By Kristen Carlucci RD-N
There are two kinds of people in this world – those who love grocery shopping and those who dread it. If you are the latter, you might wonder why it takes you so long to get your shopping done, what foods you should buy, and whether it is normal that your final bill gives you heart palpitations. It doesn’t have to be this way! Want to know the secrets of those highly successful grocery shoppers? Simply look for sales going on at your local grocery store, plan your meals around these ingredients, and create your list. We are taking you aisle by aisle so you can start filling your cart with fresh, filling, and super healthy foods to fuel you and your family smartly.
Aisle #1: Always start in the produce section since your goal is to fill at least 50% of your plate with antioxidant-packed fruits and vegetables. To save money without sacrificing flavor, look for a variety of seasonal and colorful produce to enjoy all week long.
Stock Up On: Fresh salad makings, summer vegetables for grilling, precut carrots and bell pepper for snacking, berries, cherries or peaches for a healthy dessert.
Aisle #2: Time to fill your cart with meat and seafood! Lean protein helps you eat less by keeping you fuller longer, and helps promote healthy muscles, bones, and skin. You want your plate to be filled 25% with lean protein, or about 4-6oz.
Stock up on: Skinless chicken/turkey breast, wild caught or canned fish (especially salmon and tuna which contain heart-and-skin-healthy omega 3 fatty acids), pork tenderloin, bison, or 90% lean ground meats.
Aisle #3: Not a big fan of animal protein, or trying to reduce your consumption? There are tons of vegetarian protein sources that also make the perfect low calorie, yet filling snack! Bonus: These are a much more budget-friendly option than their animal protein counterpart.
Stock up on: Eggs (whip up a batch of hardboiled for the week), hummus for dipping vegetables, Greek yogurt or cottage cheese, beans or tofu to add to salads, or nuts/seeds and nut butters for a dose of protein, healthy fats and fiber.
Aisle #4: Next stop: High fiber carbohydrates. Yes, that’s right; you don’t need to cut out carbs for good! These should take up the remaining 25% of your plate to create the ultimate balanced meal. Carbs are proven to boost your mood and energy levels, stabilize blood sugar levels and keep you satisfied - the key is to always go for whole grains.
Stock up on: Brown rice or quinoa to add to stir-fry, sweet potatoes (top with black beans and a dollop of Greek yogurt), whole grain sprouted bread for sandwiches, oatmeal for breakfasts, or whole grain pasta with turkey meatballs.
Aisle #5: Lastly, don’t be afraid of the frozen foods section. This can be a great, cost effective option if you are worried about your fresh fruits/vegetables going bad. Produce is frozen at its peak freshness so almost all of the nutrients are retained. Just make sure there is no added sodium, sugar or sauce lurking in there.
Stock up on: Simple, ready-to-steam frozen vegetables to add to your dinners. Or whip up a frozen fruit smoothie to satisfy your sweet tooth after dinner or post-workout.
Shopping smartly is something everyone can do, as long as you are equipped with a list of your favorites from each of these five aisles, grocery shopping can and will be a huge success!
Kristen Carlucci is a New York City-based registered dietitian-nutritionist and corporate wellness coach who has inspired thousands to lose weight and live their best lives. She currently works with the employees at Bloomberg LP, and was also the nutrition expert for Pitney Bowes, as part of their nationally recognized, award-winning corporate wellness program.