The Definitive Guide to Healthy Grocery Shopping

Healthy Grocery Shopping

As a dietitian, I am well aware of the fact that going grocery shopping can be a nerve-wracking and stressful experience for a lot of individuals. For instance, the majority of my patients go to the grocery store without a plan and are unsure which items to put in their shopping cart because they do not know where to begin.

In addition, there appears to be an infinite number of food options accessible, many of which come in misleading packaging, making it difficult to evaluate which meals actually contribute to a healthy lifestyle and which ones are best avoided.

In this post, I will discuss the fundamentals of healthy grocery shopping, including how to choose foods high in nutrients, how to make an efficient shopping list, and how to stock up in order to reduce the number of times you need to go grocery shopping.

Before you go

Some people are able to go grocery shopping without making a list or having any notion what meals they will prepare during the upcoming week, but the majority of shoppers require some kind of strategy before they head out to the store.

If you are someone who finds it easy to get distracted while shopping or if you are unsure of where to start, bringing a weekly menu or a grocery list with you is a smart idea.

Making a grocery list that is good for you

For many people, a shopping list is an indispensable piece of equipment. It might assist you in remaining focused on the activity at hand and remind you of the things you require. In addition, research have shown that grocery lists can assist shoppers in making healthier selections when they are shopping.

But what should go on a food shopping list to be considered “healthy”?

In general, a diet that is healthy and well-balanced should focus primarily on consuming foods that are whole and rich in nutrients. When I talk about foods, I’m referring to things like vegetables, fruits, sources of protein like fish and eggs, beans, nuts, and seeds. These are the foods that should take precedence on your list.

When compiling your shopping list, you may find it beneficial to divide it into distinct categories, such as nonstarchy and starchy vegetables, fruits, beans and grains, nuts and seeds, proteins, frozen foods, dairy and nondairy alternatives, beverages, sauces, and other assorted products.

To give you an idea of what might be on a healthy shopping list, here’s an example:

  • Fruits: apples, blueberries, clementines, grapefruits, and avocados
  • Vegetables that do not contain starch, such as broccoli, asparagus, onions, spinach, peppers, and zucchini
  • Sweet potatoes, baby red potatoes, and butternut squash are examples of vegetables that contain starch.
  • Chickpeas, black beans, brown rice, and quinoa are some examples of beans and grains.
  • Eggs, canned salmon, chicken breasts with the skin on, and pea protein powder are all sources of protein.
  • Frozen foods: frozen mixed berries and frozen greens
  • Nuts and seeds, specifically roasted almonds, pumpkin seeds, and natural peanut butter.
  • Alternatives to dairy products such as cashew milk, coconut milk, feta cheese, and full-fat Greek yogurt
  • A variety of condiments, including sun-dried tomatoes, olives, pesto, olive oil, salad dressing, and salsa.
  • Beverages consisting of unsweetened coconut water and carbonated water
  • Assorted ingredients, including ground coffee, dried fruits, dark chocolate, banana plantain chips, and shredded unsweetened coconut.

You won’t have to make as many trips to the store to buy things that can be stored for an extended period of time, such as peanut butter, protein powder, and bulk cereals. I will discuss how to provide your kitchen with products that will survive for a long time at the end of this article.

Creating a menu for the week

You can opt to carry a weekly meal to the store with you rather than your typical shopping list if that is more convenient for you. This menu can detail the ingredients that you will need in order to prepare the meals that you have planned for the upcoming week.

For those of you who enjoy meal prepping, for instance, you might find it helpful to print off the recipes you have planned to prepare. After that, you can proceed with your shopping based on the ingredient lists.

It is important to keep in mind that if you are accustomed to ordering in or eating out for the majority of your meals, it may not be realistic for you to attempt to cook all of your meals and snacks at home all of a sudden. Therefore, if you are new to meal preparation, it is recommended that you start cautiously and set a goal for the first week to only prepare a few meals.

When you get into the swing of doing that, you’ll be able to incorporate additional meals into your rotation of cooking for the week. It is possible that it may take some time before going to the grocery store and preparing healthy meals at home on a daily basis become part of your routine. This is true of all healthy habits.

How to stock your kitchen like a pro with these helpful hints

It is important to keep a good supply of frozen and nonperishable goods in your kitchen if you do not enjoy making regular excursions to the supermarket. Even when you have a limited supply of fresh items, this might make it easier for you to prepare nourishing meals and snacks.

Before you head out to the store, it is essential to conduct a thorough inventory check of your kitchen, including the cupboards, the pantry, the refrigerator, and the freezer. This can help reduce the amount of food that is wasted and ensure that you have the necessary components to cook nutritious meals.

