All of us typically enter a grocery store, or shop online, with a list of items carried faithfully in one hand – built over the preceding week as we either ran out of key staple foods, or some desire for certain foods crossed our minds.
If you are on the Paleo diet, this behavior hasn’t changed, but what is written on your list may take a little more thinking. The good news is after about 2 months of changing my eating habits, my grocery list process is now about as automatic as it was before, as I’ve adapted to new groups of foods and staple items needed to ensure I eat healthy – but the first couple of months it took a conscious effort and sometimes return trips to the store to grab items that slipped my mind. 20 years of shopping habits can be hard to break!
So what are some key differences in how you build your list and shop for food when on the Paleo diet?
Here is what I’ve learned:
- You should buy double the amount of meat you normally do (preferably lean cuts of beef, pork, and chicken). You will transition your Saturday and Sunday meal preparation to prepare double portions of your recipes so you can freeze “lunch portions” for throughout the week.
- You should always try and buy at least one roast for crock-pot meals and leftovers – i.e. pork or beef roasts are excellent, easy to prepare, and with vegetables on hand make food for several meals.
- Spend more time in the produce section. At least half of your grocery cart should be full of fresh fruits and vegetables. Mine typically has organic apples and pears, Kale, Spinach, Carrots, Onions, Oranges, Bananas, Cantaloupe, Watermelon (I buy all organic when possible except for Oranges, Cantaloupe, Watermelon, and Bananas since you don’t eat the skin on these).
- Visit the fresh and frozen seafood section – when wild caught salmon goes on sale (i.e. in the US < $9.99/pound is considered a good bargain) grab extra and freeze them.
- In the lunch meat section – no longer should you grab whatever lunch meat is on sale. Hunt for the nitrite free varieties (most stores now carry at least 1-2 brands such as Hormel and even Oscar Mayer has a line called “Selects” now). Do the same thing for Bacon (Coleman and Hormel are two widely carried antibiotic and nitrite free).
- You may include almond or coconut milk now in place of dairy or soda pop. You can find this in the same section as dairy in most stores.
- Eggs – no longer relegated to Sunday morning breakfast. Organic, free range chicken eggs are the best to buy, and on the weekends you’ll be boiling some of these to have available throughout the week as snacks.
- Chicken – don’t bypass the cheaper packages of drumsticks and thighs – grilling a package of these on the weekend and freezing into individual bags gives you options for lunches and dinner in the coming week.
- Oils – Olive oil and coconut oil are all you should be buying for cooking – stop buying regular vegetable oil.
- Nuts – Even if you never had these on your list before, Almonds and Cashews are excellent snack items, as well as salad toppings. These help replace those other “snack” items you know you shouldn’t be eating!
After you spend a few weeks shopping with the above tips, as well as preparing more food on the weekends for use during the week, you’ll settle into new shopping habits. Some items you’ll end up finding online or at a local Costco such as nitrite free Jerky which is great for a quick snack at your desk or on the run.
The most surprising thing for me was discovering some new produce items I honestly had never considered cooking with, and having fun experimenting and finding recipes (e.g. Turnips were an example of this, which now find a place in almost every crock pot meal I make).
You can learn more about the Paleo Diet as well as other lifestyle tips to eating a healthier diet on Russell’s blog.