How to Shop for Health at the Grocery Store

Fresh vegetables have no ingredient list Go Gingham

There are so many ‘foods’ for sale at the typical grocery store. Lots of this ‘food’ comes in boxes or cans but is it real food or is it fake food? Is this food from a box really good for our bodies? Is it healthy? Sure, it tastes good but does that mean it’s good for us?

Our journey of eating healthy, real food has evolved from grabbing a ‘box’ for dinner or breakfast to only the simplest of foods. Now, the ingredient list usually has one item. We try to skip ‘boxes’ and canned foods altogether and have found that making “convenience” foods – salad dressing, breakfast cereal, dips/spreads – are so easy that we’ll never go back to buying these items again.

Real food ingredients - vegetables Go Gingham

How to find healthy, real food…

  1. Know your ingredients :: Read the label – not just the front that says, “Natural” or “Healthy” because no one is monitoring those terms. Look for the ingredients and do what we do – keep the list of ingredients to five or fewer. One ingredient is best – and when it’s cooked at home, you know exactly what’s in it.
  2. Steer clear of chemicals :: They’re in so many foods and often times disguised as something else. Potassium bromate? A bread strengthening agent that California has deemed a known carcinogen. Another bad one? Propyl paraben, a preservative, which is known to cause decreased fertility in women. None of these ingredients enter our home – any longer. Yes, it can be inconvenient to eliminate food items or brands we are accustomed to but we’re healthier without these in our bodies.
  3. Steer clear of the center :: Focus your shopping time in the produce section, bulk food bins, and dairy – that’s where I hang out! Occasionally I venture into the food aisles but try to focus on foods that have one word ingredients like ‘beans’ for a bag of beans or ‘whole wheat flour’ if I’m buying flour. (Here are basics to keep in the refrigerator and pantry basics to keep on hand.)
  4. Go with frozen :: Different times of the year can be tough for fresh fruits and vegetables – aside from the root vegetables and apples that can live in cold storage. Frozen fruit and vegetables are readily available year-round. (Find out which fruits and veggies we only buy organic.)

Vegetables for decorating and eating Go Gingham

Much like changing or starting a new financial or health regimen – frugal and healthy make good partners – it’s best to implement these in small increments. Making baby-step changes insures that the changes will stick because the difference will be obvious – healthier food, healthier life. Start a real food journey today – and you’ll be hugging the perimeter of the grocery store, too.

How do you shop at the grocery store and keep it healthy?

Go Gingham related links:

After school snacks that involve beans – and no small packages
How our freezer gets used – what I keep in our freezer and how I utilize the space
Homemade chocolate chip cookies – I swear these are almost health food!
More meal plan ideas are here

More related links:

Want to know what chemicals are entering your body disguised as food? Check with Environmental Working Group. They’re my go to source when it comes to chemicals in consumer products and food. They’re a, “non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment.” I’m on their e-mail list and get updates when congress, the senate, and other government agencies are making big decisions about agriculture, energy, the environment, food, and water – everything that effects the way we live. It only takes me a few minutes to have my ‘voice’ heard and our health is worth it.

9 thoughts on “How to Shop for Health at the Grocery Store

  1. I was introduced to the EWG by reading Go Gingham, so, thank you, Sara! It is the best resource for healthy food information, product safety, and so much more. If I ever have time to blog again, I’m going to post a link to you and the EWG. Internet hugs! – Vanessa


    1. So glad, Vanessa! They are full of resources and information. They’ve changed our lives. By that I mean – my husband’s asthma/allergies are gone and he’s had them his entire life. We’ve cut out buying chemicals – not just in our food but our consumer products/cleaning supplies. Truly, nothing short of a miracle!
      Thanks for writing in, Vanessa! I know it’s hard to find time for everything in life and I wish you luck in balancing what’s going on.


  2. Great suggestions, Sara. I like it when other people research food additives so I don’t have to. 🙂


      1. tells me we have a “chance of snow” which is just par for the course out here … but I think we’re gonna break 40 degrees next week–that’s reason for celebration!


  3. Steer clear of the center is such a great rule of thumb for the grocery store! And if you’re lucky, you’ll even see famous people like Sara of Go Gingham in the produce section! 😉


    1. Hah! Yes, that was fun seeing you!! We always stock up before the weekend eating begins – 4 meals a day 😉 Teens!!
      I have to steer clear of the middle area at Costco, too. I can get distracted there with non-food items that I do not need. Good thing the Mr. is with me to keep me from straying into that department!
      Thanks, EFB!!


  4. 100% with you on this, Sara! And have you heard the latest recommendations on sugar from the World Health Organization? Even more reason to avoid the middle aisles as much as possible!

    And that’s really fantastic about your husband – having asthma and allergies all his life, and once the chemicals are gone, so are they! There are just so many chemicals people are unknowingly bringing into their homes in the forms of cleaners and air fresheners, etc 😦


    1. Truly, all are steps in the right direction, Marian! Less sugar and fewer chemicals – we need less and our bodies revolt. We have completely enjoyed cooking all of our meals and skipping restaurants/processed foods. I know our health depends on it.
      The chemicals in our cleaning/consumer supplies have been an eye opener for us. Honestly, I used to think people who made their own cleaning supplies were ‘hippies’ and now I’m one of them 🙂 LOL!!
      I’ll have to share more about this but it is amazing.
      Thanks for writing in, Marian!!


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