You’ll have to make more frequent purchases of fresh foods and other perishable goods like fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, and other fresh stuff. During this time, it is possible to make fewer trips to the store to pick up perishable items and things that may be frozen.

The following is a list of some ideas for durable basics that you may keep in your pantry as well as your freezer:


  • Pistachios, cashews, almonds, and natural almond butter, as well as other nuts and seed butters such as peanut butter and hazelnut butter.
  • It is important to keep in mind that after opening, certain natural nut butters need to be stored in the refrigerator. The best way to preserve the quality and flavor of nuts and flours made from nuts is to store them for extended periods of time in the freezer.
  • Vegetable oils, including avocado oil, coconut oil, and olive oil
  • Quinoa, brown rice, oats, buckwheat, and brown rice pasta are some examples of grains.
  • Unsweetened dried fruit: dried mango, raisins, dates, and dried cherries
  • Seasonings including ground cumin, paprika, paprika powder, curry powder, turmeric, and garlic powder.
  • Beans, both canned and dry, including chickpeas, lentils, and black beans.
  • Tuna and salmon in cans: Wild Planet tuna and salmon in cans
  • Products for baking and sweeteners, including baking powder, baking soda, honey, maple syrup, and vanilla extract, chocolate powder, and flour blends.
  • If you want to store flour for a lengthy period of time, put it in the freezer.
  • Milk alternatives that can be stored at room temperature include coconut milk, oat milk, and Elmhurst cashew milk
  • Sauces, salad dressings, and condiments, including unsweetened marinara sauce, Primal Kitchen salad dressing, and mayonnaise; olives; sun-dried tomatoes; apple cider vinegar; balsamic vinegar; and spicy sauce;
  • Snack foods including chocolate-covered almonds, banana plantain chips, trail mix, and tortilla chips
  • Vegetables and fruits that keep for a long time, such as sweet potatoes, potatoes, onions, and butternut squash.
  • Assorted ingredients consisting of unsweetened dried coconut, dark chocolate chips, pea protein powder, coffee, chicken and vegetable broth, and coconut water.


  • Chicken, ground turkey, chicken sausages, and salmon that has been obtained wild are all good sources of protein.
  • Fruits and vegetables that have been frozen, including cherries, berries, mango, spinach, edamame, broccoli, riced cauliflower, and peas.
  • For the bread, we serve both Ezekiel bread and sourdough.
  • Nuts, flours, and grain-free flours: When storing these ingredients for an extended period of time, keep flour, nuts, and flour made from nuts in the freezer.

If your kitchen is well-stocked, all of your needs will be met, and you won’t have to worry as much about going to the store to buy groceries as frequently. Be sure to double verify what you already own before venturing out to the stores so that you don’t end up buying duplicates of things.

At the retail outlet

Let’s talk about healthy grocery shopping now that you know how to properly prepare for grocery shopping and stock your kitchen with the necessary items.

When going grocery shopping, the following are the things you should prioritize the most:

  • focusing primarily on buying foods that are unprocessed and high in nutrients
  • shopping based on the items on your list or the weekly meal plan
  • Refrain from making purchases of food based purely on the appearance of the packaging
  • examining the food’s nutritional information and list of ingredients on the packaging
  • keeping to your strategy and making an effort to refrain from making impulsive purchases

Sadly, the majority of grocery stores are not designed in a way that encourages customers to eat healthily. Instead, they are arranged in such a way as to encourage you to make specific purchases, many of which are not in any way beneficial to your health.

For instance, supermarket stores frequently hold deals on ultra-processed products such refined snack foods and soft drinks and also construct displays for these items in their stores. These can frequently be found at the exits of aisles as well as the cash registers.

If you go into a situation with a plan, you will be less likely to let yourself be sidetracked by displays and sales. Simply resolve to follow the items on your shopping list to the letter.

Finally, if you want to reduce the likelihood of making impulsive purchases at the supermarket, you should aim to limit your shopping trips to times when you are not hungry.

How to get about through the aisles of the grocery store

Shopping the perimeter, also known as focusing on purchasing goods placed on the outer margins of grocery shops, will assist you in making better food selections because this is typically where you will find fresh fruits and vegetables, proteins, and other perishable foods.

In spite of this, the central aisles of the store contain a great number of products that are good for you, such as bulk cereals, nuts, seeds, nut butters, canned foods, sauces, and frozen foods.

