Shop smarter. Eat better. Here's how

Our nutritionist Freda Molamphy on the balance you need (in shopping and life) and how to get it right


When it comes to food shopping, it’s always best to plan in advance. Stepping into store knowing exactly what you’re looking for means you’ll shop efficiently rather than wandering around seeking inspiration.

  • Decide on your meals for the week. This gives an idea of ingredients that can do double duty: for example, beef mince could be bolognese one day, koftas the next. It also means you can think about leftovers; have grilled salmon for dinner one night, then the next day use what’s left in a salad or poke bowl.
  • Make note of everyday items that require replenishing: milk, butter, eggs, tea, cheese, nuts, canned goods. Check if you need to refill freezer standbys such as frozen veggies and berries, pizza bases, bread and ice.
  • Look to see if you’re running low on household items like cleaning products, toiletries and pet food.

The right approach

Turn grocery shopping into a pleasurable experience. After all, it has to be done, so you might as well learn to enjoy it.

  • Aim to avoid shopping when you’re hungry (this often leads to unhealthy, impulse buys) or when you’re pressed for time which, as we know, is stressful.
  • If you can, shop when the store is likely to be relatively quiet – this tends to be in the morning and mid-afternoon (before the rush after school and work).
  • Once you’ve made your shopping list, divide the products into sections – fresh, dairy, meat and fish, frozen – so that you only need to visit each area once.
  • Wearing comfy clothes and shoes will make the experience more pleasant – walking the aisles in high heels is not fun. And personally, I’ve always found pushing a trolley much more restful than lugging around a small but heavy basket.
  • Incorporate a treat element into the shop. For example, reward yourself with a sit down and coffee afterwards.

"I’m a big fan of omega-3-rich oily fish such as mackerel, sardines and salmon. Studies show they can help prevent cardiovascular disease, prostate cancer and dementia, and they’re also a very good source of vitamin D and protein."

Putting together a balanced list will depend on your lifestyle; obviously an active family with children will have different requirements to a single person. In summary though, all baskets should include:

1. Plenty of fruit and vegetables. The wider the selection the better – definitely try to include iron-rich leafy greens such as kale and spinach.
2. Starchy carbohydrates such as bread, cereals, rice, pasta and potatoes. Choose wholegrain or wholemeal options where possible.
3. Good-quality, calcium-rich dairy – think milk (always choose whole milk for children), cheese and yogurt.
4. Sources of protein – depending on your diet this can be in the form of meat, poultry, fish, eggs, pulses, nuts and seeds.

There’s also a place for treats in any diet, as long as the quantity and portion sizes are appropriate. Steer clear of very sweet foods that have long ingredients lists, opting instead for simpler, more natural choices such as homemade goodies or items freshly baked in store.

My secret weapon

"I always have Greek yogurt on my list. Not only does it contain valuable protein, calcium and good bacteria, it has so many uses. It’s great as a salad dressing mixed with mayo and mustard, I use it for hummus and dips and I love a baked potato topped with Greek yogurt and some chopped spring onion."

If you have a question about how to plan and carry out your shopping trips, head to our social media channels and #AskSpinneys.