I don’t know about you, but my grocery bills are some of the biggest in my budget. Food takes a bit place in my life, I love eating good, healthy food.
So when I hit the grocery store, how do I pick what I want to spend my money on? This is something that took me a while to figure out, and takes some soul searching outside of the grocery store.
The first thing you need to figure out is what is most important to you. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to be perfect, so you have to list your values in order, and know what’s more important to you. (And this, my friend, varies by person!)
1) Plastic Free
Hands-down, this is the most important one for me. I try to buy all my fruit + veggies out of plastic, unless there are no plastic-free options. Then I’ll consider if it’s something I really want, or if I can just do without.
To be able to do this, I bring reusable produce bags to the grocery store and hit Bulk Barn once in a while for some bulk dry food (like beans, tea, popcorn, spices, etc.)
2) Organic food
The most annoying thing a grocery store can do is have all their organic produce wrapped in plastic. That means that I have to pick between two very important values.
You might be lucky enough to have a place that offers both, but most supermarkets in Canada wrap their organic food in plastic.
I’ve decided that I care more about the plastic than the pesticides for now. If I can do both, heck yeah I’m doing it! But if organic is not offered without plastic, I skip it.
The one exception to the rule
One thing I find really important to buy organic though is my grains/cereals. Living on a small farm in Saskatchewan surrounded by gigantic operations, I get to see how big farms use their pesticides and no thanks.
Basically, they spray chemicals straight on the full-grown crops with the sole purpose of killing the plant so that harvesting it is easier (instead of cutting it down, which is what small farmers still/used to do).
There is a lot to say about this topic, so I’ll probably write a whole post about it. But for now, just know that most flours/oats/grains/cereal are harvested with waaaay too much pesticide for my taste, so I’ve opted for organic bread + flours.
3) Ethical animal products
I eat mostly plant-based, but I’m far from being a vegan or a vegetarian. #cheeseislife One thing though is that I’ll always try to get my eggs free-run since they’re usually much higher quality (plus the chickens probably get a nicer life!) The more colorful the yolk is, the more nutrients you get.
Same for the meat. I’ll try to get grass-fed meat when I can, but since we’re living on the farm we eat the beef from here! My in-laws have a small herd that spends the summer in the pastures (which is land that can’t grow anything other than grass) and that beef is much higher quality than anything else we’ve eaten. Also, it has the smallest travel footprint ever since they’re from the backfield!
If you can find a local cattle rancher to buy your beef from, absolutely do it! The cows are usually treated much better and the nutritional value of the meat is incomparable to grocery store beef.
Also, I don’t eat fish but if I did, I’d make sure it was sustainably fished. But I don’t like the taste, ha! So just tell yourself I’m doing it for the ocean… 🤷♀️
4) Simple ingredient list
When it comes to food outside of the produce section, I try to go with things that are as little processed as possible. Honestly, we don’t buy a lot of “pre-made” items since they’re usually expensive + not that great for us, so I just skip them altogether.
I try to avoid added sugars, hydrogenized oil, high salt content, etc.
5) Palm oil
I stopped eating Nutella when I was something like 16 years old because of its palm oil content (it was the only thing I quit for palm oil, didn’t realize at the time it was everywhere). I didn’t want my daily Nutella toast to be the cause of so many orangutan dying.
Since then, I also try to avoid it as much as possible in beauty products like shampoo + soap, but also in my food. I’ll read the ingredient lists very carefully and try to find other alternatives. There are usually alternatives when it comes to food, so it’s not been too hard to avoid it at the grocery store.
Avoiding it in my beauty products is another story for another post.
And I think that’s pretty much it for how I grocery shop! We’re also not breaking the bank eating this way since we avoid a lot of the expensive items (like $8 bags of “healthy” chips). We spend an average of $600 CAD on grocery monthly for two people, which is not bad considering we’re buying organic + plastic-free when we can.
Now, it’s time for you to list your values and adjust your budget accordingly! Use your money to send the messages that are important to you!
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