10 Tips for Seriously Speedy Shopping

Do you find that you spend too much time wandering grocery store aisles, overwhelmed and panicky?  Need a quick solution?

Easy: Look for the fewest ingredients in every product

When I walk into any grocery store these days, even Whole Foods, I regard nearly all of the contents of the store as unnecessary. If a grocer wanted to gain my respect and patronage, she would not carry anything molded by machinery in a plant, pumped full of chemicals, and spewed into wasteful packaging.

One of the unexpected benefits of severely limiting the number of processed foods that I buy is that it limits the choices that I have to make. If I don’t have to make so many decisions, I remain pretty focused while shopping and the whole process can be swift and pretty painless, resulting in a full pantry and refrigerator and no feelings of regret or, worse, ignorant confusion about what I’ve just bought. Scouring the shelves for a natural toothpaste, I find only one. So I buy it. I don’t have to spend seven whole minutes deciding between the myriad of equally artificial items. (I do often find myself questioning the need for toothpaste, however, and vow to look up recipes for homemade versions.) Same goes for butter: there are only a couple of true butters in the refrigerated aisle; I don’t have to spend any time looking through “butter products” or margarines because they’re all the same. I simply look for the fewest additives in my food and it makes the selection process very easy.

The way I see it, about 95% of the items in the average grocery store don’t deserve my money.

So with 95% of the store in inaccessible territory, I simply search for the 5% of items I can buy with a relatively clear conscience. And that makes grocery shopping more of a treasure hunt than a boring household duty.

Here are my 10 tips for quick, healthy shopping:

  1. Non-bromated flour (King Arthur makes a good one for baking) – A lesser-known carcinogen that we put in our food, Potassium bromate has been banned in Europe and China, but not here in the US

  2. Pure butter or ghee only; no margarines, spreads, or butter-flavored products

  3. Pure, cold-pressed, organic oils (I use butter/ghee, olive, sesame, grapeseed, and coconut oils in rotation and in small amounts)

  4. No artificial colorings or flavorings, no exceptions. If an ingredient begins with FD&C, just put it down and walk away. Don’t feel disappointed, you were never meant to ingest the thing anyway.

  5. No hydrogenated oils

  6. No high-fructose corn syrup

  7. No packaged flavorings, “quick” meals, or anything that requires a microwave – I use whole spices from my spice rack.

  8. No frozen foods, unless whole, unsweetened fruit (for smoothies)

  9. No sodas (I haven’t purchased soda for myself in many years.)

  10. Almond, coconut, or soy milk in addition to organic, whole cow’s milk. I reluctantly purchase these items despite the sweeteners and preservatives used and am constantly keeping my eyes peeled for truly natural providers.

For years now, I’ve stuck to buying only basic, simple items from the grocery store, letting the local farmer’s markets bring me the variety and spice of life in produce that I crave. Even the basic items that I buy I’m suspicious of, but since I don’t have my own cow or almond tree for milk, I’ll continue purchasing the boxed versions until that, too, is remedied.