You don’t have to shun the entire aisle just because some of the food options in it are highly processed because that’s where they are located. There are times when aisles have a combination of foods that are good for you and those that are extremely refined. An example of this would be a snack food aisle that also sells nuts and seeds in addition to cookies and chips.

To begin, start putting things on your list that need to be consumed quickly into your shopping cart throughout the store’s perimeter. This should include fruits, vegetables, and proteins. After that, proceed to the interior aisles where you will find items such as canned goods, nuts, and whole grains.

Understanding how to read labels

Simply because something is packed does not mean that it is automatically unhealthy. In spite of this, it is a good idea to read the labels on packaged goods to see what ingredients they contain and to look at the nutrition information.

Despite the fact that foods that are harmful and highly processed typically contain a long list of ingredients, the same may be stated for many packaged goods that are healthful. Before deciding whether to buy anything or put it back on the shelf, it is essential to first check the label to see what ingredients the product contains.

If it is a form of sweetener, refined grains, or highly processed oil among the first few ingredients, it is often not something that I would consume.

The amount of added sugar that a food product has is the aspect of its composition that I focus on the most. Consuming an excessive amount of added sugar can be detrimental to your general health and can raise your chance of developing ailments such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and mental health disorders.

For instance, I just came across a product at the grocery store that was a readymade version of chai latte. I couldn’t believe that one serving of three-quarters of a cup (180 mL) had an astounding 31 grams of added sugar, which is equivalent to roughly 8 teaspoons.

Even though the product packaging included health-oriented phrases such as “organic” and “gluten-free,” the product really contained a significant amount of sugar syrup, which was listed as the second component.

When you are out shopping for foods that typically have some added sugar, such as granola or cereal, a useful piece of advice is to choose products that have less than 6 grams (1.5 teaspoons) of added sugar in each serving. This will help you keep your sugar intake in check.

Possibly what the contents of a shopping cart for healthy food would look like

Everyone has different dietary requirements, but in general, when you go grocery shopping for health, you want to fill your basket with foods that are high in nutrients.

Consider the following as an illustration of what might be found in a healthy shopping cart:

Cauliflower, asparagus, broccoli, sweet peppers, onions, garlic, bell peppers, greens, leeks, and mushrooms are examples of vegetables that do not contain starch.

  • Fruits: oranges, bananas, apples, grapefruit, lemons, blueberries, pineapple, and avocados
  • Eggs, fish, chicken, ground turkey, and tofu are all sources of protein.
  • Sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, and winter squash are examples of starchy vegetables.
  • Quinoa, oats, brown rice, dried black beans, buckwheat, red lentils, barley, and farro are some of the grains and legumes that are included in this category.

Pumpkin seeds, macadamia nuts, almonds, and natural peanut butter are some examples of nuts, seeds, and nut butters.

  • Foods that are preserved in a can, include salmon, sardines, beans, chopped tomatoes, and marinara sauce, as well as canned pumpkin puree.
  • Different kinds of oils and condiments, including olive oil, salad dressing, avocado oil, salsa, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, dried spices, honey, and maple syrup.
  • Products made from dairy as well as alternatives to dairy such as full-fat Greek yogurt, cheddar cheese, goat cheese, cashew milk, and coconut yogurt
  • Snack food options include dark chocolate chips, trail mix, unsweetened dry fruit, and hummus.
  • Foods available in the frozen state, including frozen raspberries, frozen shrimp, frozen kale, and Ezekiel bread
  • Drinks: seltzer water that has not been sweetened, herbal tea bags, and ground coffee

This list is neither comprehensive nor conclusive, but it can serve as a general reference for outings that involve shopping.

In a diet that is both healthy and balanced, there is, of course, still place for the things that you enjoy eating the most. It is not necessary to fully abstain from foods that are generally seen as having a lower level of nutritional value, such as chips, ice cream, and cookies.

Instead, a balanced diet should place an emphasis on consuming nutrient-dense foods that not only make you feel good, but also provide your body with the resources it needs to thrive, all while allowing you to continue to enjoy the things you most like eating.

For instance, I never run out of high-quality chocolate in my kitchen, and while it doesn’t always come in a dark kind, I adore salty potato chips of practically any variety. It is entirely normal and good to have cravings for and appreciate foods that aren’t generally thought of as being very nutritious on sometimes.

Final Verdict

The trip to the supermarket doesn’t have to be stressful for you.

You can make your excursions to the grocery store easier and more fun by creating a list or meal plan, taking inventory of your kitchen, stocking your freezer and pantry with long-lasting basics, and planning out your meals.

You just need to give some of the advice presented in this piece a shot, and before you know it, you’ll be an expert when it comes to shopping for nutritious groceries.