Since arriving in Minneapolis it has occurred me that I can’t rely on my parents to make me dinner and buy groceries (I knew it was going to happen obviously but I didn’t think of the logistics). So after an unorganised shopping trip where we managed to squish the loaf of bread, I have decided to set myself the challenge to 1. Becoming better at grocery shopping and 2. Making healthy meals without spending a fortune (leaving more money for exciting adventures). As a newbie to fending for myself I have done a bit of research and together with everything I have learn about nutrition come up with a few tips I am going to try and stick to.
- Buy whole unprocessed foods. Most of the time it is less expensive. For example it is cheaper to buy a bag of oats and jazz them up yourself (with fruit, nuts, or cinnamon) than it is to buy a flavoured sachet of oats.
- Buy frozen or tinned fruit and vegetables where possible. For obvious reasons these last longer meaning you can buy them in bulk without the worry of spoilage (providing you have room in the freezer). A common misconception with frozen fruit and veg is that they have less nutrients compared to their fresh counter parts. This is not true they can actually have more nutrients because they have been frozen close to harvesting and haven’t been sitting on a shelf where nutrients can seep out. When choosing tinned products make sure there is no added salt in the vegetables and that fruit is canned in natural fruit juice or water to avoid excess sugar.
- Buy generic brands. A lot of the time the food product is the same without a fancy label. This doesn’t mean you have to buy everything generic even just getting the basics like rice and flour from these brands can make a difference.
- Drink tap water rather than buying beverages (I'm pretty good at this already but it is still a good tip).
- Buy vegetables in season. They are less expensive and a lot of the time better quality because they are fresher.
- Look to buy cheaper proteins (meats, eggs, legumes) and make them more exciting by adding flavours yourself. Less expensive meats such as beef mince or tinned tuna. You can make mince go further by adding lentils or beans to bulk it out a bit.
- Making a shopping list and sticking to it. It is easy to impulse buy when shopping (I have found it especially tempting shopping in the US because of all the different products. I want to try everything). By doing this the shopping trip will be quick and more focused.
Something else to consider for us is that it can be cheaper to eat at a restaurant than it is to buy food at the grocery store. The aim is to find a healthy balance in life and just enjoy meal times.
There you have it the 7 little things to try and stick by over the next few months. I might do another post in the future about how practical these tips were and anything else I have learnt.
Hopefully this post is helpful for anyone who has recently started doing their own grocery shopping.