Its no secret to any of my friends that if you come to my house you’ll get offered a “healthy” snack. Yes, I’m “that mom” who buys organic and “all natural,” blah, blah, blah. So I get asked all the time where I shop and how I know what groceries to buy for my family. In the past, I didn’t think what we ate mattered much. I used to be the girl that lived on Chick-Fil-A and an entire pint of Bluebell a day just because I could. I used to think it didn’t matter until I learned.
See friend, I also had horrible acne and I had a really hard time getting pregnant with our first baby. (Being a Labor and Delivery Nurse and not successfully getting pregnant for almost a year was one of the hardest things I’ve gone through.) I had horrible migraines and I had the worst brain fog. Then, when I finally did get pregnant with my first (after “cleaning up” my diet a little) I got Gestational Diabetes. I was told it was in my genes and there was nothing I could do to change that. And to some extent that’s true, but I also realized that I didn’t want to be a victim of this disease and I knew I’d rather staple my face to the wall then give myself insulin shots for the rest of my life.
Fast forward a couple of years as my oldest kiddo got older and I started noticing that what we put in our bodies did actually matter. It did affect my kids’ behavior, their immune system, their poop, and their skin. I started reading labels more closely and noticed that sugar is hidden in almost everything with different names to seem less obvious that it’s in there. I learned that the modified corn starch, trisodium phosphate, food dyes, and artificial flavors in my kids’ breakfast cereal actually weren’t that great and all these issues cleared up once I simply started reading labels and picking different things to buy at the grocery store.
As moms, we are the gatekeepers in our homes. It’s important for us to be empowered to make better choices for ourselves and our families, setting us all up for success and health now and into adulthood. So while going to a certain store doesn’t eliminate the need to check labels, I’m going to share with you my favorite places where I’m likely to find great alternatives that my kids still love.
My tips on shopping:
1. I try to shop the perimeter first. I stay around the outside of the store where the fresh produce, meats, eggs, and dairy are. I very rarely find a lot of great healthy things on the aisles that hold things packaged in boxes. The fresher and fewer ingredients in the actual product I’m buying, the better.
2. When I do shop the aisles, I check the ingredients lists on the packages I’m thinking of buying. Generally, anything with more than 5-6 ingredients is a red flag and I try to stay away. I assume this means a bunch of junk that I may not want in our bodies are included in the product. Spoiler alert: I don’t think the FDA regulates food additives quite like I thought they did, so it’s important to do research on ingredients I’m not sure about. Pull out your phone real fast to read about it before you buy. Also, just because something is organic or gluten-free doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for you.
Places to shop:
Sprouts (price point – low to high): I like Sprouts because they have a lot of healthier options to choose from and their produce is usually fresh. They have great sales and if you shop on “Double Ad Wednesday” or the BOGO Sale that happens pretty frequently, you can usually stock up on really healthy and yummy food for your family inexpensively. They also have great meat options. If you’re a fan of grocery delivery, you can order thru Instacart (but it’s pricey, in my opinion).
Natural Grocers (price point – average to high): Very similar to Sprouts. The produce and bulk items might be one of the cheapest in town but meat and other items are more pricey. They only sell organic produce so I know I’m getting the best quality. I’ve always been impressed with the produce I buy from there. Overall, they have the best options for the healthiest foods in town, in my opinion. Downside: no grocery pick up or delivery options yet. And don’t forget to take your own bags! If not, you’ll be carrying your groceries out in recycled boxes!
Market Street (price point – average to high): This place has great options for antibiotic and hormone free meat and organic produce. They also usually have healthier snacks and similar options (although not all) to Sprouts and Natural Grocers. My favorite thing about them is that they will do free grocery pickup and $10 delivery – a mom lifesaver! Their website can be cumbersome to navigate but once you’ve ordered a few times, it saves your previous purchases so you can add those items to your cart quickly next time.
Costco (price point – low to average): My love for Costco is going to come out here. This place is amazing! I can stock up on my favorite things like organic almond butter, sprouted grain bread, Kerrygold butter, organic avocado oil for cooking and the list goes on and on. Healthier snack options are fantastic here too but don’t forget to still read labels. It is definitely worth the membership cost, in my opinion. Fun tip: visit around lunch time so your kids can go bananas over the free samples they offer!
Walmart (price point – low to average): Walmart is a great option for a family on a budget. They are getting more and more healthy options and even have a small selection of organic produce and better quality meats. You just have to teach yourself to read ingredients because labels will mislead you. A huge plus to shopping at Walmart is the free grocery pick up and $10 delivery option. The grocery pickup and delivery app is very user-friendly.
Holy Cow Beef (price point – low to average): This is a locally owned company that supplies all natural, high quality, grass-fed beef. If you’re looking for the best beef at a reasonable cost, I highly suggest this option. Visit the website (holycowbeef.biz) to shop the catalog and send an email to place your order. They will let you know when your order is ready for pickup.
Once you know better, you can do better. While better quality food may add a little more to my budget every month, I’d rather pay for wellness now, than sickness later. You really can take your health into your own hands and teach your kids differently too! You’ll be setting them up for a lifetime of success!