Tips to Navigate the Grocery Store

I have always loved grocery shopping. I have no idea why, but it's my happy place. Park me at Whole Foods and I would be content for an afternoon.  Funny thing is, most people despise the grocery store. They see it as another errand to check off on their list. I never understood that but turns out people just don’t know what to buy!

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I have found most people that are in two camps:

1. They don’t know how to cook / hate cooking so they eat tv dinners, convenience foods, or takeout for 90% of their meals

OR

2. They try to plan every meal they will eat that week with a new recipe they found on Pinterest that has 8 bajillion ingredients

Neither of these are a recipe for success.

“So what do you buy at the grocery store,” I surprisingly get this question a LOT.

My answer is simple - real food. I don’t buy a lot of things in boxes or that are pre-made. I buy ingredients that become other things.

What most people don’t see is that making food from scratch can be faster than zapping something in the microwave! It's about education and actually doing it that's the hard part for people to grapple with.


Here is how you can navigate the store:

  1. Produce

  2. Meat

  3. Eggs / Dairy

  4. Aisles for specialty items


Now we can navigate these four areas further:

PRODUCE

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What is the first department you walk into when you enter a store? Produce I spend most of my time here.

I try to buy a variety of vegetables that will work for many different meals. Personally, I buy onions, carrots, broccoli, and beets everytime I go to the store because I know I will eat them.

Things like lettuce and mixed greens are good, BUT will you eat them or will they turn into mush in your crisper drawer? TIP: Be REAL with yourself - don't buy food you won’t eat. I try to avoid buying the tub of mixed greens in the winter because I know I don't crave salads when its cold.

Personally, I don't eat a lot of fruit. I don't crave it. I might buy some apples or something from time to time but i would rather eat a slice of gluten-free cake than fruit anyday. Again though, if you will eat the fruit then buy it. If it will rot on your counter than skip it.


PROTEIN

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After I leave the produce section, I make my way back to the meat and seafood section. I try to get a mixed bag of proteins. My hard and fast rule: meat quality over everything else. I will spend more for good meat →  Happy Animals = Better Meat.

  • Chicken - I will only buy the best quality chicken. Organic and free range / pasture-raised only. If I can't find that, I will pass. Meat quality is nowhere to skimp.
  • Beef/ Buffalo: Grass Fed - GRASS FINISHED beef. There is a difference.
  • Ground Turkey - Again, birds are generally treated poorly - I try to buy the best quality I can find. Organic and free range. Lately I have been buying my poultry online for the best quality! You don't have to do that, I’m a nut :)
  • Lamb - A great protein source if you can find a good quality lamb. I personally don't buy this because I can never cook it well.
  • Pork- Please find “pastured” pork. High-quality pork is hard to find in your typical grocery store. I typically skip it and buy online.
  • Game type meats - venison, elk, deer, etc. If you can find these - check the sourcing. Most people won’t find these in their typical grocery store.
  • Fish - Always wild-caught, never tilapia.

EGGS & DAIRY

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  • Pastured eggs are KING. They are readily available in most grocery stores. Or even better, get them from your neighbor that has chickens!
  • Ghee is something you can find in most places as well. Usually it’s in a jar in the baking aisle, but you may find it near the butter. It’s a casein-free butter. Ghee is great for those how possibly can’t do regular butter since all the milk solids have been removed leaving just the fat. Some people that sre very sensitive to dairy, like me, still cannot tolerate it. Which is a huge bummer!

I personally don’t eat dairy, but if you do, make sure the milk, butter, and cheese is full-fat and from grass-fed cows or animals that are eating their native diet. I drink almond milk or coconut milk. There are so many non-dairy alternatives for most dairy products these days.


Have you noticed we haven't gone down any aisles yet? All about the perimeter, baby!


HERBS & SPICES

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These can really bog you down if you are following a lot of recipes you find online. Plus they're not cheap!!!!

Things I always try to keep on hand:

  • High quality sea salt
  • Pepper
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Rosemary(fresh) 

These can literally go on any meal and you will be good.

Other spices are good - you will accumulate more as you go but don’t go buy 17 spices all at once - it’s overkill.


THE REST

I go down the aisles for a few specialty items such as:  

  • Rice
  • Oils and Vinegar
  • Tomato sauce (this is such a time saver)
  • Salsa
  • Frozen veggies
  • Sparkling water
  • Almond / Coconut flour

To sum up, My rules for food shopping:

  1. Buy things that can mix and match

  2. Recipe? Unless you are making something that requires very precise measurements then just #wingit on amounts

  3. Protein, fat, veggies, and sometimes carbs at EVERY MEAL (refer to rule#1)

  4. Buy foods you will eat, but also, be adventurous once in a while. 

If you still have questions or live in the Denver metro and want to do a grocery tour, I would be happy to help! Please reach out via my contact page.