Grocery shopping is one of the main points of eating healthy, and staying healthy. If you’re not eating right, then you can’t really keep your body healthy.
So in this article we’re going to talk about, and give you the best couple’s grocery list possible – the healthy one, with the most nutritious options we could find.
We’re also taking into account the differences between men and women when it comes to nutrition, as we did with the 10 day meal plan – you can find the meal plan here. We’re also going to talk about what you should focus on the most when going grocery shopping.
Let’s focus on the grocery list itself. It will be grouped into food types, and below it you will have some pointers on what to avoid when shopping for food.
This list is very focused on nutrition and whole foods, so the majority of the meals will be cooked from scratch.
You can download this list and use it as you wish, and you can also pin it on your Pinterst board by clicking on it.
Table of Contents
What should you focus on when grocery shopping ?
Knowing what to focus on is just as important as what to buy. The main 3 points to keep in mind are:
Going for whole foods, whole carbs, low-sugar, lean protein, fresh veggies. The point is that you should focus more on how that particular food helps your body and maintains your health.
If you’re working out intensely, you’re going to want to take into account the goal you want to achieve. If you want to put on more muscle mass, then you’ll want to focus on lean proteins, and whole carbs. Veggies are necessary as well, but the protein and carbohydrates are what will help your muscles build.
The protein helps literally build the muscle. The carbohydrate gets transformed into the glycogen you need in order to have energy for a more intense workout. Which is needed when you want more mass, so there’s that.
If you’re aiming more for lowering your body fat percentage, the first step is lowering carb intake. Then, insisting more on protein and veggies or legumes. You still need some carbs, just make sure they are whole carbs, like wholegrain pasta, brown rice, multigrain bread, and so on.
The reason behind this is that carbs are easily transformed into body fat unless you use them fairly fast. So if you want to reduce body fat, you’ll want to lower the carbohydrate intake in your diet.
2. How often you cook
This is going to dictate how often you shop. We stock up for an entire week, and cook almost daily. Some foods keep longer than others, so take into account when in the week you want to cook that food.
Pantry and freezer storage space is also important, so you have a regular rotation of fresh foods there as well.
For example, you can cook in a larger batch in the weekend so you have food for the next 3-4 days (depending on what you make). Whatever raw food is left you can portion, cut, peel, wash, and then store into the freezer so you can cut down on cooking time during the work week.
We do this with meat and vegetables. When we buy for example a whole box of chicken drums, we bake all of them at once, so that we have about 3 days’ worth of food prepared. Whatever we don’t cook we wash and clean, then store in the freezer.
Along with that, we take out a bag of flash-frozen veggies like broccoli mix or peas, and steam those as needed since the prep and cook time is minimal (10-15 min).
Your case might be different, depending on how much time you have at home, and how much of that you can dedicate to cooking.
3. Difference between men and women
The table below has our recommended plating percentages, and applies to daily food, but especially with cooked meals. This table is not mandatory, but it’s the method we use for our own food.
The whole point of that table with the percentages is to help guide you towards a healthy plating method, which will take into account the different food needs of women and men.
This is because on average, women are better at using their body fat for fuel, and as such would benefit more from a lower carb intake as long as the healthy fat intake is higher – like avocados, omega 3 and 9 supplements, salmon, olive oil, and so on.
Another thing to keep in mind is the size difference between men and women. There are definite height, weight, and build differences in a couple, and those must be take into account. Even if you and your partner are of the same size and weight, there will still be a metabolism difference.
Men’s metabolisms are generally faster, which means they will burn through their food quicker. That leads to needing larger meals overall, in order to maintain themselves.
What should you always have on your grocery list ?
As you’ve seen, we divided the grocery list into several parts, and given you a whole range of options to choose from.
However some foods are there instead of others for a reason. Let’s break down the list a bit.
It could be meat, or eggs, or tofu, or whatever you like. Protein is important to have in your diet at all times because it’s what helps your muscles rebuild after a workout.
It is necessary for your muscles’ health even if you lead a sedentary life and don’t do intense workouts.
So make sure you include it in your meals, and aim for something around:
- 56 grams/day for the sedentary man.
- 46 grams/day for the sedentary woman.
That is the minimum amount, and must be adjusted accordingly if you are a very active person.
2. Whole carbohydrates
Carbs are often frowned upon when you’re looking to live a healthier life, or even lose some weight. But not all carbs are bad.
You’re aiming for whole carbs, as opposed to refined carbs. This is because the fiber in carbs is usually stripped from refined carbs. You need the fiber in order to digest your food as best as you can, and to feel full when eating.
There are also many vitamins and minerals that are lost when the shell of the grains are removed.
So carbs are alright, as long as they are whole carbs, and kept at a reasonable level.
3. Vegetables and Legumes
We recommend getting fresh vegetables whenever possible. However, sometimes it’s not possible to use them properly since some of them go bad fairly fast.
Vegetables can also be found frozen, and we buy them regularly. Just the simple ones, with no added sauces or glazes or condiments. Frozen broccoli, peas, soup mixes, and whatever we find useful.
As for legumes, like lentil, beans, chickpeas, peas, we usually buy them canned. If you have the patience to work with dried legumes, then even better. All you have to do is soak them in sufficient hot water and leave them overnight, then cook them the next day.
