Lee From America's Grocery List + Tips

(5/17/18 10:15 AM PST) Editor's Note: in a previous publishing of this article, I included a link to a now debunked article regarding the validity of certain olive oil brands. The link has been removed and a new link for reference and information about olive oil is in its place. 

Today on the blog I’m sharing a typical grocery list that I take with me when I grocery shop.

 
 In my happy place, AKA, the frozen foods aisle.

In my happy place, AKA, the frozen foods aisle.

 

Utilizing a list like this helps ensure that I always have items on hand to make healthy smoothies, macro bowls, snacks, and soups. The possibilities are endless, and the combinations change with the season, my cycle, and my tastebuds. Consider these items the foundation of my diet.

Eating a diet that is built primarily on whole, fresh produce with some animal protein and plenty of healthy fats has helped me find balance and natural energy and has curbed my sugar cravings. I also find that following this list helps me stay within my budget. I don’t always buy 100% of these products at once. I shop mainly at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and the farmer's market, depending on my schedule,  budget, and the season.

As you will see, there are not many packaged products on this list. When using this list, you’ll find yourself strolling the perimeter of the grocery store, without going down the aisles. That’s because the aisles are where all the packaged products with added and refined sugars hide, and avoiding these products keeps our bodies healthy and our wallets happy. 

This is meant to be a standard guide for navigating the grocery store, but it doesn’t have to be used verbatim! Add or take out what you like, what is available, and what is within your budget.

See the notes below for more information on this list.

Produce

The key to shopping for produce? Buy it in season and organic when possible. But don’t beat yourself up for not eating 100% organic if it’s not within your budget. Stress is just as harmful as eating a nonorganic meal! Be realistic, and do your best. I recommend always buying organic berries and leafy greens, since they are sprayed the most. Produce with thick skin (citrus, avocados) are sprayed less often so it’s OK not to buy these organic if you are trying to save cash. 

Frozen Goods

This is where the smoothie goods come from! I love buying frozen organic cauliflower florets from Whole Foods for my smoothies. I just add a few pieces directly from the bag into the blender. Here is the recipe for my Blueberry smoothie that uses frozen cauliflower. Buying frozen organic blueberries in bulk (if available) helps shave off a few dollars. 

Specialty Items

These are “special occasion” items for me that I purchase once a month or so. I try to buy them when they’re on sale and usually move through them more slowly to savor them! Make sure to buy these items without added sugars or processed oils- they are items that some brands like to sneak sketchy ingredients into. Always read the ingredients list and be careful of items that contain canola oil, vegetable oil, soybean oil, corn oil, cane sugar, agave, coconut sugar, barley malt, black star molasses, brown rice syrup, corn sweetener, palm sugar, dried oat syrup, evaporated cane juice, glucose, honey, simple syrup, maple syrup, and sorghum syrup.

Oils

You’ll want to be careful of which kind of oils you are using, and there is a lot of misleading conversation about the olive oil industry and its legitimacy, transparency, and honesty with its readers.  Check out this article for more olive oil information.  

My favorite EVOO brands:

  • McEvoy Ranch Organic

  • Omaggio

  • California Olive Branch

  • Kirkland Organic

  • Cobram Estate

Protein Options

This part of the list will be more specific to your individual dietary needs. Vegan? Canned black or garbanzo beans are amazing for your protein requirements. Into red meat? Buy some grass-fed beef! Other quality options of seafood to consider are canned anchovies in water and freshwater trout. It’s really up to you and your diet. I do recommend staying away from soy products due to their harmful effects of the female endocrine system (read WomanCode for more information on soy). 

Bulk Items

Feel free to get what you want- this list is just an example of different nuts and seeds that I like to have on hand. Pay attention to the different prices. For example, organic raw cashew pieces are $4 less per pound than their whole counterparts.Also, buying flax seeds whole and grinding them at home will save you money. If you can, buy your nuts and seeds organic, but do what’s best for you and your budget. 

Still looking for more? Check out my downloadable Meal Prep Guide for recipes using these ingredients that will give you healthy meals all week long!

 
 To save, simply right click on the list above, "Save Image to Downloads", then open from your downloads folder and print.

To save, simply right click on the list above, "Save Image to Downloads", then open from your downloads folder and print.

 

Tips for saving money while grocery shopping:

  1. Find and follow the sales. Period. Use coupons. It adds up if you buy a lot of food like me.

  2. Stay away from the inner aisles.

    • This is where they get you! The inner aisles are not only where all the more expensive packaged foods are, but it's also where all the processed junk lives, even in the healthiest of grocery stores. I try hard to just shop around the perimeter of the grocery store (produce + 'dairy' sections) and avoid the center.

  3. PLAN, PLAN, PLAN!

    • Spontaneous grocery trips are not exactly a budget-friendly way to shop. Over the weekend I like to spend 30 minutes flipping through instagram or magazines like Bon Appetit to get meal inspiration for the week. This helps me get a better idea of what I want to make and eat.

  4. Take a list with you!

    • I always take a list with me to the grocery store. Even if its just a few items, it helps keep me from wandering around and getting tempted to buy everything in site. Also, a very important aspect of bringing a list with you is so that you dont have to go back to grocery store later in the week to get those blueberries you forgot.

  5. Farmer's markets are your friend.

  6. Stay away from pre-packaged, plastic vegetables.

    • Buy the loose bundled herbs, the whole sweet potato (rather than the pre-chopped and peeled one) as they are usually $2-3 cheaper and don't come in icky plastic. Grocery stores know most people are busy, so they carry a lot of pre-cut fruits and veggies for convenience: pre-riced cauliflower, sliced Brussels, shaved + chopped butternut squash. While convenient and perhaps necessary for some, this is not the most price-friendly option. You're paying for the prep work and packaging. It's usually 50% more than the raw version. Yes, it takes more time to do it yourself at home but you'll save money and packaging.

  7. Get your toiletries online.

    • They are always wayyyy marked up at the grocery store.

  8. BYOB: bring your own bags! Whole Foods charges money for bags and now other grocery stores are too. Be nice to your wallet and the planet!

What are some of your favorite grocery store necessities? How do you grocery shop on a budget?