6 Grocery Shopping Tips for Navigating the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen

Grocery stores today are filled with eye-catching, highly processed items, and some foods are even disguised as “health foods”. Here are my top tips to make your next grocery shipping trip easier and more efficient:

1. Organic Versus Non-Organic Produce- Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen

Some foods are more heavily sprayed with pesticides and other chemicals than other foods. Organic food can sometimes be more expensive, so if you're interested in reducing toxic foods on a budget then focus on buying the "Dirty Dozen" organic and the "Clean Fifteen" not organic.

The Environmental Working Group's top 12 foods to buy organic (2019 list):

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Nectarine
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Peaches
  8. Cherries
  9. Pears
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Celery
  12. Potatoes

The Environmental Working Group's top 15 that are safe to buy non-organic (2019 list):

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Frozen Sweet Peas
  5. Onion
  6. Papayas
  7. Eggplant
  8. Asparagus
  9. Kiwis
  10. Cabbages
  11. Cauliflower
  12. Cantaloupe
  13. Broccoli
  14. Mushrooms
  15. Honeydew Melons

2. Reflect 

Ask yourself: How do I walk through the grocery store? What section do I buy most of my foods from/What section do I spend the most money in? What time of the day do I go grocery shopping? Do I often forget things? Do I use a list? Do I waste food during the week?

Well, depending on your answers, all of these scenarios can play a factor in how much healthy food you are purchasing. Generally speaking, sticking to the outside parts of the grocery store is a good strategy to ensure you are buying fresh versus processed foods. Also, not going in when you re hungry...seriously,  we have all been there where we go in with a list and come out with something completely different because we were hungry OR when you think you think you don't need a list and end up forgetting half the items and/or buying food you already had, inevitably wasting it and your money!


3. Budget  

Setting a budget can be critical and people find that this can also serve as a way to make sure they are only buying the healthy foods they need! Canada doesn't have the same coupon deals as the United States, however, for all my Canadian friends out there, apps, regular flyers and points systems can be a great way to save some extra bucks. 


4. Meal Planning and Prepping

Meal planning and prepping can be a lot of work when you first start out. However, once you make a few menu plans you can start to reuse them. One thing that can really help when making plans is making sure that you write down all the ingredients you need. This will serve a couple of purposes. It makes sure you don't forget anything at the grocery store, it helps set your weekly budget, and it helps save money by making sure you are not buying more than you need! 


5. Bulk Items 

I highly suggest stocking up on basic pantry items, baking ingredients, nuts, seeds, etc. This can be costly since you are buying a lot at once but it will help you when you start cooking healthy and ensure you have all the right ingredients in place. I recommend you go to places such as Bulk Barn to get nuts, seeds, grains, and other goodies to save some money. 


6. Health Washing 

What is health washing exactly? Well, companies like to use catchwords and phrases and certain images to make their products seem healthy. You made of heard of something similar called "Greenwashing" when companies use different images and phrases to make their products seem eco-friendly, safer for the environment, and human consumption. So how to make sure you are not getting blinded by health washing? Simple: look at the ingredients and make sure they are real and pronounceable (for the most part - healthy foods like "quinoa" can look suspicious if you haven't heard of it).


The next time you go to the grocery store, I challenge you to create a detailed list and try to incorporate at least one these tips above!  I hope these help you make the most out of your next grocery shopping trip by picking healthier options, saving money, and saving time! 

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