The idea of eating better often makes it onto New Year’s resolution lists, but usually in the form of calorie-counting or portion control. Goals focused on restriction and short-term thinking generally don’t work for lots of reasons, chief among them because restriction isn’t fun and doesn’t make food taste better. So how about focusing on ways you can make your meals taste great, be better for you, and become a permanent part of your everyday life? The good news is that good food can be easy to find, make, and enjoy. As you kick off your grocery shopping in 2015, keep these tips in mind.
- Think venues. You’re more likely to find fresh produce, good-quality animal products (from farms rather than factories), and less-processed staples at independent health-focused grocery stores than at mainstream retail giants. Produce markets, farmer’s markets, and ethnic markets are also good places to shop.
- Think local. Check websites like eatwild.com and localharvest.org to find everything from farmshare/cowshare opportunities to markets featuring local goods.
- Think ahead. As you browse through magazines and websites, rip out and print out recipes that look appealing. Then when it’s time to grocery shop, take a moment to browse through those saved favorites to plan a week’s worth of meals. One plan and one grocery list means one (time-saving) trip to the store!
- Think with your wallet. Want to save your grocery dollars? Feverishly clipping coupons isn’t your best option—not only does that take a lot of time, coupons are generally attached to highly processed, non-perishable foods. While things like canned beans and whole grains are great to have in the pantry, coupon-riddled chips and faux salad dressings are not. Planning meals ahead and not overbuying ingredients is the true money-saver—it’s the epitome of “waste not, want not!”
- Think like your fridge. Don’t know what to make for dinner? Let your fridge tell you. Whatever needs to be used promptly—fresh produce, meats and seafood, perishable dairy products like cottage cheese and cream—can become the centerpiece of your meal. Example: you have green onions, broccoli, shrimp, and mozzarella cheese in the fridge and garlic and whole-grain pasta in the pantry. Steam the broccoli, sauté the garlic and green onions with the shrimp, and toss it all with the pasta and grated mozzarella. That was easy!
- Think simple. The best ingredients don’t need ingredient labels because they are what they are: fruits, veggies, unadorned meats, fish and seafood, spices, herbs, nuts, seeds, unprocessed dairy products (milk, cream, butter), and unrefined oils are single-ingredient ingredients. And with a little label reading, you can find condiments with simple lists, like peanut butter made of just peanuts and salt and mustard made with just mustard seeds, vinegar, and salt.
- Think savory. American breakfasts, snacks, and beverages are based on sugar. Try going the savory route and having eggs and bacon for breakfast instead of sugary cereal (some of which is 40% sugar by weight). Instead of snacking on a granola bar, try olives, nuts, or cheese. Or dark chocolate—ounce for ounce, 85% dark chocolate has half the sugar of a granola bar! Enjoy sparkling water with a wedge of lemon instead of a soda. Sixteen ounces of refreshing sparkling water with lemon doesn’t have any sugar, but a 16-ounce Coke has 48 grams of refined sugar.
- Think positive. You’re going to love feeling healthier and happier in 2015, because it’s going to be a year of great food!