With recent events, many of us have learned to be Champion Shoppers! Rediscovering the value of a well thought-out shopping list and meal-planning have become new essential tasks, and I for one, am loving it!
In a previous post for Earth Day, I mentioned our pledge to limit shopping excursions. I'm guilty of forgetting necessary items constantly, and Jay's guilty of a "quick-run" to fulfill a hankering...which I indulge 100%. This change of habits has cut down our impulse buys and made us more mindful of packing nutrition into our meals and cutting cravings. The added benefit to our waistline has been seen with less snacking/grazing in between meals.
So, in honor of Earth Week, let's look at creating new habits and put the kabash on plastic--and unhealthy eats--with today's Green-up your Grocery Trip!
1. Create Your List
This is hands-down the best way to stick to budget AND make healthy choices. Do not rely on that grapefruit between your ears to remember all the things you needed to pick up. You will end up dragging down the aisles and impulsively buying snacks and ingredients you don't have a plan for. Your memory is valuable real estate. Use a list, make room for more things.
2. Shop the Perimeter
If you don't remember to bring your list, simply remember to shop the perimeter. Grocery stores are designed with your freshest options (produce, meat, dairy, baked nummies) positioned on the outskirts of the store, with your heavily processed and packaged dry goods in the aisles between. During my Detox Program, I teach clients how this habit guides us to choose the best foods for our bodies. The thing to note here, is that the foods that are the most demanding on our digestive system and overall health are also the most packaged and plastic wrapped. Two unhealthy birds and one stone apple.
3. Read the Labels
Asides from discovering many of your favorite foods are jam-packed with chemicals and ingredients you can't pronounce, you can also look for terms like Organic, Fair-Trade, Safe-Catch (Seafood), and Humanely Raised in an effort to remain eco-conscious with your choices. Yes, usually these options can cost a little more, but think about all the money you'll be saving by not purchasing all the packaged junk food. (If the budget is tight these days, I really recommend taking a look at ThriveMarket. Their environmental commitments, zero-waste, carbon-footprint, and donations are outstanding. Use this link for 25% off your first order)
4. Shop Heavy on the Veggies and Plant-Based.
Dairy and meat are pricey, and not just on the pocket-book. Leaning on veggies to bulk up meals saves money and greenhouse gases. Instilling a Meatless Monday let's you get creative in the kitchen while exploring food groups. That being said, don't buy vegetables you aren't going to use. If you're more of a Microwave Chef or out-of-box eater, choose maybe one or two additional vegetables to incorporate or get creative with.
For example, my absolute favorite thing to do with cauliflower is to stick in a drawer, pull it out a week later, and dump it in my compost bin. It never makes it to m'mouth. I don't know what it is about cauliflower, but I put off making meals with it until it rots. Therefore, I don't buy cauliflower UNLESS I pull it out of my shopping bag and immediately prepare it for a later meal.
As for bagging your greens, the conservative estimate for global plastic bag usage is 150,000/second. That should make your stomach drop. Plastic bags are used for a short time and last for centuries. Less than 1% of plastic bags are recycled, and even then, the process to recycle plastic is incredibly toxic. We skip plastic produce bags and use these mesh bags for all our fruits and veggies. And then we use them again, and again, and again.
5. Opt for Paper Bags upon Checkout!
This takes two seconds and saves so much energy and waste. You can also rep some style with chic, reusable bags. I included some of my favorite collapsible shopping bags below. The cute one with pups fits easily into a purse or keychain, so you'll never forget!
6. Compost & Recycle
For the local readers, I wanted to include two services I personally love. Sean over at Missoula Compost Collection offers affordable weekly pick-up for waste like egg shells, food scraps, and even clippings. When you shop the perimeter, clean & green style, you'll notice you end up with quite a bit more food scraps like peels and trimmings. We've cut down substantially on what goes into our trashcan and fill up our compost bin instead of the landfills.
As for glass items, Missoula is severely lacking. So a very grateful "thank you," goes to Recycling Works for Curbside Glass Pick-Up! *Choose glass over plastic every chance you get.*
Both options are easy to fit in any budget and have a substantial impact on the amount of waste we throw in the landfill. Not to mention, you'll be supporting local small businesses, so you know you've done some good! *If you live outside of Missoula, a quick Google Search in your area for Compost & Recycling Services will show your available options!
I understand not all grocery stores have bulk bins, stock their shelves with glass items in lieu of plastic, or even offer paper bags at checkout. Do your best, and always ask. By normalizing these behaviors, companies will have to follow suite.
Remember: Start small and grow. It's all we're to do
(All the links above connect you to trusted sources and products I personally use, and love. If you choose to purchase through Amazon, I may receive a commission which I use to buy things for my dogs at no additional charge to you. So, Max and Buster say, "Thank you.")