Confession – I don’t always shop with a list.
I know, I know – to grocery shop without a list is generally recognized as unsafe because it supposedly causes you to buy too much shit you don’t need. You end up spending more money, buying more junk, forgetting the stuff you really need, and wandering the grocery store for hours. BUT.
Making a grocery list is a-n-n-o-y-i-n-g.
Not all of us have the luxury of perusing Pinterest for meal ideas and assembling the perfect PHFF list. So, yeah, there are times I just go to the store blind and see what happens. And I know I’m not the only one.
(wondering wtf “PHFF” is? Start here)
So, here’s how to wing it without going off the deep end.
(And, no, this isn’t your average “stick to the perimeter” advice. There’s actually a lot of good shit in the center aisles too. #balance)
First, we have to understand nutrition 101.
For simplicity’s sake, let’s just break everything down into 2 categories: macronutrients and micronutrients. ALL of your PHFF choices fall into these categories.
Macronutrients are things like carbs, fats, and proteins, and micronutrients are vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Don’t stress over trying to count or track this. By eating good quality macros (PHFF), you’re getting great micronutrients as well.
Now, you may be wondering, where’s the F – fiber?
Fiber comes from carbohydrates – which also break down into 2 categories.
- Simple carbs are sugars – natural or not. These break down quickly and raise your blood sugar easily.
- Complex carbs (what we want to focus on eating PHFF!) are starches, which break down more slowly and have less of an impact on your blood sugar.
For easy reference, here are some common complex carbs on *most* grocery lists:
- Grains: rice, quinoa, lentils, regular chickpeas/chickpea or lentil pasta, cereals, granolas, crackers.
- Starchy veggies: potatoes, beets, squash, peas, parsnips, beans, pumpkin
- Non-starchy veggies: everything that isn’t listed above
- Fruit: canned, frozen, dried, or fresh
Next, we have to understand nutrition labels so you don’t go rogue and buy the Doritos.
1. Always check the serving size first.
We’re not paying attention to this number as a measurement of how much to eat, because they’re all based on the 2,000 calories per day standard, but we need to know the serving size to multiply by the numbers below to get an accurate picture of the macros.
Another thing here: serving size is ALWAYS measured in weight or volume.
- Volume – cups, Tbsp, tsp, fluid ounces
- Weight – grams, ounces
2. Everything below the calorie count is NOT weight!
The grams you see next to protein, fat, and fiber indicate grams of macronutrients. That’s what we multiply by the serving size for an accurate picture of PHFF servings.
3. Don’t ignore the Total Carbs line!
This is important because we want to aim for 25-35 net carbs a serving. To figure out what your net carbs are, you have to take the total carb number and subtract the fiber.
Carb – Fiber = Net Carb
Now, we shop. List-less… like a boss.
This is my go-to grocery strategy to stock my fridge, freezer, and pantry with plenty of PHFF-friendly options with very little prep.
1. Shop the whole store.
That’s the beauty of PHFF. There are plenty of options beyond the perimeter of the store. Yes, you’ll get most of your staples around the outside, but you’ll find plenty of great options in the aisles too when you understand macronutrients and nutrition labels.
2. Shop staples.
Another beauty of PHFF – you don’t need weird ingredients to make delicious, healthy meals. All of our meal plans are simple and use ingredients you likely have, regularly buy, or can easily swap.
Swipe my list of staples here:
2 BAGS OF FROZEN VEGGIES
Always have frozen vegetables on hand. This is on my list of things to ALWAYS have stocked in your freezer because no matter how little time you have, there is always time to make a veggie when you have a frozen bag in the freezer!
Cheese. It’s just important. I like to mix it up – usually based on what’s on sale. One cheese has to be melty, the other can be something good for salads like goat or feta.
This one varies a little. My staples are red potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice cakes, and spaghetti squash. But I also love me some chickpea pasta, parboiled rice, and Dave’s Killer Bread.
ALWAYS.ALWAYS.ALWAYS. I eat at least 1/2 of an avocado every day. Sometimes I buy six even. Avocados are one of the healthiest things in the world you can eat, and they’re so good for your metabolism and blood sugar. And guys – tip – once your avos are ripe, just put them in the fridge. They will be more than fine for the week and won’t go bad.
This will probably be your toughest decision, but if you’re like me and buy the same damn things all the time, it shouldn’t be too bad. I ALWAYS get a big container of Fage or Siggi’s 4% Plain Greek Yogurt, and I always buy eggs. Then, I’ll usually buy some fresh salmon or some other type of seafood, some type of chicken, some type of ground meat (look for sales), and tuna or canned chicken for lunches and snacks. But if I find some good beef or pork on sale, I’ll grab that. I might get some chicken sausage, too. Totally depends on the sales and what I’m feelin’.
8 VEGETABLES AND FRUIT
I always grab some type of berries. Always. And then MAYBE some other type of fruit if it sounds good, but I just don’t crave fruit very often so I don’t pick it up a lot. Then I load up on my faves – cucumber, tomato, onions, and romaine always. Then, it depends on what’s in season. I’m having a Brussels sprouts and cauliflower moment right now. And broccoli since I’ve been so obsessed with Coconut-Roasted Broccoli.
Sometimes, I’ll pick up a sauce or two as well. Like a marinara and pesto or some sort of curry sauce in a jar. But it’s not a must. If you follow this guide, I promise that you will absolutely be able to put together breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks all week.
One thing I’m not including here, of course, is some of my pantry staples like olive oil, grass-fed butter, mayo, half & half, and canned tomatoes, but I pretty much always know when I’m out of that stuff and I’ll remember to grab it. If I forget cream for my coffee, the world basically ends.
I hope you guys find this helpful. What are your list-less grocery shopping strategies?