Grocery shopping is by far one of the most stressful things that I do. I feel so incredibly torn between my desires to feed my family a real, whole-food diet and my family’s finances (which have been in a state of flux over the last two years). I find myself battling negative self-talk and guilt the entire time I’m at the store. I liken it to multiple personality disorder. The two voices in my head fight over buying what is healthy and buying what is more affordable.
Inevitably, they both lose, and I just feel crummy. The words pop up on the card reader, “Amount OK?” and I just want to scream, “No! This is not okay! I’m over budget, again!!”
I come home feeling miserable about how this isn’t the healthiest choice or daggonit I spent too much on this healthy product.
I make a thousand tiny choices and feel like none of them are really good enough.
I wish I could give you a tidy list of ways to make this easier. But the only answer I have come up with is compromise. Every trip to the store I compromise something – the budget on this item, the health on this item. I end up with a shopping cart that looks something like this:
What you’ll see here is a lot of compromises. There’s organic milk and sprouted grain bread – but also Kix and Chex.
Processed food may not be the best, but for families dealing with serious stressors, sometimes they really come in handy and can be sanity savers.
We started this series for moms who can’t feasibly be 100% fit or 100% healthy 100% of the time and feel frustrated by that fact. So I want you to know that it’s okay. I’m right here with you, trying to make good choices for my family (and my family’s finances) and trying to do the best that I can.
For our family, we try to avoid the following:
- High fructose corn syrup
- Artificial sweeteners (including Splenda, Sucralose, and aspartame)
- Hormones and antibiotics (in dairy products – we cannot afford to always make this choice with meat)
- Canola oil
Yes – there are many other things that we could avoid (such as GMO, other preservatives, and chemicals). But these are the things I have chosen for *my* family to avoid. The decisions you make for yours are your decisions and just as commendable.
Now, I’d like to share with you some of the choices I make at the store that are better, healthy-ER – without being completely unaffordable on a tight budget.
1. Simply chip products. I have been highly impressed with this healthy(er) line of FritoLay chip products, to include Cheetos, Tostitos, and Ruffles. They are made with organic ingredients, expeller-pressed sunflower oil, sea salt, and other easily recognizable ingredients. There is no MSG or artificial colors or preservatives.
2. Hormel Natural Choice Deli Meat. I buy this deli meat almost exclusively. It is more expensive, but not as pricey as the organic brands. No nitrates, only natural preservatives. Pricing can be more tricky and is inconsistent between stores. I find it the cheapest at Walmart and Target (as low as $2.99 a package). Here at my grocery store it was on sale for $3.49 a package. At certain stores, I’ve seen it as high as $4.99. So shop around if you want to try this product. (They also offer bacon, but the last time I bought it, it was $7.99 which isn’t very affordable for us.)
3. Annie’s products. Katie did a great job last week highlighting some of Annie’s Organics snacks. You’ll find another satisfied mom here as I give a shameless plug for their line of regular, organic, and gluten-free macaroni and cheese. My philosophy is that if I’m going to do an easy convenience meal, I’m willing to pay more for healthier ingredients, and Annie’s delivers. Their products are also GMO-free, which is worth paying a little extra for.
4. Dole Fruit Cups (in 100% juice). Sometimes making healthier choices isn’t necessarily about buying a different product, but just about reading the labels. With most fruit products (such as canned fruit, apple sauce, and fruit juices) there are many options. Sugar-laden, lite or no sugar added (which means it uses artificial sweeteners), or 100% fruit or fruit juice. We buy applesauce whose ingredients are apples and water and fruit cups resting in 100% fruit juice. These are super handy for packed lunches or when you are out of fresh fruit…again.
5. Van’s Gluten-Free products. If you have to avoid wheat or gluten like we do, Vans is another great choice. I’ve never had a product of theirs that I haven’t liked. We frequently buy their waffles, cereals, and crackers. No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives and free of GMO oil. These products will run a little higher than the average product, but they aren’t outrageously priced either.
6. Stonyfield Organic Yogurt. We love the YoBaby and YoToddler packages – our son eats yogurt nearly every day. Great flavor choices and they are sweetened with organic sugar. I also love their vanilla yogurt topped with some fresh strawberries and blueberries when I’m having a sweet craving. Stonyfield products are free of pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and GMO.
7. Chobani Greek Yogurt. This greek yogurt is high in protein and is only sweetened with evaporated cane juice. You can find this in 15 packs at Costco for a very reasonable cost!
If I can encourage you (and maybe encourage myself in the process):
Baby steps…baby steps…baby steps. I think many moms struggle between the healthy and affordable extremes and feel like they are constantly losing either way.
Remember the core beliefs I mentioned in my first post. I can be healthier today than I was yesterday and Health and fitness success is accomplished by the little choices. I hope that this post has given you inspiration for some of those little choices and baby steps forward.
Also, be sure to follow our Faithful Fitness board on Pinterest where we share great workouts, exercises, health and nutrition tips, and more!
Faithful Fitness is a weekly series dedicated to getting fit faithfully, one step at a time. Whether you are a SAHM, working mom, struggle with a chronic illness, and/or have time constraints for fitness, this is the series for you! Be sure to check in here each Friday and to follow our Faithful Fitness board on Pinterest where we share great workouts, exercises, health and nutrition tips, and more!