Clean Eating: Meal Prep and Shopping Tips
Clean eating starts with choosing what you are going to eat, then creating a meal and shopping list. This prep work is absolutely essential if you are going to start eating clean, since you are much more likely to continue on this journey if everything is at your disposal. Think not just about weeknight dinners, but lunches to bring to work, breakfasts, and convenience foods that are quick to grab in the morning or to have as a snack.
Keep reading to learn more about meal prepping and grocery shopping for your new clean eating journey.
Start Working on Your List
There is absolutely no avoiding this – you need a list. Your grocery list should be as detailed as possible, listing all ingredients for every meal you have planned this week. If you have any ingredients that you aren’t 100% sure your store will have, it might be a good idea to include some alternatives as well on the list so that meal will be complete. With a list in hand, you can be sure you only buy what is on your list and avoid all those temptations you might come across.
Know Exactly What You Need First
Before you do anything else, figure out what clean eating foods you are going to eat this week. Once you do that, you will have a much better understanding of what needs to go on your grocery list. Always start by seeing what clean items you already have in your kitchen, then make a list of meals you want to make that use those ingredients. After you do that, you can then look at what ingredients are left to get. This is not only a simple way to get started with shopping and meal prep, but helps to save you some money as well.
Clean eating can cost a bit in the beginning as you start gathering the essential ingredients, but you will soon be saving money by not eating out as much and no longer stocking your pantry with processed junk.
Grocery Shopping Tips
Start in the Produce Section
Since a good portion of your list is probably fruits and vegetables, you should start shopping in the produce section. Get all of your fresh produce here first, including things like the healthier salad dressings, hummus, and cheese that is often found in this section. If you are picking up nuts and seeds, you might find them in the produce section as well, especially if you are looking for the raw, organic varieties.
Shop the Perimeter
Once you are done in the produce section, which should be at one end of your supermarket, it is time to shop the perimeter. This means most of your food is around the outer edges of the grocery store. You should only need to go to the middle aisles for certain ingredients like grains and oils. The majority of middle aisles have packaged and processed foods that you are trying to avoid while clean eating, so it is best to avoid the temptation. The perimeter of the store is where you will find your produce, dairy (if you eat it), eggs, meat, and seafood.
Only Going to Middle Aisles for Necessities
Lastly, head to those scary middle aisles, but only go to the ones you absolutely need. Get out of the habit of walking down every aisle out of curiosity. This is often where you get into trouble. If you aren’t getting oatmeal, avoid the cereal aisle. If you don’t need any snacks, don’t even bother with the aisle that has chips and crackers.
Why is This Important with Clean Eating?
You Won’t Snack as Much
The first reason you should consider meal prepping is so you can avoid snacking on foods that aren’t clean. This is a very common pitfall among people who are used to hitting up the vending machine at work or grabbing a few cookies for a snack. If you prepare before the week begins, you should already have all the clean snacks you need, from fruit and nuts to homemade clean baked goods and won’t need to grab a candy bar while at the gas station.
You Have Enough to Get Through the Week
In addition to avoiding the little snacks that can add up fast, you can also make sure you have all the food you need for a week or longer. Another common pitfall of clean eating is that you run out of food for meals later in the week, leading you to getting fast food or ordering pizza, since it’s easier than going back to the store. By planning out all your meals, you can then prep them and have all the hard work done so that cooking is a breeze.