You can find “paleo” food at any grocery store.
You don’t need to shop at a health food store to buy high quality, whole foods that fall within a Paleo Framework.
Every grocery store has a produce section.
Most grocery stores have meat and seafood departments.
Yes, it might be easier to find some Paleo staples at a health food store, but it’s possible to do most of your shopping at a regular old chain grocery store, and probably even at the mom & pop grocery (if you live in a small town).
Here are my 5 Best Tip for Finding Paleo Staples at Any Grocery Store.
Shop the Perimeter (for the most part)
This is an oldie, but a goodie. Stick to the outside of the grocery store and avoid the aisles. The perimeter is where you’ll find all of the fresh foods like produce, seafood, meat and eggs. In ANY grocery store (health food stores included), the crap is in the aisles. The aisles are where you’ll find food in boxes and bags– food full of additives and preservatives– the foods you want to avoid ( most of the time) when you’re following a whole food lifestyle.
I do venture into the aisles from time to time to buy my paleo baking supplies like almond flour and coconut flour. You can also find your coconut oil, olive oil and ghee in the aisles of the grocery store along with canned sardines and tuna. Stick to the perimeter of the store for the most part and have a plan for the foods you need in the aisles.
Learn to Read Labels
When you do venture into the center aisles of the store, you need to know how to choose the best option. Most of the foods in the aisles will be in boxes or bags and all of the boxes or bags will have labels. Nutrition facts and ingredients labels.
Start with the ingredients (I don’t care so much about the Nutrition Facts). If there is sugar–in any form– in the first three or four ingredients, but down the box. Be on the look out for any ingredients that you can’t pronounce or that look like they might be chemicals. Sometimes natural ingredients might be listed in their scientific names, but usually a hard-to-pronounce ingredient is a not-so-good ingredient.
Be especially wary of boxes that say “natural” on the front. The “natural” label doesn’t actually mean anything– there are no regulations on the use of this word like there are around the use of the word “organic”. Foods that are labeled “natural” can have strange ingredients, or lots of added sugar (sugar is natural). You have to be especially vigilant about reading the labels on these foods– the front of the package is meant to mislead you, but the back of the package will not lie (or we hope it won’t).
Go for the Clean 15
The organic produce selection at most stores is getting bigger and bigger by the day. The more demand a store has for organic produce, the more likely they are to bring it in. You can find some organic fruits and vegetables at every kind of grocery store, but the selection is usually less than at a health food store.
When you’re buying produce keep the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen lists in mind. The Dirty Dozen are the 12 most chemical laden vegetables on the market– try to buy these organic to avoid over exposure to xenotoxins like chemical herbicides and pesticides.
The Clean 15 are the 15 cleanest fruits and veggies–and conventional is usually fine. My rule of thumb is if it has a thin skin or you eat the skin, buy organic. If it has a thick skin, conventional is usually okay. For example, when you eat kale, you eat the entire leaf, so I would try to buy this organic. When you eat a banana or an avocado, you peel it first, so conventional is probably fine.
Choose Lean Cuts
If you can’t find grass-fed or pasture-raised animals at your grocery store, go for leaner cuts of meat. Animals store toxins in their fat just like we do. So when you can only get conventionally raised animals, choosing a leaner cut is best. This means chicken breast instead of chicken thighs, and 90+% ground beef. Most stores have organic options, which can be a good choice, but when a meat is just organic, it doesn’t mean that they have access to grass or the outdoors– it just means that they are fed certified organic feed.
Always try to get meats that are anti-biotic and growth hormone free. It’s getting easier and easier to get these kinds of meats at all kinds of different stores.
If you can only find conventional raised meats and you’re not sure about where they came from, it’s not the end of the world. This might be a good time to look around for a store that does offer a wider selection of animal proteins, or to visit your local farmers market where you can talk with your farmer about how their animals are raised.
Make a shopping list before you head to the store. This way you’ll be less likely to pick up some of that junky food that looks so darn tasty on the shelf. Take some time to carefully build your list– think about what your week will look like in terms of food, what kinds of events you have going on, when you’ll need snacks. It might be helpful to look through the sales flyer and see if you have any coupons.
I like to use the MyMixx savings app from Star Market to make my shopping list. I can look at the sales and clip coupons on my phone, and keep my shopping list with me at all times so that I can add to it as I need to. The MyMixx app is one of my new obsessions because you can clip digital coupons (no more rummaging around in the bottom of your bag to find that tiny coupon), and they’re automatically added to your order at the register. The app also lets you opt in for digital receipts if you want to be fancy with your budgeting.
Be mindful when you’re shopping. Pay attention to labels and make sure that you read the ingredients.
What are your best tips for shopping at “regular” grocery stores? Share them in the comments below!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Star Market. The opinions and text are all mine.