due to the refusal of the British government to close down their dangerous plant.) The very best fish, if you are able to get it, is that which comes from the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Avoid processed cheese. It may provide protein and calcium, but also contains unhealthy additives and it tastes like plastic! It is important, when your children are young, to get them used to the taste of wholesome, natural food. Buy blocks of good artisan cheese, without additives and cut if off as you need it.
  • Completely avoid sugary ‘juices’ and fizzy drinks. If you don’t start your children drinking fizzy drinks, they won’t develop a taste for them. Instead, use juices and smoothies as treats. For something special, make up a home-made lemonade using honey, or less sugar than is in the bought ones. Regarding ‘juices’, the only juice your child should be drinking is pure fruit juice with absolutely no additives. So check the label. Not everything that calls itself a ‘fruit juice’ is a fruit juice! Many have loads of sugar and little, if any, fruit. Even pure fruit juice in cartons has a low vitamin content, as it has been over-pasteurized to prolong its shelf-life. The best juices are those you find in the refrigerator section of the supermarket, the small bottles of ‘freshly squeezed’ orange juice with the bits in. An even better option is to squeeze a few oranges yourself. However, water is absolutely the best drink to give your child on a regular basis, as fruit juices do corrode their teeth. But remember, the principles of healthy food shopping apply to buying water as they do to everything else you buy. Be discerning and read the label first. Mineral water does what it says on the tin, it provides minerals, which we all need. If you need to buy a bottled drink for your child, still mineral water is probably the best choice. If your child doesn’t eat a lot of dairy, mineral water can be a great source of calcium. But, even with water, you need to read the label! Buy one with a low sodium content (sodium is the harmful ingredient in salt). You also need to be careful of mineral waters that come in plastic bottles. Not only are they environmentally destructive, but the antimony in the bottles can leech into the water, with unhealthy consequences. When I buy mineral water, I look for one that comes in a glass bottle. Generally though, I use filtered tap-water. Because of the chemicals, such as chlorine and fluoride, put into our water supply by local authorities, it is not wise to drink unfiltered tap-water. The best filtering systems are the ones you install in your home to filter the supply as it enters the house. But jug filters are a good alternative if you cannot install a whole system. When you have been using a filter for a while, you will notice the taste of chlorine in your tea, if you make it with unfiltered water.

Reading Food Labels

Learning to read food labels is one of the most important things you can do to improve the healthiness of your diet. You cannot make good shopping choices if you don’t read the labels on what you are buying and understand what they say. Not doing this, is a type of shopping illiteracy and will leave you dis-empowered and in the dark about what you are feeding your family.

Information is power and you need to take the power back from food manufacturers and advertisers, so that you make the decisions about what to feed yourself, or your children. Reading the labels gets easier once you know what to look for.

But, be warned, it’s never completely straightforward, because food companies want to keep the consumer in the dark about all the stuff they throw into our food to increase their profit margins. They often try to disguise ingredients, or call them by their scientific name and they rarely specify what the origin of the chemical is, which is also of concern to the person who is eating it.

In the meantime, do what you can to inform and empower yourself about what is in that jar you are going to feed yourself, or your children. To help you, here are the basics of label literacy:-

Food Label Tip # 1.

The most important thing to know about labeling is that the ingredients are listed in order of decreasing volume. Whatever the product contains most of, will appear first on the list of ingredients, and so on in decreasing order. If you see fat, sugar, or salt, first on the list of ingredients, you can assume the food in question is not going to be a healthy one.

Food Label Tip # 2.

If the label indicates vegetable oil, look to see whether it is hydrogenated and avoid if it is. Hydrogenation is the process that turns vegetable oils into the same texture as animal fats. Your body is tricked and cannot process them properly and they are very bad for the cardio-vascular system. Hydrogenated fats are also referred to as ‘trans-fatty acids’ or ‘trans-fats’. Trans-fats have now been banned in all restaurants in New York city because they are so dangerous.

While we are waiting for them to be banned in all foodstuffs, we can simply ban them for ourselves and so take responsibility for our own health. I note that the British Marks and Spencer supermarkets have banned trans-fats in all products they sell and other supermarket chains should follow suit.

Food Label Tip # 3.

Watch out for hidden animal ingredients. Even if you are not a vegetarian, it is good to be cautious about the by-products of the global meat industry which find their way into processed food. You have no way of knowing what standard of food-safety was applied to this ingredient if you don’t even know from where in the world it originated.

Food Label Tip # 3.

Watch out for hidden animal ingredients. Even if you are not a vegetarian, it is good to be cautious about the by-products of the global meat industry which find their way into processed food. You have no way of knowing what standard of food-safety was applied to this ingredient if you don’t even know from where in the world it originated.

You might think you are buying a simple, vegetable-based tomato sauce. But it could contain meat products from the other side of the world, disguised as bouillon (stock). In this case, only settle for vegetable bouillon. Watch out also for gelatin, another meat product which crops up everywhere, even in pre-whipped cream. ‘Shortening’ or ‘fat’ is usually another indication of meat-sourced fats. Glycerine and stearate are also ingredients which can have undeclared animal sources. Many products now carry the vegetarian symbol (a large V). Even if you are not a vegetarian, these are the ones to buy.

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Gloria Brown
Women's health and wellness retreat leader providing vacations and trips for women to get in shape -- and stay that way! On CleansePlan.com you can find my articles about weight loss, health and women's issues. Please feel free to contact me on [email protected]

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