20 tips for healthier grocery shopping

Before you leave the house:

  1. Plan meals for the week – breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
  2. Take stock of what you have in the freezer, fridge and pantry.
  3. With budget in mind, make your shopping list based on the gaps between what you have in the house and what you need for your meal plan.
  4. Even though you have a plan you may need to stay flexible – e.g if a fruit or vegetable in the organic section is close to use by date, substitute this in place of other fruit and vegetable and adapt your recipe. Similarly, you can often pick up good deals on organic meat which is close to expiration.
  5. Have something to eat – never shop hungry!
  6. Add more fruits and vegetables to your meal plan. Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables. You can get your 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day for about the cost of a large takeaway coffee.
  7. Add beans and lentils to your meal plan. Pick beans and lentils (pulses) instead of meat for 2 or more dinners every week – lots of protein for less money
  8. Skip processed foods like frozen pizza, cookies and soft drinks. They usually cost more than fresh, healthy food

When you get to the shop:

  1. Try something new every shopping trip – a new cut of meat, a new fruit or vegetable or a new pulse.
  2. Shop the perimeter of the shop – spend the majority of your time and money in the fruit and vegetable area.
  3. Eat a rainbow – choose a wide range of fruit and vegetables of different colours – colours reflect the vitamin, mineral and phytonutrient contents of the fruit and vegetables
  4. Don’t be seduced by marketing of food or deals on processed foods. Don’t hand your power over to marketing.
  5. Always choose the least processed version of foods – for example oats: steel cut oats are the least processed, so choose them first. They take longer to cook at home because less processing has happened at the mill.  Next choice would be rolled whole oats. Still a really good choice and quicker to prepare.  Then would come quick cook oats.  These are very quick to prepare but higher in glycemic index – this means they cause your blood sugar to spike more quickly, and leave you feeling hungry sooner.  Last choice is flavoured sweetened oats prepared in the microwave.  The health benefits of oats are now overshadowed by the sugar, flavours and fineness of the oats. Buying the least processed version will be a lot cheaper.
  6. Choose real food – would your grandmother have bought it? How close does it represent the food?  How many processing steps has it been through to get from the field to the supermarket?
  7. Don’t buy junk food for anyone in the house. If is in the house, it gets eaten.  If it isn’t in the house, it doesn’t get eaten.  Remember food is fuel, not to quell boredom
  8. Avoid foods with more than 5 ingredients, artificial ingredients or ingredients you can’t pronounce
  9. Buy locally produced food when possible
  10. Stock up on healthy foods with a long shelf life, especially when on special – rice, pulses, frozen foods
  11. Buy fruit and vegetable in season. It will be cheaper
  12. Packaged foods which can be good to have in your house include: organic frozen berries – for a smoothie to a sweet craving, frozen vegetables – big packs or individual packs, so there is never an excuse to have a meal without vegetables, canned salmon for some quick fish cakes.
5 tips to nourish your family on a budget

Budget is a big concern for people when they move to a whole food diet.

This is a valid concern, when you see Dominos selling pizzas for $4.99.

There are lots of strategies you can bring to life to help manage your budget

1. Reduce Food waste

Everyday Australians throw out vast quantities of edible food.  By thinking differently about how we treat our fruit and vegetables, we can get a lot more value and nutrients per dollar.

Ideas to reduce food waste:

Beetroot leaves – use in place of spinach or kale.  Similar nutritionally to other leafy greens, you can cook with them the same way.

Cauliflower and broccoli leaves – cauliflower leaves can be trimmed to remove the ends and roasted with your fat of choice and some spices, until they are crispy. Broccoli leaves are milder in flavour than the florets, and can be added to smoothies or salads.

Cauliflower and broccoli stalks – these are just as good for you as the rest of the vegetable, and can make up a lot of the weight.  Roast with the rest of the vegetable or make “rice”.  Can also be juiced.

Potatoes – save time and money by scrubbing your potatoes (and sweet potatoes) rather than peeling.   There are lots of nutrients and fibre in the skin, which you lose when you peel them.

All vegetable scraps – collect in a bag in the freezer, and then add to stockpot when you are making a batch of bone broth

Vegetables approaching end of shelf life – make into a soup and have as a cheap and nutritious meal

Kiwi skin – this is edible and has more fibre and vitamin C than the flesh.  It also makes it less difficult to eat, instead of peeling, or scooping.

Citrus peel – store in freezer for use in marinades, or add vinegar and leave for a few weeks to make a citrus infused cleaning solution.

Chicken bones – boil to make either chicken stock (short simmer, 1.5 hours) or bone broth (24 hours).  Ditch the stock cubes and UHT stock.  Check out my recipe for chicken stock.

2. Buy direct from farmers

Cut out the middle man and find local farmers to source your meat and chemical free vegetables.  This way you are supporting your local economy and not paying huge margins to supermarkets.  Supermarkets spend millions on advertising, that you pay for when you shop there

3. Eat imperfect fruit and vegetables

Supermarkets have been working on the assumption that consumers do not want misshapen fruit and vegetables.  I know a lot of consumers would prefer to have cheaper fruit and vegetables than have perfectly formed fruit and vegetables.  Luckily one Supermarket in France made the brave move of selling “ugly fruit” and now the majors in Australia have followed suit.   But why does this matter, and what are the impacts of food waste?

To produce food takes inputs of land, energy, transport and fuel.  When the food isn’t used, all this is wasted with many negative consequences.

4. Nose to tail eating

Depending on your culture and how you were fed when you were growing up, you may find nose to tail eating too hard to stomach.  It is worth challenging your perceptions on this, as there are many benefits of moving away from the leaner choice supermarket cuts of meat.  People often like to be disconnected from the origin of the meat and just buy meat nicely packaged in plastic.

These perceptions lead to food waste and lots of missed opportunity for nutrition.  Every cow that is slaughtered has kidneys, liver etc.  If consumers don’t want them, they go in the bin.  Think of how much cheaper meat would be if these vast quantities of the animals weren’t disposed of?

To save money in your meat shopping, consider buying the cheaper less popular cuts.

With offal, you really do want to buy organic for things like liver and kidneys.

Buy in bulk, like a half a cow or a whole sheep.  It works out much cheaper, and makes organic meat affordable.

5. Don’t buy processed and packaged food

When you buy food that is 10 little packets with 20g of food in them, you are paying a huge amount of money for packaging, and for people or machines to put the little packets in the big packets.  The cost of the food is minimal.  So try to make as much food as possible at home, and put small portions in reusable containers instead.  This will also reduce the amount of packaging you send to landfill every week.