Nutrition | POSTED May 30, 2023

Top Tips to Grocery Shop Smart

On your quest to become a healthier you, the weekly grocery shop is a necessary task that can be difficult to surmount. When you have to account for your family and yourself, it becomes even more complex. As you might have experienced, we all struggle with willpower to make health-promoting decisions at the best of times. Convenience, cognitive load and time management are all influencing factors. As the saying goes “fail to prepare and prepare to fail”. In today’s article we will provide our top tips to help you prepare better and simplify decision making.

Shopping for Substitutions

Substitutions refer to swapping out one choice for another. Rarely do we recommend a complete dietary overhaul. This is not only unwise and unnecessary, but simply stressful! Instead, some simple substitutions could go a long way in managing total energy intake. Secondly, substitutions can improve nutrition quality and increase overall satisfaction. A few simple places to start simply involve picking a lower calories version of the same food. This can include skim or light milk, 95% lean mince, cooking oils, pasta variations (as shown below) and sugar free sweetened beverages. Next time you’re on your grocery shop, look for some substitutions – you might be pleasantly surprised!

You can also look at swapping out foods accessible in your food environment. That is, if you were to leave a bowl of chocolates on your desk at work, would you be more likely to eat it? What if you were to swap out that bowl of chocolate for a bowl of fruit? How could that impact your health?

Shopping for Back-Ups

Not everything goes to plan. I’m sure this is something you’ve experienced before. Life is messy, and in your pursuit of a healthier and fitter you, your best laid plans won’t always stick. Substitution is a strategy for everyday however back-ups refer to strategies left in reserve. The most common example is frozen or chilled meals ready for when you don’t have time to prepare meals such as dinner.

We’ve also got in our companion article this month our favourite ready-made meals from three different companies. Be sure to check it out here. Back-ups can also include knowing your food environment and options beyond just the home. For instance, we recommend getting to know your local area and *healthier* takeaway options alongside access to ready made meals.

One example immediately springs to mind. I’m not ashamed to admit it, I do occasionally indulge in McDonald’s. One great back-up option Rachael put me onto is the Grilled Chicken Wrap. It’s not perfect by any choice but, for the convenience of being on the road, 447 cals and 27.8g protein at $8.20, there are worse options if you’re in a pinch. Honourable mentions include the wide variety of ready-made meals now available at petrol stations (such as YouFoodz or MyMuscleChef) and secondly, Nando’s is a fantastic choice when eating out – it’s hard to pass up the Peri-Peri Chicken Tenders and Broccolini!

Shopping Savvy

I don’t think I’m the only person here guilty of opening up the vegetable drawer in the fridge and finding a sad excuse for lettuce wilted in the corner. Not only does the guilt of letting food go to waste hit me, but additionally, the waste of cost and resources. Thankfully, you don’t have to buy fresh food to eat healthy. Although I understand taste may be compromised, buying frozen or canned produce is a completely viable strategy for limiting waste and still achieving your health and fitness goals. As an aside, frozen and tinned foods aren’t subject to seasonal fluctuations in price or availability and as a bonus, usually lower in cost.

Having the right appliances at home, albeit a luxury, means you can limit the time spent on meal prep and help you when you’re short on time, adhere to your health and fitness goals. Air fryers are a fantastic tool. By circulating incredibly hot air they can be used to prepare food in a short period of time without using large amounts of oil or the need to deep fry certain foods. 

An example of a convenient meal that comes to mind that uses frozen foods, limited prep time and is reasonably healthy can be creating air fried and seasoned frozen broccoli florets, potato chips and a fresh lean protein source. You can find all of these ingredients in the frozen section on your next grocery shop!

Set yourself up for success

The weekly grocery shop can be a stumbling block or a chance to step-up to success. Intelligent use of substitutions, back-ups, resource management and appliance use can make achieving your health and fitness goals magnitudes easier. As previously alluded to convenience, *cognitive load* and time management are all influencing factors when making health-promoting decisions. We hope the ideas in our article today provide you with the tools you require to succeed. It’s clear how nutrition can be more flexible and adaptable. Don’t get stuck thinking only freshly made, organic-only, gourmet meals that are cost intensive are “healthy.” If you’re looking for more practical nutrition guidance, you can contact the team at Ivy Training here.