The Paleo Grocery Store Strategy:
I’m continuing my mission to clean up my eating habits and my cupboards. In the process I’ve come up with a few good rules to shop by. Even if you’re not following the paleo diet, incorporating a few of these rules can help make for healthier grocery shopping which ultimately leads to healthier eating.
1. Shop the perimeter: They say this is a good strategy if you want to save money on your grocery bill, but it also works as a clean eating strategy. The processed foods are found in the center isles. The unprocessed foods, for the most part, are found on perimeter. I usually start in produce section, work my way to the meat section in the back, and turn the corner to the natural foods section where I’m lucky enough to find a wide array of bins for staples such as raisins, pumpkin seeds and hazelnuts. I’ll dash briefly into the middle isles for mustard or kippers. And I might pause in confusion to consider strange grocery store shelves with headings such as “new age beverages” and “frozen novelties.” When did we start calling re-marketed soda and vitamin sugar waters “new age?”
2. Use a hand basket: I am lucky enough to be in walking distance to the grocery store, but nevertheless I think it’s a smart idea to shop often and fill your basket with fresh produce and meats. I go shopping about once every two days – three at the most – if you use a basket instead of a cart, you’re forced to make decisions as to what is most important and what isn’t.
3. Stay away from things with more than three ingredients: This is my favorite rule! Pick up any item and flip it over to see the ingredient list. Does it have more than three ingredients? If yes, put it back! Simple as that. You’d be so surprised at how many foods you’ll eliminate that way and what you can find to replace them. It’s kind of a fun game and it forces you to reconsider what goes into the food you eat.
4. Take a chance: Following rules one through three, pick up an item that you normally wouldn’t purchase. This is a great way to experiment and I’ve tried some funky things I would have never even considered: dandelion greens, kippers, hazelnut butter, weird yellow squashes that look like UFOs.
5. Splurge within reason: Identify a few healthy vices and have just enough of those treats in your pantry to satisfy a craving. For me that’s coffee, a little bit of red wine and bananas slathered in almond butter. Following the paleo diet doesn’t mean you’re restricted and can’t eat anything comforting. It just means that your definition of comfort foods and vices changes a bit. Nothing seems more decadent than a banana slathered in almond butter and topped with macadamia nuts. It’s pretty heavenly stuff!