A visit to the supermarket can be the turning point for what you will eat for the week. Planning and preparation is one of the most important steps in managing your diet, to make healthy choices and having the right food available.
Having good food choices available means you will be less likely to skip a meal, or settle for unsuitable, convenience foods.
Everyone approaches grocery shopping a little differently but a weekly or bi-weekly shop can help you plan meals, reduce incidental food purchases and will give you more time during the week to focus on life and training.
For athletes, a heavy training load makes it even more important to be organised when it comes to food. Having access to healthy options at home is a great way to kickstart your healthy habits.
Setting out a shopping list
Start by writing out a shopping list including all the main food groups for healthy eating.
Then add detail to these groups so there is a range of ingredients available to make up any healthy balanced meal to suit your meal plan.
Below is an example of how to set out a shopping list and some tips. Add this type of detail with brands or amounts to the key macronutrient areas below to create your checklist of what you need to have in the kitchen.
Remember you may not need to buy each item every week. Occasionally if you have space you can buy in bulk. Stock up pantry items and nonperishables every few weeks as needed. If freezing meat, freeze in portion sizes serves so it is ready to cook once defrosted.
Carbohydrates – Majority whole grain / high fibre
- Bread – buy a few loaves and leave some in the freezer for toast
- Cereal – combine a variety of high fibre, wholegrain, and/or oat based cereals
- Pasta – dry or fresh / wholemeal / Gluten free
- Rice – basmati or brown, 90 sec rice bags / wild rice
- Low fat noodles – dry, rice noodles / long life and hoikken
Protein – Lean varieties
- Beef – buy in bulk then trim fat and cut into portion/serving sizes before freezing
- Chicken – buying breasts in bulk from the deli can be cheaper, wrap each breast individually and put in the freezer so you can use one by one rather than defrosting the whole amount
- Other lean meats – pork loin / butter fly steaks / lamb
- Dozen free range eggs
- Tofu or tempeh
- Legumes or lentils – canned or raw
Low fat dairy generally has more protein and calcium than full fat varieties and is better around training. Check ingredient lists to find any added sugar; not all low fat has sugar added.
- Milk – Light or skim, + variations = coconut, soy, almond.
- Yoghurt – Low fat natural and natural set.
- Cheese – Low fat ricotta or cottage cheese, low fat cheese slices or sticks.
Make sure to get a variety of colours.
- Fresh vegetables – Rotate vegetables from week to week so you don’t keep eating the same ones, try new vegetables you may not have had before or purchase what is in season for the freshness, also checking they are from Australia.
- Frozen vegetables – So there are always some vegetables available, use these as a quick addition to incorporate in any meal, especially a stir fry or pasta dish.
Frozen vegetables can be just as nutritious, if not more so than fresh vegetables that might be a bit old and soggy.
Aim for two pieces a day for seven days, or around 14 pieces of fruit a week.
- Fresh fruit – seasonal fruit such as apples, oranges, pears, bananas, melons, nectarines, grapes, mandarins.
- Fruit tubs – have these as a reserve if fresh fruit runs out or for something on the go.
- Frozen fruit – frozen berries or mango are great to add to smoothies or yoghurt.
Pantry items / Non-perishables
- Canned foods – tuna, salmon, diced tomatoes, baked beans/spaghetti, chickpeas, corn, beetroot.
- Crispbread – such as Vita-weat, Salada, rice/corn cakes.
- Stir fry sauces – soy/ oyster/ teriyaki/ sweet chilli.
- Olive oil – spray oil, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil.
- Condiments – Dried herbs and spices, salt & pepper. Spreads and pastes like chutney, pickles, tomato paste, Indian and Thai pastes, balsamic vinegar, jar of minced garlic/ginger.
- Flour – Plain and self raising flour / cornflour.
- Nut/seeds – pepita/almonds/LSA – add to snacks or salads.