10 Tips for your grocery list

Susannah Hickling

Eating healthily starts with the way you do your food shopping

1. Buy fresh

This has to be rule number one! There’s no simpler or more obvious measure of the health levels in our food than when it’s fresh from the field or the farm.

If more than half your shopping basket comprises of pre-prepared foods, add more fresh fruit, veg, seafood and dairy products, preferably low-fat versions. One exception to the rule is canned tomatoes—they contain more of the antioxidant lycopene than the fresh variety.

 

2. Buy frozen

Frozen fruit and veg are often flash frozen at source, so actually contain more nutrients than fresh produce that’s been hanging around a few days. Frozen veg can be added to stews and soups, or be used in salads, while frozen fruits are delicious in smoothies or as yogurt toppings.

 

3. Steer clear of the danger areas 

In other words, avoid the aisles displaying crisps, ice cream, biscuits, sweets and cakes. Mentally divide the supermarket into different stores—greengrocer, butcher, fishmonger, baker and so on—and restrict yourself to these safe zones.

 

4. Shop with a list

Organise your shopping list based on these safe zones. You’ll resist more easily the temptations of the junk food aisles. Online shopping enables you to do the same, as does shopping on a full stomach.

 

5. Buy in season

Fruit and veg are best when bought in season, when they will have travelled a shorter distance and are cheaper and tastier. June is a fantastic month—make the most of broad beans, strawberries, cherries, asparagus, Jersey royal potatoes, spring onions and more.

 

6. Spend time in the condiment aisle

Choose the following basic ingredients for the foundations of a range of tasty sauces, low-fat marinades and low-salt flavourings: ketchups, relishes, chutneys and barbecue sauces (go for sugar-free options), horseradish, mustards, flavoured vinegars, olive oil, pesto sauces, Worcestershire sauce, chilli sauce, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce. Give mayonnaise and creamy salad dressing a wide berth.

 

7. Select foods with few ingredients

The longer the list, the more unhealthy the food. Avoid prepared foods containing sugar, butter and excessive salt, too.

 

8. Try wholegrain alternatives

There are delicious wholegrain pastas and couscous on the shelves, along with instant brown rice that cooks in ten minutes. Buy wholemeal bread and pick up some wholemeal flour to replace the white stuff in your cupboard. Research has found that people who eat three or more servings of wholegrains a day are less likely to develop diabetes.

 

9. Swap beef mince for turkey mince

Turkey or chicken mince work just as well in chillies or meatballs. What’s more, this substitution can cut nearly a third of the calories and at least half of the fat and saturated fat in a 85g serving.

 

10. Choose plain foods

Flavour plain low-fat yogurt yourself with fruit, rather than choosing the pre-flavoured, sugar-laden version.

Equally, buy plain, unsweetened cereals and add healthy toppings, such as fresh or dried berries, pumpkin seeds or bananas. That way, you bypass the empty sugar calories.