Shopping for everyday groceries, especially when searching for affordable nutrition, is one of those tasks that requires serious discipline if you don’t want to wreak havoc on your bank account — or your health. After all, it’s easy to get lured in by those special offers, product demonstrations and bulk-buying deals and then end up with a cupboard full of stuff you’re never going to eat. Alternatively, you may end up buying things that aren’t exactly the best choices health-wise. (We’ve all been there.) To help you map out a plan for your next trip to the grocery store, we’ve created a healthy food guide so you know exactly what to add to your cart. We’ve also added some tips on what to look for in terms of variety and budget.
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Crafting your own vegetables list? There are so many easy, healthy recipes that call for fresh veggies that you can’t really use convenience as an excuse for using the canned variety instead. Besides, canned vegetables may be packed with sodium. In terms of nutrition, there’s not much difference between fresh and frozen, but fresh is so much tastier.
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Looking for more healthy family foods? Poultry, like chicken or turkey, is one of the main protein sources in a healthy, nutritious meal plan. It’s lower in fat and calories than red meat. It’s also incredibly versatile. However, avoid highly processed poultry foods like nuggets. Instead, opt for the whole chicken or turkey: this way, you can use the bones and leftovers to make a nutritional broth or soup.
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Oat Barista for Coffee
Rise and shine! It can be a bit tricky sometimes for those seeking plant-based alternatives to standard coffee additives. The good news? It’s not impossible to recreate the froth and foam of your beloved local café with this Silk Barista Oat coffee creamer which boasts 15 calories per cup. Your morning routine just got a lot more guilt-free, so start sipping!
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For cheap grocery list ideas, legumes are a lifesaver if you’re trying to get enough protein and fibre at the same time. They’re extremely versatile not only for making main meals but also for making snacks, from roasted chickpeas to endless varieties of hummus and dips. While canned beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas are much more convenient, they’re high in sodium. Most dried legumes need some pre-soaking but then putting them in a slow cooker requires hardly any effort.
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Eggs are one of those everyday groceries that can be a little pricey, especially if you opt for organic or free-range varieties, but they’re still very much worth the money. They’re an integral part of a healthy breakfast packed with proteins to keep you feeling full for longer. Free-range or pasture-raised eggs not only taste better, but are better for the hens producing them too: since the hens get to roam free for part of the day, it reduces the risk of spreading diseases.
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Plant-Based Milk Alternatives
Oat is an easy first step for the newcomers in the plant-based beverages category. It has a naturally sweet taste and creamy texture and is incredibly versatile. If you prefer plant-based milk substitutes such as almond or oat beverages, there are plenty of options to choose from, including Silk Unsweetened Oat which has 0 grams of sugar and 70 calories per serving. Bid a not-so-fond farewell to sugars with this drink that offers top notch taste and texture.
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Do you have a bit of a sugar addiction? Fresh fruits will help you satisfy those cravings for something sweet while adding nutrients like vitamin C and antioxidants. Just remember to control your portions because too much fruit can add on the calories.
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Yogurt or kefir
For easy, healthy snacks and smoothies, add some yogurt or kefir to your shopping list. They’re easier to digest than most other dairy products but still give you all that calcium, not to mention probiotics for gut health. Looking for vegan meal prep ideas? You can also opt for vegan versions made with, for instance, coconut milk.
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Coconut Plant-Based Yogurt
For easy, nutritious snacks and smoothies, add yogurt to your shopping list. It’s easier to digest than most other dairy products, but still gives you all that calcium. However, if you’re looking for a dairy-free alternative, switch over to the vegan coconut variety with Silk Unsweetened Plain Coconut Yogurt Style. It’s a great intro for vegan beginners, and is just as creamy and delicious as regular dairy yogurt, albeit free of lactose and available in such delicious flavours such as vanilla, vanilla unsweetened and raspberry.
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Whole wheat tortillas
If you’ve been working from home, you’ve probably become used to making your own lunches with everyday groceries, which is a great way to help you save some money. In warm weather, a sandwich is easy but there’s nothing like a wrap loaded with veggies and some form of protein, like chicken or tempeh, to fill you up without overdoing the calories. Opt for whole wheat tortillas, which are higher in fibre and have a lower glycemic index, so you’ll feel full for longer.
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Salmon is a source of high-quality protein and various nutrients, especially heart-friendly omega-3 fatty acids. Nutritionally-speaking, there’s not much difference between fresh and canned salmon. However, look for wild-caught salmon since farmed fish can have much higher levels of mercury. Need some ideas? Try one of these fantastic ways to cook salmon fillets.
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Nuts and seeds
Looking for some affordable nutrition ideas? If your downfall is the salty crunchiness that comes from a bag of chips, nuts and seeds are a great alternative. Unlike chips, they are packed with protein, fibre and good fats, as well as some vitamins and minerals. Go for the unsalted variety to limit your sodium intake, though, and remember that these aren’t exactly low-calorie snacks so you probably shouldn’t eat the entire bag in one go.
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Olives are a good choice for a healthy savoury snack. They’re full of skin-loving vitamin E and heart-friendly fats and, because of their strong flavour, you only need to eat a few to satisfy that salt craving. However, watch your intake: they’re high in sodium. They’re also higher in calories than you might think.
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Tofu and tempeh
Even if you’re a meat eater, including tofu and tempeh in your diet is a good idea. These soy products are rich in isoflavones, which are great for heart health and may help reduce cancer risk. Tofu is also a good source of calcium and vitamin D, helping you thrive while indoors, while tempeh is high in fibre and prebiotics.
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When it comes to natural foods, old-fashioned rolled oats are a much healthier alternative than breakfast cereal, since they're less processed, don’t contain all kinds of additives and give you a good dose of fibre. They're versatile too: soak them in juice or milk overnight to make a breakfast snack or use them in homemade granola bars where you can control the sugar content.
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There are many grains that are healthy and versatile, but if you want to reduce your credit card debt by opting for cheap groceries, it would be silly to buy a packet of quinoa if you could get five times the amount of brown rice for the same price. Brown rice is high in fibre and has a low glycemic index. Besides, who doesn’t like its nutty taste?
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Mustard, like most ready-made condiments, is surprisingly high in sodium. Making your own mustard from scratch is ridiculously easy, though, and you can experiment with endless varieties while controlling the sodium content. Mustard seeds will add oomph to many other recipes too and they can help protect you against inflammation, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and even cancer.
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Rihanna is one of the healthiest celebs and one of her secrets is to use spices in her food. Most spices have some kind of health or medicinal benefit, but ginger is a must-have pantry essential. You can use it in sweet and savoury recipes alike. It is great for relieving nausea and an upset stomach, but also for cold symptoms such as a sore throat.
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Extra virgin olive oil
There are many different healthy oils you can use for cooking, but if you need to choose just one make it extra virgin olive oil. It’s rich in healthy fats and antioxidants to protect you against heart disease and strokes. It’s even a crucial ingredient in the Mediterranean diet. While its low smoking point makes it best for cooking at lower temperatures, it’s an incredibly versatile oil too.
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It can be hard to stay healthy if you have a sweet tooth. The good news is that dark chocolate is one of the surprising things that can make you live longer. It’s a great source of minerals like manganese, magnesium, iron and copper and is chockfull of antioxidants. The trick is to opt for chocolate with more than 70 per cent cacao and to not eat the entire bar in one sitting.