In reality you’re going to have to divide and conquer with your shopping cart if you want to make your food work for you. By divide and conquer what I mean is that it’s almost impossible to find all the healthy food you need at just one store.
If you want to put quality ingredients into your body and get the quality health benefits that come from it then you’re going to have spend the time. Start thinking of your shopping like we think of hunting – different places for different food sources.
You don’t find your elk and your fish on the same mountain.
My shopping is divided differently everywhere I live in the world, because no two places are the same. These days I find the healthiest breads, milk and my canned goods at one grocery store with a fresh bakery. I buy my fruits and vegetables from a market. Finally, I get my meats from a local butcher.
With any luck you’ll be able to get your sustainable, healthy shopping down to just three sites. But if its a little bit more or less – don’t worry. That’s your life! Make it a healthy one!
Fruit and Veg
Remember, if you’re buying frozen fruits and vegetables then you can avoid thinking of your fruit and veg as an entirely ‘fresh’ experience. See my Frozen Fruit And Veg article for more tips on this subject.
Farmers markets are a good place for fresh fruits and veggies in your quest to divide and conquer. These goods should be purchased and in your refrigerator within 24 hours of having been picked. Consume within two days of purchase if you’re going to get the full nutrient value out of what you’ve paid for.
Fruit and vegetables are fragile, but they’re also vital contributors to most of our nutritional requirements. So make sure you buy the best available, wherever you can find them sold for reasonable prices.
I do my fruit and veg shopping three times a week, but twice a week is adequate.
Meat and Fish
Some grocery stores have great in-house butchers, but butchers are normally what you’re going to need if you’re going to get the best available red and white meats. Fish, however, can be bought in a variety of places.
Whether fresh or frozen, make sure you pay attention to the horticulture of the animal that you’re going to be eating. Ask the right questions! See my Know Your Meat Quality article for more tips on this.
Some grocery stores have in-house bakeries these days, and these are a helpful option. Brown breads, whole wheat breads, healthy sourdoughs – there’s all sorts of nutritious breads provided you eat them in moderation.
Avoid white breads and breads with fruits in them. Just bread. No sugar. The fewer the ingredients the better.
At my house we like uncut loafs, because the crusts taste so nice and you can get some non-uniform slices, which we like. Plus bread is just fluffier when it’s unsliced. Experiment with some healthy breads at your local bakery and get yourself acquainted with a few different options to add to your weekly shopping (and eating!) routine.
Canned Foods and Fresh Milk
I tend to look get my milks and canned foods in the same places, largely because this is a relatively uniformed culinary category in most of the countries I’ve lived in.
Certainly I’d recommend that you buy the healthiest canned foods and milks, but my goal here is to plant the seed of need for diversifying your shopping locations. Experience the best of all options when you put food in your body. Don’t settle for whatever the shop closest to your home has in stock.
For milk I tend to buy a couple of different kinds, as I like one for teas and coffees, and another for my little boy. Some of the canned food we lean on the most in my house are canned tomatoes, baked beans in tomato sauce (my husband is English!), sardines, beans and tuna.
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