Are you trying to eat healthy, but feel intimidated by high grocery prices? Maybe you have the desire to consume nutrient-dense meals but aren’t sure what that looks like in day-to-day life. It’s true: processed foods are inexpensive and easy. But what if the healthy meals we know our bodies need are not as complicated or inaccessible as we think?  

A Healthy Diet

First, let’s define what a healthy diet looks like. We want to focus on a balanced intake of foods that are nutrient-dense, such as; vegetables, fruit, legumes (beans or lentils), whole grains, nuts, seeds, lean proteins (poultry, seafood, eggs), and low-fat dairy. For a quick mental reference point, some people focus on creating a naturally colorful plate; purple beets, orange carrots, green spinach, pink salmon, etc. Others benefit from visualizing a plate that is ¾ full of fruits and vegetables and ¼ protein and grains. Spring and summer are a GREAT time to recommit to healthy eating because produce is bountiful this time of year!

How to Shop

Groceries are expensive right now, and it can be tempting to cut corners and purchase the same old processed meals. But with a little planning, you can keep the cost down while you shop for nutrient-dense grocery options. Our tips:

  • You don’t need to purchase everything labeled “organic” – sometimes this is a marketing ploy. If you’re going to splurge on organic products, focus more on fresh produce.
  • Don’t be embarrassed to buy frozen or canned vegetables/proteins to use in some of your meals – they may not be quite as fresh, but they still provide amazing nutritional benefits at a fraction of the cost!
  • Pay attention to what produce is in season, and shop your local grocery stores for specials. Plan your week around the produce you know will be in season.
  • Enter the grocery store with a list and a plan, and don’t even wander into sections of the store that will tempt you to purchase processed, sugary food options. Having a meal plan in mind will also help you spend less. What you may splurge on for fresh produce will be saved when you cut down on impulse buys.
  • Remember to purchase a few items that make for healthy snacks, such as mixed nuts or hummus.

Tips for Success

A change in habits takes some getting used to, so be patient with yourself! Everyone loves a snack or sweet treat from time to time. The goal is to create long-lasting healthy habits and to fall in love with the feeling of doing something great for yourself when we make healthy choices. Here are our tips for making healthy choices last:

  • Make it fun! Shop farmer’s markets (like the Sioux City Farmers Market, open every Wednesday and Saturday from 8am-1pm) to support your local growers. Ask for the farmer’s recommendations on great new produce to try.
  • Grow your own. Nothing tastes better than a tomato straight from your own garden! Involving yourself in the process of healthy eating will help you to maintain an ongoing interest and investment in your health.
  • Meal plan and prep. When you plan ahead, you’re more likely to use all of the produce in your fridge and create a well-balanced weekly plan. Try this: cook a big batch of chicken breast on Sunday, and use it in simple meals throughout the week (taco bowls, chicken salad, etc)
  • Follow your local grocery stores on Social Media. They’ll post specials, deals, and offers on a variety of products. Pay attention to great sales on chicken, produce, and low-fat dairy products.

Healthful eating is a lifelong learning process, and that’s okay! There will be days that are better than others, and grocery bills that are higher than we’d prefer. The important thing is that we’re trying and committed to working on our health. Every day is a new day! As always, if you need help – reach out to your doctor!

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