We all aspire to be healthy eaters but life often gets in the way and we may not always make the best choices. Eating from home is an important aspect of that for me. Healthy eating starts with what you are buying!

How to creating a healthy shopping list
Deciding what to buy before you hit the supermarket and having a list can really help with minimising impulse buying and have a fridge brimming with healthy foods for the week! Or even better write a list and get your other half to do the shopping!

  • A quick inventory of fridge/freezer & cupboards is great to place to start, as memorising the fridge contents isn’t always top of mind and there is usually a nice surprise in there!
  • Check your diary so you know how many breakfast, lunches, dinners and snacks you are creating from home this week. Deduct from what you have in your cupboards to get an idea of how many meals you need.
  • Are there any quick meals required during the week due to going out or any other special requirements?
  • What are your individual requirements/priorities/routines? Every family is different with their eating needs. Oily fish and meat free days are important to me and make a good combination! So every week we have meat free and oily fish days on Tuesday and Fridays. Making it specific days has made it so much easier to maintain the habit rather than letting it fit in ‘whenever’ during the week.
  • Approaching the menopause has changed my eating habits to include less starch. Most women become sensitive to starch as they get older and can have an expanding waist line effect! In its simplest terms my meals are ‘meat and two veg’ which gives a wide range of possibilities.
  • Also coniferous vegetables are fabulous for balancing estrogen so broccoli, kale, spinach are all stables to my diet (also known as dark green leafy vegetables)
  • These days I rarely follow a recipe. I cook the freshest ingredients I have in the fridge varying the cooking methods i.e stir fry, roasting etc and the spices I use. Not everyone’s family will love it, some might not even notice you are no longer using recipes!
  • Leftovers and making freezing foods are the two most underrated tools in healthy eating. It is usually easy to make an extra few portions of dinner for someone lunch the next day. Perfect when you know you don’t have a lot of time the next day to cook dinner.
  • Batch cooking. Some days it’s as simple as making today’s dinner on the hob and cooking tomorrow’s dinner in the oven. When I have more time I might make a few meals that can be frozen to create a wee stockpile in the freeze. I generally do this in advance of a busy week
  • Lastly I always have a plan b in the freezer or cupboards for lunch and dinner. Just in case whatever we were planning for lunch/dinner is out of date in the fridge or if I’m too tired to cook. This tends to be a little bit more on the processed side as it’s cooking straight from frozen. However as it’s a one off and better than a takeaway then I’m quite relaxed about it.

Supermarket shopping

  • When I food shop I’m looking for the freshest veggies I can find. If I know I don’t have a lot of time I will buy prepared veggie (Check for no added extras! Knobs of butter are easy to move before cooking) or frozen veggies.
  • Low starch, high fiber veg is top of my list as are dark green leafy veg which is fab for balancing hormones. Variety is key to ensure a wide range of vitamins – a rainbow of colours is what we are looking for in your shopping basket
  • Vegetables with starch content is great for replacing rice or pasta as we still do need starch for energy, sweet potatoes are one of my favourites.
  • Whatever meat I’m buying I always make sure I have the leanest cuts. Again variety is good not just chicken everyday! For convenience I usually try to buy the meat packaged as I want to cook it so stir fry strips or chunks for stew, bigger cuts for roasts etc. Organic is best if you can afford it.
  • Always read labels. Even if it’s a product you buy often check the number of ingredients. Rule of thumb: if it’s over 5 ingredients it’s heading into the ‘processed foods’ category. The ingredients are listed in order of volume, so salt & sugar should be low down the list. Also check the portion size versus what you are planning to eat as it’s easy to make assumptions that the product is a serving size when it may be half the product.

Fussy foods

  • I love bread but I’m really fussy about it. I found a fabulous artisan baker close by and I buy bread from her. One small sourdough loaf will last just a few days due to the fresh ingredients and lack of preservatives. Scrambled eggs are just not the same without a wee bit toast, so I make sure it’s good quality bread!

Daily foods and weekly treats

  • Categorising foods into ‘daily’ foods which are highly nutritious and satisfying and weekly treats which aren’t so much! Healthy eating often comes down to mindset. I know I can eat whatever I want just not every day! So if I fancy something and it fits into a ‘weekly treat’ rather than ‘everyday’ food then I will wait until the weekend and see if I still fancy it. Chances are the fancy will have passed by then! Again it’s a way of trying to reduce any impulse buys by deferring it.

Wise Women Tips

Know what you have in your kitchen before hitting the shops

  • Automate where possible certain days to the week to certain food groups i.e. Fishy Friday!
  • Always read the label
  • Buy foods to support and nurture your body
  • Eat a rainbow of colours and have as much variety as you can in your food to receive a wide sweep of vitamins and minerals
  • Enjoy your food and eat the odd treat now and then. Food is to be enjoyed!

‘The secret to healthy eating’
Is to be knowledgeable about healthy eating  from the ‘experts’ and then keep what works for you and get rid of what doesn’t. When you read my list, some will resonate and some wont, because we have different lifestyles, commitments and priorities.
You are the only expert on your body needs. What it easily tolerates, what it doesn’t and what nurtures you. Work it out, keep doing it!

Samantha Valand is the founder of Wise Women Wellbeing Academy.

A comprehensive hub of resources on hormone balancing, healthy eating and exercising in your menopausal years and beyond.