Laura asked me a lil while ago to do another post on my favourite activity and I was more then willing to write that on up for her and all you guys who may have questions about this topic as well.
So what are we talking about here?
I actually love to grocery shop. I get so many cool new ideas and inspiration just from wandering around. It’s very relaxing to me…
However, I may have an issue..
Anyways, so onto your question Laura.
What types of tips can you give to students for grocery shopping. What should I buy, etc? What about when I’m on a budget.
So the first thing I’m going to say is that you need to know what foods are right for you and your body and lifestyle. I will talk about what I like and what I feel makes for a healthy lifestyle, but that does not imply that I think my food choices are best. For example, I firmly believe in buying as much natural, whole and organic foods as I can afford because if your body is built off of what you give it, why not give it foods in their most natural and utilizable form?
Of course, not every student can afford or cares to buy grassfed, organic, etc things
And that’s okay.
I tend to avoid things in a box, but some people may love their cereals and such.
That’s okay too.
Take my words with a grain of salt and always, in the end, do what works for you.
Okay so here are my thoughts and tips based off my beliefs about wholesome eating and how to take those beliefs into your grocery store.
Before you go:
~Don’t be hungry. The saying is true, you will buy more things when you are not hungry or not satisfied then when you are content and therefore thinking with a more logical part of your body (ie. not you rumbling tummy). #HangryProblems
~Plan what you may want to have during the week. The extent of this ‘food prep’ list is up to you, but food prepping and having food on hand is such a great thing for busy students as it allows for easy access to fully cooked foods that are good for you, easy to produce quick, on the go meals with and helps to save money as well due to not having to buy out.
~Write yourself a list. Especially if a budget is important, write what you need and stick with it. Bonus points if you know what is on sale! If you cannot do this ahead of time, you can generally see the flyers when you walk in and adjust your purchases based on what is on sale that you like. Things like meats, dairy and fish are great to catch on sale as those are some of your more expensive items.
~Check what you already have. You don’t want to end up buying more then you need or more stuff that can then go bad on ya.
When you’re shoppin.
~Stick to whole foods first. That means you are shopping the exterior (with some exceptions). Meats, fish, dairy and alternatives and your produce are all around the aisles, while the convenience or processed foods tend to be centre stage. I know they seem to be easier then preppin from scratch, but those foods are filled with all kinds of nasties like preservatives, unnecessary sodium and sugars and just stuff your body doesn’t care to house.
~What’s local or in season? Produce bills expensive you say? Try to include things that are in season. If you can’t get to (or don’t enjoy attending) a farmers market, then buying local in the stores is your next best way to save money. More bonus points as you are being more environmentally friendly by purchasing foods that don’t have to travel far.
Selfish point: Buying local also generally means they have retained more of their nutrients as the time between pickin and sellin is less then if it had to be flown in. Nutrients for you, money for your community farmers. Win:win situation I think.
~Think about non-meat alternatives. Again, if budget is your thang, these will be a life saver for you. As I have mentioned, I ain’t about that soy life so things like tofu, tempeh and the ‘fake meats’ are never going to make my list, but if you enjoy those, then by all means nab some and save some dollar dollars as they are cheaper then animal products. I will say that if you are choosing the soy route, this would be one of my staple organic choices as pretty much all soy is GMO otherwise. Even buying organic here is cheaper then meat generally. Also consider the plant based proteins such as beans, legumes and even some high protein grains and seeds such as quinoa, spelt, buckwheat (soba noodles anyone?), amaranth, etc.
~Bulk Life. Buying staple items such as rice, oats and pasta can save big bucks. Rice is another thing I would recommend buying organic and if you buy the bigger bags, they really aren’t that expensive plus they will last forever!
