Grocery shopping is an art. Think about it: you need bread this week, but you don’t want to waste your money and buy more bread than you can use in a week. But also, you don’t want to underbuy and come Friday, be breadless.
Fine, you buy bread. But you get home and realize--you’ve forgotten the mayo for your sandwiches this week! If grocery shopping is an art, grocery lists are the science that makes the art possible. In other words, a healthy grocery list can help you save time and money, be healthier, lose weight, and enjoy delicious food all week.
Without one, you’re shopping blind, throwing things in your basket as you race through the store like you’re competing in an old Supermarket Sweep episode, inevitably wasting food and forgetting the very things you came for.
If planning your next grocery visit leaves your frustrated and crabby, fear not! We’ve got your ultimate guide on creating a healthy grocery list. And the good news is that once you’ve created one, you can make your list for the week in just a few minutes.
Why Use a Grocery List?
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When we’re talking about grocery lists, we’re not just talking about a quickly scrawled list on the back of a receipt that you hastily put together; we’re talking about a template, a master list you can refer to every week that guides your grocery goals.
When you have a master healthy grocery list, you don’t have to worry about forgetting important staples, and you have a strategy for giving your fridge, freezer, and pantry a quick check before shopping. This enables you to save money because you’re not wasting food or rebuying the same thing over and over again.
How to Use a Healthy Grocery List
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Here’s how using a healthy grocery list works:
- Each week you’ll check your fridge and pantry against your master list. Out of coconut milk? Soy sauce? Tomato sauce? Peanut butter?
- Maybe you’ve noticed you have lots of greens ready to be used up; time to look for a few recipes to use them!
- Next, you’ll make plans for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks. The list is set up with staples so that if you don’t want to make strict plans, you don’t have to. But, if you like trying a new recipe each night, you can do that, too!
Why Should You Use a Healthy Grocery List?
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Here are our favorite reasons to use a healthy grocery list:
1. Save Money
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Not only can you save money by not wasting food, but you can also save money by checking ahead of time for store specials, and building your meals plans around those. If, say, peanut butter is one of your grocery list staples, and it’s on sale this week, you can plan on stocking up because you know you’ll be using it for months to come.
Similarly, meal planning using a grocery list is a great way to take advantage of coupons, whether you’re using online sales like in Target’s Cartwheel app.
Meal planning also helps you to stretch your dollar; you can choose recipes that rely heavily on plant proteins, for example, instead of expensive animal proteins like steak and organic chicken. Plus, since you have delicious food at home ready for all sorts of delicious recipes, you won’t be as tempted to swing through the drive-through.
And, you can plan lunches--we all know taking your lunch to work every day with you saves a ton of money.
2. Be Healthier
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Eating healthy means a lot of different things for different people today. Some people are trying to cut calories to lose weight, while others are trying to eat a plant-based or vegetarian diet, full of vegetables, legumes, grains, and nut and seeds.
Still, others need to cut out gluten or dairy because of intolerances or outright allergies, while others are looking for an altogether grain-free diet as part of their paleo lifestyle. Whatever the case for you, planning your food ahead of time helps you eat healthier because it makes sure you have the food you need when you need it.
3. Save Time
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One of the biggest benefits we can think of using a healthy grocery list to plan your shopping is that it will save time. This sounds counterintuitive, but making a list helps you get through the store faster and keeps you from making repeat trips.
Plus, you can use a list on conjunction with meal prepping, washing, chopping, and otherwise prepping your ingredients as soon as you get home from the store, so they’re ready to go during the week.
Healthy Grocery Lists You Can Use
We’re about to share some sample templates that you can modify for use in your home, but first, we need to tell you the most important tip when it comes to creating your healthy grocery list. All grocery stores are essentially structured the same way, with the nutrient-rich foods on the perimeter and the nutrient-empty foods in the center aisles.
This means, to stay healthy, stick to the outside of the store and only head to the center aisles for things like spices, grains, and canned beans and vegetables. If you can stick to this strategy, you’ll be on your way to healthier living in no time. In the meantime, here are our favorite lists and how to use them:
1. Your Ultimate Healthy Grocery List
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If you’re not trying to avoid specific foods for health reasons, here’s your list:
2. Your Ultimate Paleo Healthy Grocery List
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Whether you’re doing a Whole30 or simply trying to live the paleo lifestyle, paleo shopping can take some time to adjust to. This is why a list is especially important! Here is our list and our tips:
3. Your Ultimate Vegan Healthy Grocery List
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A vegetarian healthy grocery list is even simpler than a paleo grocery list; again, just stick to the produce aisle as much as possible, supplementing with whole grains and legumes, and you’ll be in great shape!
Once you’ve created your healthy grocery list, now it’s time for the shopping! Keep in mind that it could very well take you a month or two of regular trips to fully flesh out the master list that’s best for you. As we’ve already mentioned, grocery shopping is part art, one that you get better at with experience.
Your tastes might change, as well, but what’s important is that you have a master list that you can use each week to whip up your list. This will allow you to save money, time, and finally achieve those health goals you’ve been putting off.