I am on a mission to get my family healthier and cut out all the unhealthy processed, preservative laden foods from our diet and onto a healthy traditional diet with real whole foods. This is going to be a huge learning curve for me as I have 2 young boys, no extra time, and hardly any money to work with.
I have been doing most of my grocery shopping at the discount grocery stores and am looking for tips on what is safe and what to stay far away from when I shop.
Anyone have any starter tips?
Thanks in advance
PS I grocery shop at Walmart. Go ahead....sock it to me hard....I know it's probably horrible!
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When shopping, the best thing is to avoid processed foods. Plan on making as many items from scratch as possible. Keep your meals simple and balanced. Avoid all of the ridiculous-ness on the food tv channels, way too much work and unnecessary to achieve a simple balanced meal.
I do think plain frozen veggies are fine, minimally processed. Check the ingredients to make sure they haven't added a bunch of extra chemicals, but a frozen veggie should be just what it says it is. I like them because they are quick, easy and nutritious.
The hard part might be replacing any processed foods that your family enjoys, like sugary cereals or sugary granola bars. I find it's difficult to get away from the packaged yogurts. Yes they are sugary treats but at least they have more nutritional value than popsicles. If you need things for lunchboxes like packaged fruits or applesauce, read the ingredients and go for the lowest, or no, sugar options.
Walmart really does have all you need to eat a decent diet of no to minimally processed foods. You just have to avoid the incredible amount of crap food that they have too.
we've never lived near a wal-mart, but i've done some great simple traditional foods shopping at one near where we vacation.
I second all said above- whole foods, whole grains, veggies, and the best quality meats you can buy. we shopped for 80% of our traditional foods through our local grocery store- and our shopping style and community shifted the store's inventory. they carried raw cheese, pastured seasonal/summer butter, organic meats of all sorts (bison even), and the funny thing was if you went into that same grocery store 2 towns away (new england here) they wouldn't have any of the same organic/natural items. the other 20% of our shopping was the large portion of my budget that went to raw milk, fresh local eggs, farm items, and bulk brown rice for all our baking. that has been done through the UNFI truck, more recently, bulk at whole foods as we moved.
you can place bulk orders through many stores and even ask them to carry items of higher quality from brands that they have. do they have any organic valley dairy? they make a pastured seasonal grass-fed butter!
getting you veggies and fruits and organic meats from the store is a great way to start providing traditional foods on a budget. and even if it's wal-mart, they're definitely shifting their product base to attract the natural foods crowd, and your local store will try to cater to keeping your business. and the more people ask for the natural foods, the more they'll supply.
You wrote that you're short on time. One thing that helps me eat more whole foods when we're busy is to prepare certain things ahead of time. Take a chunk of time when you have several hours, and just set it aside for food preparation. Plan ahead what you want to make, and shop for the ingredients at Walmart or wherever you like. It also helps me to make a list of all the meals I plan to make for the week, and then make sure I buy the ingredients for them ahead of time.
You can put together things like buckwheat pancake or cornbread mix (all the dry ingredients), soups (freeze them in individual portions), homemade sauces (for pasta or rice), casseroles (freeze them).
Some things that we try and stay away from if we're shopping at "Wally World" (as my parents call it), or other discount stores: premade foods, (since they often have unhealthy oils and sugars in them), non-organically grown soy (high pesticide load), non-organically grown potatoes (high pesticide load), factory farmed animal products (we don't buy animal products as a general principle). One thing that I have noticed about Walmart brand flours is that they are always refined and/or bleached. The white flour is bleached (and refined, obviously), and the cornmeal has all the bran removed. "Stoneground" cornmeal is actually a whole grain.
Some unprocessed products at Walmart are pretty inexpensive in bulk like pinto beans, lentils, brown rice.
Hope that helps!