Following are my favorite strategies for making grocery shopping as easy as possible. Just like healthy cooking, healthy shopping doesn’t have to be a chore if you’re armed with the right information (and the right lists!)
- Buy as much organic as you can. If price or availability is an issue, use the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists for guidance. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s website at http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/ and be sure to download the smartphone app to make shipping easier.
- Shop seasonally for the best prices and availability.
- Shop at farmers’ markets.
- To save money, watch for sales and use coupons.
- When properly stored, most produce will last the better part of a week in your refrigerator, so plan smart, and save time at the store.
- Produce like onions, shallots, and garlic do well in a cool pantry and are easy to keep on hand.
- Buy fresh herbs or try growing your own to save money and have instant availability.
- Packaged salad greens save time. You can also buy heads of fresh lettuce, wash and dry them, and package them for the week. If buying packaged, be sure to read labels for expiration dates and choose wisely.
- I love avocados for their healthy fat, creamy flavor, and buttery texture. You can purchase hard ones and let them ripen on the counter-top for a few days, or slightly soft ones that will yield to gentle pressure and be ready to eat. Don’t buy them too soft and squishy.
With these healthy staples in your pantry, you’ll be amazed at the delicious and nutritious dishes you can create.
- Oils & fats: Extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, and extra virgin coconut oil will be your mainstays. Clarified butter or ghee can also be used, as well as sesame oil.
- Nuts: Raw almonds, cashews, walnuts, pine nuts, pecans, macadamias (not peanuts).
- Seeds: Hemp, chia, pumpkin, sunflower, sesame and flaxseeds.
- Nut and see butters: Pure cashew, almond, sunflower, and coconut butter.
- Flours: Blanched almond flour and coconut flour.
- Milks: Almond, coconut (unsweetened and no additives). For canned coconut milk, my favorite brand is Native Forest.
- Broths: Low- or no-sodium frozen or boxed vegetable, beef, and chicken broth (homemade is best, but if you buy, be sure to read labels for additives).
Dried herbs & spices:
- Sea salt, ground black pepper, and garlic. White pepper is nice, too, when you don’t want black specks, although the flavor is a bit different from that of black pepper.
- Dried herbs such as oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, Italian blends, and herbes de Provence.
- Spices such as cumin, coriander, turmeric, allspice, ancho chili powder, chipotle, paprika, smoked paprika, cinnamon, red pepper flakes, nutmeg, ginger (fresh, dried and organic jarred puree; refrigerate fresh and jarred puree after opening), saffron.
- Dijon mustard (look for pure mustard without sugar or chemicals)
- Low-sodium tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)
- Vinegar: Balsamic, unseasoned rice, red wine, white wine, sherry, and champagne.
- Pitted Greek olives
- Nutritional yeast (while it sounds strange, it is very good for you and has a delicious, cheesy taste)
- Frozen berries: blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, unsweetened acai berry puree
- Frozen organic vegetables (if fresh are out of season or unavailable locally)
- Frozen shrimp and other seafood
- Frozen grass-fed meats (beef, bison, lamb), organic chicken and turkey, and clean fish.