Supermarkets are both incredibly fun and incredibly stressful in equal measure. Fun because who doesn’t love to eye up the deals on biscuits? And stressful because we know we probably shouldn’t buy a month’s supply of Oreos just because they’re 50p per box (seriously, who else has spent an inordinate amount of time looking at the food we know we probably shouldn’t buy?). But, biscuits aside, we thought we had our supermarket shop down pat, whether it’s an Ocado delivery to the door or a trip to Sainsbury’s, our bags are usually filled with a healthy proportion of healthy foods.
Or so we thought. We caught up with Ella Allred, a Nutritional Therapist and founder of New Beginnings, to find out what a nutritionist buys at the supermarket each week. Needless to say, we’re rethinking everything. Keep scrolling to find out how an expert tackles weekly shopping.
The Fruit and Vegetable Aisles
Fresh is best, according to Allred. “Eat a rainbow of fresh food. A particular favourite of mine right now is sweet potato,” says Allred. “It’s high in beta-carotene, [which is] essential for healthy skin and a good immune system. You can make chips, wedges, even lasagna with them.”
Allred also recommends stocking up on cabbage, “not just for eating, I use it for juicing. It helps if you’re having any gut issues; it’s really healing and soothing. By juicing cabbage, you’re removing the fibre, which eliminates the chances of wind and bloating. Use it as a base for smoothies and shakes.
“I’m into anything green right now—broccoli, kale, lettuce. Onion, garlic and leeks are rich in sulfur, which is detoxifying for the body.”
60 to 70% of my shopping is done in the fruit and veg aisles.
As for fruits, Allred recommends low-sugar options like berries, cherries and pears. “The only exception is bananas, as one of these in the evening can help you sleep.”
Allred has a 7-year-old child, and she lets her choose one new thing from the fruit and veg aisle, and she encourages you to do the same. “It’s good to try something unusual, all you have to do is Google to find out how to cook it!”
"Dates are high in sugar but are okay every now and then if you want something sweet that’s nutritious. You can blitz them with nuts to make snack balls.”
Lastly, Allred suggests buying organic where possible. But if you can’t afford to go 100% organic, buy organic foods that tend to get eating by pests, as these will have been sprayed with pesticides if they’re not organic. “Buy organic berries and tomatoes, as they tend to be quite heavily sprayed. Mushrooms, leeks, garlics and onions don’t tend to have many pests.”
The Fruit and Vegetable Checklist:
Sweet potatoes ◻
Fresh herbs ◻
*Buy organic where possible, but especially these.
The Chilled Aisles
“First off, I buy coconut yoghurt, it’s really nutritious and contains medium-chain fatty acids, which are good for brain health. I’m not big into dairy, I buy coconut or almond milk, you can get calcium from sources other than milk,” says Allred.
Love cheese? Allred says the best one to have is feta. “Goat and sheep milk is more similar to human breast milk than cows milk and easier to digest.”
[Ed note: If you are going to buy cow’s milk, make sure it’s whole and organic. This ensures that it goes through less processing to get from udder to bottle. Worried about calories in whole milk? Don’t be. 100ml of whole milk has 64 kcal versus 35 kcal in skim.]
I don’t tend to buy anything with more than one or two ingredients
“Check out the fresh chickpea pasta in the gluten-free section, it is rich in protein and complex carbohydrates, which means it will release energy slowly and give you an extra protein boost to keep you fuller for longer.”
When it comes to meat and fish, Allred recommends wild Alaskan salmon, grass-fed meat and organic chicken.
“Plain organic bone broth is good for the gut, and you can either use it as a base for soups or just drink it.”
The Chilled Checklist:
Milk (coconut or almond) ◻
Feta cheese ◻
Chickpea pasta ◻
Wild Alaskan salmon ◻
Grass-fed meat ◻
Organic chicken ◻
Organic bone broth ◻
The Store-Cupboard Aisles
The two-ingredient rule is the same for the store cupboard buys, too. Ready-made pasta sauces are packed with sugar, salt and additives. Allred recommends stocking up on passata (liquid tomato purée), which you can add herbs and vegetables to create your own sauce in no time.
“Eggs are a nutrition powerhouse and really versatile, so they are always on my list.
“Whole organic rolled oats can be found in my cupboard, along with nuts and seeds. I use almond flour for baking and always have a supply of cacao powder. I also buy nut butter, but I only choose the ones that are 100% nuts.
“Dried lentils and beans are a healthy source of protein. I always have packets of them in my cupboard at home, as they are really cheap and nutritious.
While Allred doesn’t eat bread herself, she recommends that if you like to buy bread, opt for rye. “Rye bread is certainly a better option to wheat bread. Rye is a more nutritious grain than wheat, and it takes longer to digest.”
As for other carbs, Allred stocks up on the chickpea pasta as mentioned previously. As for rice, she says that’s fine to eat, as long as you choose whole grain rice. “It contains extra fibre and takes longer to digest, keeping you fuller longer and supporting healthy bowel movements.”
“For quick and easy treats, I buy dark chocolate that is at least 70% cacao; these will be richer in antioxidant flavonoids. Avoid refined sugars; treats sweetened with fruit juice are better.”
The Store-Cupboard Checklist:
Dried herbs and spices ◻
Whole organic rolled oats ◻
Nuts and seeds ◻
100% nut butter ◻
Dried lentils and beans ◻
Rye bread ◻
Whole grain rice ◻
Dark chocolate (at least 70%) ◻
The Freezer Aisle
“I stock up on frozen wild Alaskan salmon. I’ll also buy peas, as the frozen ones retain more nutrients than fresh peas.”
The Freezer Checklist:
Wild Alaskan salmon ◻
When it comes to cooking, Allred relies mostly on steaming or slow cooking her food, as these methods help to retain more nutrients. “I go to the supermarket to buy ingredients to cook with, rather than ready meals.”
Next up, seven hero foods for a flatter stomach (according to nutritionists).