In today’s world, we can buy almost anything, anywhere in various quantities. Grocery stores used to be just grocery stores, where you bought items to make food. Now, there’s the pizza bar, the Chinese bar, salad, bar, deli with more items than just lunch meat. Yes, this makes life more convenient, but what is really in that stuff that allows them to make it mass produced for the world to buy? When I transitioned to Paleo, I realized how difficult it was to get over the convenience factor and get in my kitchen and actually make stuff, but now I am happy knowing that most everything I put into my body came from the actual ingredients without all the additives. This is true even if you are not following the Paleo lifestyle…don’t you really want to know what you are putting in your body? No matter whether you are doing Paleo or not, we need to shop smart! (I didn’t really intend to rhyme!)
1. Buy food that is in season. I know that sometimes watermelon may sound really good in the middle of winter, but I always tend to be disappointed when it just doesn’t taste as good as in the middle of July. Why? Probably because it is shipped across the world, treated with something to prevent it from spoiling, or kept in cold storage for weeks. How do I know if it is in season? If it can be grown locally right now, then it’s in season! Plus, produce grown locally and in season is much cheaper, causing less stress on your checkbook! Now, I’m not saying you can’t ever enjoy a mango…because I’m pretty sure there are no mango farms in Kansas. The goal is to eat as local as possible. What if I really want it and it’s out of season? Frozen fruits and vegetables are good choices for out of season items. They are usually packed at the peak of freshness and stock up when they are on sale. Avoid canned items if possible, particularly fruit as it is usually store in syrup. Canned vegetables can be okay, but read the label to ensure that they have no added sugars or salts. Tomatoes, carrots, and pumpkin tend to be your best choices in the canned version.
2. Create a shopping list…and stick to it! I know this may be difficult for some people, I even struggle with it! I’m like a little child with ADHD when I go to the store and can get easily distracted, but when I have a list and pen, I don’t tend to stray too far away from what I set out to get. This helps save some money as well! I tend to make a list with the headings: protein, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and pantry.
3. Focus on your protein sources first, then produce. If you have a budget (who doesn’t?!) it’s more important to seek out “clean” meats than buying organic produce. Yes, today’s produce tends to be lower in nutritional value than years ago due to growth hormones, fertilizers, and the like.I tend to go with the theory if I eat the skin, then I go organic, if I don’t then I can save a few extra bucks and buy regular…although, I really enjoy the farmers market versus the store for my produce! Check out this site to see what you can skip on buying organic and which ones you should. http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/
4. Be realistic. I’ve found myself in this trap before. I really NEED to like peppers because they are healthy for me and something different than I typically eat. But when it boils down to it, I HATE peppers, and they will sit in my fridge until they go bad and I wasted a few bucks that I could have bought a pound of Brussels sprouts and enjoyed that entire pound. Also, with that list you made in point #2, you will only buy what you need and less likely to waste food in the long run.
5. Join a CSA and/or local produce delivery company. Several have popped up in Kansas City recently. I use Fresh Connect, but there’s also Door to Door Organics and some other. Both will deliver organic produce and other grocery items right to your door! I can make changes to my order on a weekly basis as well, just in case there are peppers which I just despise! Here’s some info on Kansas City’s CSA’s. http://www.kc-csac.org/join-a-csa/