How To Grocery Shop Intentionally

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There is a big “trend” right now to shop organic, to eat whole foods, to buy foods with few ingredients that are minimally processed but let me tell you, I don’t think this is just a trend. I think that there’s a good reason that shopping and eating like this is popular; we are finally learning how to educate ourselves about our food. We are no longer content with just what companies tell us in advertisements, and that’s a good thing! 

I’m not one to be all conspiracy theorist-y and I’m not really a “crunchy” mama, although I do sell essential oils, but I do believe it is important that we educate ourselves when it comes to our food. Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19) so it’s our job to take care of ourselves and that means eating and shopping intentionally. 

I will say that I have like no self control when it comes to food so I am often guilty of just eating anything and everything but it is my goal to be more intentionally about what I eat. 

I was inspired to be more intentional in my grocery shopping when I read Tsh Oxenreider’s book Notes from a Blue Bike [click the photo of the book cover to check it out on Amazon using my affiliate link]. Ya’ll this is a life changing book! It’s an easy and quick read but it’s so thought provoking too! The entire book is wonderful but the chapter on food was what I loved the most. She talks about quality over quantity, avoiding companies with unethical practices, buying fair-trade, eating produce seasonally, eating more plants than meat (it’s good for your waist and your wallet!), following the 80/20 rule with your meals, and being intentionally about sitting down for meals as a family. In additional to the tips, Tsh makes each item actionable and realistic. 

Inspired by Tsh’s book, I’ve been working to grocery shop more intentionally and I’ve come up with six rules that I do my best to follow when I’m at the grocery store. 

How to Shop Intentionally

Shop Local As Much As Possible

This is one that I just love to do, I love supporting local businesses, especially when I know that it’s good for me too! By shopping locally, not only are you supporting your neighbors and keeping money in your community, you’re probably going to get fresher, tastier foods. Your produce and meats don’t have to spend hours or days being shipping to you so you know it’s going to be fresh and yummy! Buying produce and meats locally also means that you’ll have more farmlands! If the farmers are making money off of their land, they are less likely to sell it. Local foods also tend to be cheaper because they doing have to pay for shipping, if you buy directly from the grower you are also eliminating the pricey middle man. I also just find it more fun to shop at local farmer’s markets!

Buy Fair Trade When Possible

According to Serious Eats, buying fair trade products is good to do because, “Fair trade products have a "floor" price. This means that regardless of the market, the specified crops cannot be sold below a certain price. This protects small farms and underrepresented communities from falling prey to market fluctuations, and from being bought out by larger farms. Additionally, entire farming communities often engage in fair trade practices together, and make decisions about the future of their crops through a democratic process. Fair trade also carries with it an understanding that the producer and the consumer have a direct relationship, rather than operating through a faceless middle man.” That’s pretty awesome, right!? How can you say no to that! 

Foods like [affiliate links] Larabar Bars, Divine Chocolate Cocoa Powder, Green Mountain Coffee K-Cup, Madhava Raw Agave Nectar, and Choice Organic Rooibos Herbal Tea are all great choices for eating fair trade.

Eat In-Season Produce

There are two big reasons to eat in-season produce: 1) it’s going to be fresher and grown and its peak time which means it will be tastier and 2) it will be cheaper because they didn’t have to go through a whole big process to get it to grow out of season. 

Shop Organic

Organic foods are foods that are free of harmful chemicals, bursting with more nutrition, taste, and sustainable sustenance...why wouldn’t we want to eat foods that don’t have chemicals?! has a great quote about why eating organic and avoiding chemicals is awesome: “Eating organically grown foods is the only way to avoid the cocktail of chemical poisons present in commercially grown food. More than 600 active chemicals are registered for agricultural use in America, to the tune of billions of pounds annually. The average application equates to about 16 pounds of chemical pesticides per person every year. Many of these chemicals were approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) before extensive diet testing. The National Academy of Sciences reports that 90% of the chemicals applied to foods have not been tested for long-term health effects before being deemed "safe." Further, the FDA tests only 1% of foods for pesticide residue. The most dangerous and toxic pesticides require special testing methods, which are rarely if ever employed by the FDA.” 

Organic foods are also going to be more nutritious because they are grown in a more sustainable fashion. Also according to, “On average, organically grown foods provide: 21.1% more iron (than their conventional counterparts); 27% more vitamin C;  29.3% more magnesium; 13.6% more phosphorus.” The healthier soil will also make the produce tastier!

Look at the Clean 15/Dirty Dozen List

The Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen lists help guide you in buying produce so that you have less pesticides in your diet. The Clean 15 list identifies produce that is generally made without or with very, very little pesticides even when they are not certified organic. The Dirty Dozen is the opposite, it’s a list of produce that you’ll want to eat organic because otherwise it will be pretty much covered in pesticides. You can check out the 2017 Clean Fifteen/Dirty Dozen Lists here. 

Go Minimally Processed, Less Ingredients, + Foods You Know

This is one that I am working really hard to be better at...ideally my pantry would only have foods that are made up only of few ingredients and ingredients that I know. By following these guides you are cutting out foods that can affect your hormones and you are getting less fat, sodium, and sugar.

If you go to the grocery store and follow this list, you will see that your grocery bill will most likely be higher. You can either adjust your budget or adjust what you buy. Eat organic and healthy while on a budget by eating mainly produce and by shopping smart. I recommend doing the bulk of your shopping at Aldi because their brand is one of the healthiest out there and it’s so insanely affordable that it’s almost hard to believe. You can read more about my love for Aldi here.

How do you shop intentionally at the grocery store? Do you try to cook from scratch rather than buying heavily processed, pre-made foods? Stay tuned for a very exciting (free) challenge being announced later this week!