You've done your planning for meal prep and now it is time to shop! But first, let's talk about your shopping list...you need a shopping list. Trust me, it is going to make your life easier by saving time in the grocery store, sticking to your budget and ensuring you have everything you need. Here is a list of three simple steps for creating your shopping list.
- List the foods you highlighted on your favorite foods list from Step 1: Planning. In Step 1 we talked about how to identify key foods within each food group to utilize for your meal prep. Identify the foods on that list that you don't have or need more of and add those to your list. This should be pretty simple if you followed the planning process.
- Consider cooking methods. Do you prefer your barley cooked in chicken broth with fresh thyme and garlic? Or would you rather it cooked in water without seasoning? You probably considered some of this in your planning process, but if not, now is the time. Once you've identified how you will prepare each whole food, add to your shopping list the seasonings, broths, etc. that you'll use.
- Add your staple items. For most people, there are those foods and beverages that they use regularly without even thinking about it. For example, my husband and I use a half gallon of organic milk each week for coffee, cereal, etc. While I might not be cooking with the milk per my meal planning, it is still something I'll need to make sure is on my list. Consider what those staple items are for you and add them to your list as needed.
These three steps will form your base shopping list, however, there are a couple additional shopping tips I'd like to share to help you navigate your grocery purchases.
- Fresh vs. frozen There seems to be a general impression that frozen fruits and vegetables tend to be less nutritious than their fresh counterparts. However, this is not necessarily true. Frozen fruits and veggies are picked at their peak ripeness which is when nutrients content is also at its highest. Depending on the season, frozen might even be more nutrient dense than a fresh option that is not in season - just make sure to check that there are no added sugars or salt. Taste preferences do matter too. For instance, I hate frozen strawberries so I tend to only buy fresh when they're in season and use other frozen berries in the Fall and Winter. Do what works for you, but don't be turned away from frozen produce based on preconceived notions of them lacking nutrients.
- Read labels. I always encourage individuals to tune into the nutrition facts label for packaged foods. To be clear, I am not referring to health claims on the front of the package. Marketers are paid the big bucks to make sure packaging is enticing enough for you to purchase the product and claims such as "natural" aren't strictly regulated. Instead, arm yourself with the information on the nutrition facts label to make the best choice for you.
- Consider online grocery shopping. There are definitely going to be individuals who scoff at this and I am aware that some people genuinely like grocery shopping, want to pick out their own fresh produce or don't want to pay a delivery fee. However, for those who hate navigating the aisles, don't have time in their schedule or live in a city like New York where grocery shopping is just a nightmare, online shopping might just be the best thing to happen to you (okay...that's dramatic but still). There are a lot of benefits to online shopping and here are some of my favorite:
- Sticking to a list and budget is a lot easier when you aren't faced with a million choices in the grocery aisle. Yes, you can browse items online too but I truly think it takes away the inclination to impulse buy especially since you can review all of the items in your cart before finalizing the purchase (something I don't really do when shopping in person).
- You can schedule the delivery for a time that fits with your schedule. All you have to do is be home when they show up which means it can be a huge time saver.
- This last one is my favorite! When you view your shopping cart, the products are divided by categories. This is where you can double check that you have satisfied a variety of foods within each food group in one easy step.
There you have it. Happy shopping!
Comment and let me know your thoughts or questions!