~Watch your condiments and sauces. These are notorious for hiding those nasty ingredients that we are told about in the news but may not really know we are ingesting them. How about a lil MSG with your thai food? Read those labels my friends. Personally, the only condiment I use is mustard, the others are whole foods like olive and coconut oil, vinegars and such that I can make my own dressings with. If you prefer pre-made, here are some tips:
Dressings: Watch for excessive amounts of sugar, especially in the ‘lower calorie’ versions, which I would not recommend buying anyways. If they cut fat, they have to add other things to make up for it. Those other things tend to be gums, thickeners, sodium and many forms of sugar
Sauces: Sodium is the killer here mostly and potentially some unwanted chemicals. Thai and other stirfry sauces are the worst for sodium so try to stick to lower sodium options, and natural if possible as they tend to not then add weird things to make up for sodium. Also take note of ones that are MSG free. Marketers will use the many different forms of the name MSG in order to try to sneak that ingredient by you so be cautious (check out this list). This guy is one of the big ones that should be banned but still finds its way into many condiments, especially Asian food ones. BBQ sauces tend to rack up in the sugar department so try to either make your own (there are so many easy recipes out there!) or go for natural and sugar free options
Toppers. The most natural you’re gunna get is mustard. Perhaps some hot sauces, salsas and guacs can be okay if they are minimally processed and have a short ingredient list. Things like Ketchup is tough because it has both sugar and high sodium, so if you like it, try making your own version (try this page for an easy and deeper flavoured homemade ketchup!) or just be mindful of how much you use.
~Don’t be afraid of the deep freeze. I actually just talked about this with my housemate a little while ago. Don’t think that frozen vegetables, fruits, fish and meats are lower quality. In fact, sometimes frozen is better for you! In the case of vegetables and fruit, these items loose their nutrients as they ripen and so if they are frozen right after picking, they retain their nutrient value for much longer!
Quick Tip: Look for flash or quick frozen as they tend to yield better products. Other ones may have been frozen at lower temperatures causing clumping and a weird thawed product. The faster and colder they are frozen, the better they will be when they thaw due to less internal damage during the freezing process. #FoodScience.
When you get home.
~Prep some things. Before you put it all away, take the opportunity to help yourself out a lil bit. Even if it’s a small task of washing and slicing some fruits and/or vegetables to have on hand for snacks, every lil bit helps and if you do it before you put it away, you are more likely to do it period. I would also recommend portioning out your meats. Take out some to cook and baggy up some to freeze for later in the week.
Okee well those are my tips for grocery shoppin. I have a few other comments about organic food in general so if you don’t care about organics, then parooze right past this part and I hope these lil tidbits could help you out!
Okay, so I mentioned that I tend to buy as much organics as possible (for my budget) because I want to get the best for my body. Of course, this is fully dependent on the whether organic standards are true to their word…
Anyways here are my thoughts.
Fruits/Vegetables: I tend to buy local first (when at the farmers market) and then organic next. If it’s a ‘dirty dozen list’ I try at all costs to buy organic. For the most part, I tend to prefer organics for things I eat the skins of so my greens, squash, sweet taters, berries, etc. Things like banana’s, avocados, etc I don’t really have a prefrence. Yes, if organic practices are truly followed, it’s not just about me, but also about the environmental impact, but if I had to choose due to budgeting, I will go for organics for the things I will be eating in entirety. Also, if I had the option of free trade vs organic for things like bananas, I would choose free trade because #PowerToThePeople..
Dairy: I don’t buy dairy as I’m lactose intolerant, but I do recommend buying organic and humane. You avoid the growth hormones and grass-fed cattle always means happier cows and more nutrients for you.
Meats: Red meat is always grass-fed for me, and in fact, I rarely eat beef, but instead go for my exotic meats from a local bulk freezer place (MacMillans) and those are always pasture raised due to the types of animals we are dealing with (can’t stuff an elk into a closed off pen like a cow..). As for chicken and turkey, I cannot afford those to be grass-fed but most of the time I’m lazy and just by roasted chicken (1/2 the time it’s from GoodnessMe! which is grass-fed, antibiotic free) and take off all the skin.
Fish: I would say about 1/2 of my fish is humane and wild caught, 1/4 is local (from MacMillans again) and 1/4 is just wild. I avoid farmed due to the heavy chemical load, dye usage and the fact that I don’t really like the practice so I don’t like to support it. There are some species of fish that I love but refuse to buy simply because of the fishing practices like tilapia and most arctic char. Lastly, I also try my best not to go nuts on the big fish despite me loving a lot of them (swordfish, tuna, etc) as they take a while to replenish their numbers.
Eggs: 95% of the time I buy grass-fed, no growth hormone eggs. I want ‘happy chickens’ people and you can actually tell the difference. Most people will shrug this off until they see the difference in yolk colour. That pale yellow conventional egg yolk ain’t got nothing on my golden to almost orange coloured free range egg. The farmers market makes these extremely cheap to buy to so it’s a win win once again.
So that is officially it my friends. Laura (and everyone else!) I hope this suffices but if you have any further questions, throw them in the comments and I will happily answer. 🙂
What are your thoughts on organics?
Do you like game meat?