The canned versions need less cooking time, but are often poorly processed, so make sure you buy from a brand you trust. Preferably organic and kept only in brine.
What to keep off your healthy grocery list
It might be a bit of a hassle, since there’s two of you and you might like different things, even if you both eat healthy. But some food stuffs are better left behind if you’re aiming to stay (or get in) in great shape. Here they are:
- Canned meals – like canned soup, canned meat products. The only exception to this is the tuna or legumes cans, if you’ve found some quality products.
- Frozen meals – like frozen pizza, cakes, lasagna, mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, TV dinners, pancakes, and so on.
- The vast majority of sweets, chocolates, cookies, cakes, ice cream, and what is heavy on sugar.
- Refined carbs – refined white flour, white bread, white sugar, regular pasta, nearly every donut and muffin and cake.
- Pre-made sauces – like salad dressings, ketchup, dippings, etc. They often contain sugar and starch ingredients that aren’t necessary for the taste.
- Soda and alcohol – the soda because of sugar, alcohol because of the extra calories it carries.
You can make most of these at home, for a fraction of their cost at the supermarket, if you rally want to. For example a very good dipping sauce is actually guacamole, or even just simple avocado garlic paste.
Even home-made hummus ends up better than store-bought, since you’re in control of the ingredients and you can mix them however you want.
The same goes for salad dressings, and actually everything we just listed above.
Why is a shopping list necessary ?
You could argue that you know what to get from the store anyway, why use a shopping list ?
The thing is, when you’re going up against a supermarket’s smart layout with no plan beforehand, you’ll fail. The supermarket most often greets you with bright colors on the fruit and vegetable section, then not very far from that you’ll find the smell of fresh bakery.
Worse, right after that you’ll usually find some pre-made food like fries and rotisserie chicken, with some other foods that might convince you that they’re necessary.
So you end up wandering the aisles with half a cart full of nothing that you wanted to get in the first place, but smells so good or is on sale and you’re kind of hungry as well.
So a shopping list with some solid healthy food strategies will help you out. For example:
1. You’ll avoid overspending
Since most sweets and carbs look and smell great, it’ll be hard to resist them unless you have a very good plan beforehand.
So we recommend a shopping list exactly for this reason. It will help you focus on what needs to be bought, and will help you breeze past the baked goods section with ease.
One thing to remember though, is that it’s important to leave yourselves room some ‘luxury’ foods, which may include some carbohydrates, even in a small dose.
For example dark chocolate (85% or higher) ends up being a carb, which will help you avoid overspending on sweets in general.
Having a set amount and type of meats will help you not go for the holiday turkey if it wasn’t on the list, despite everyone and their mother scrambling to get it since it’s on sale.
The same goes for the other types of foods on your grocery list. Once you know what you need to get, you’ll find shopping much friendlier towards your wallet.
2. You can track your budget easier
Keeping the grocery lists for each week will help you in several ways.
You’ll be able to figure out what you need each week, and how much of it as well. Comparing that to the receipts for each grocery trip will tell you how much your food budget is per month.
You can see some very interesting things like that, for example you may notice that about 30% or your groceries are cold cuts, and you might need to cut back on those.
Or, you could notice that each week you spend a lot on individual yogurt cups, and you eat them very often. So you’d get a better deal of you just got yogurt packs for the entire week. This was our case, since yogurt is one our favorite snacks, and we have a stock of them in the fridge at work.
You might find out something different from your grocery list and receipts, but the idea is always the same. You can optimize your budget in that direction if you want.
For example after doing this for 2 months (to allow for more data), we noticed that our food budget for the entire month is around 30% of our income. This is allowing for date nights, eating out, and splurging on some more expensive cuts of meat.
This way we can plan each month’s total budget, knowing how much we need for what.
3. Not buying unnecessary stuff
Have you ever walked out of a supermarket with a blender and 2 new pillows, when you just went in to get some chocolate and light bulbs ?
This happens to many people, but maybe not to that scale. Some items end up in your cart because they’re on sale, and you figure you’ll find some use for them, whether it’s new spoons or a 3-pack salami.
Having yourselves a grocery list that tells you exactly what to get in order to eat healthy will not only save you from buying unnecessary things, but also from piling sweets and soda out of reflex.
Dragos and I had occasional slip-ups when we noticed only at the cashier that we put into our cart cookies and a few frozen croissants, or some other food stuff we said we’d let go of.
Those moments are when our resolve to eat healthy was tested, and we had to look at our grocery list to see if any of those items were on. Obviously they weren’t, so we had to put them back.
Maybe you’ve come home with 3 extra bags of chips and dippings as well, just for emergency or in case you have guests over, you’d tell yourselves. But we all know how those bags disappear in the end.
One thing that helps a lot, along with having your grocery list well thought out, is eating before you leave the house. Shopping on an empty stomach will lead you to overspending, even if you’re not buying food.
You can buy whatever you like, even if you find some alternatives we haven’t listed on here. For example asparagus is a wonderful alternative to broccoli, but often overpriced when not in season. In Europe it even triples its price.
Or you can substitute lettuce with baby spinach and ruccola, or whatever salad-type leaf you like.
As long as it is nutritious, and you like the taste, go for it.
We hope this article, and especially the list, was helpful to you. Feel free to look around our blog, you might find other article you might like.