Healthy lifestyles start with a bit of planning. To hit the ground running, we’ve found a savvy shop can set you up for a strong week that will hopefully turn into long-term habits.
Ever at your service, we decided to put together a shopping list of store cupboard essentials and fresh foods to get you started if you’re interested in eating like a King and unsure where to start, inspired by requests from our friends Vicky, Jo and Marie.
We shop at Tesco and Aldi on a weekly basis with regular visits to Holland & Barrett, local health haven One Planet in Accrington and Amazon for those harder-to-locate superfoods. Most of the things listed here are easy to track down so it’s not one of those lists that makes your eyes glaze over with annoyance at yet another obscure ingredient you’ll never use again.
Everything here is designed to be used in multiple healthy recipes to save you time and hassle.
Stocking up – store cupboard essentials
- Quinoa – simply the world’s coolest grain (as long as you pronounce it right)
- Brown rice – while we’re yet to convert our rice-fiend friend Mark to the brown side, it’s much easier to digest and packed with fibre and other essential nutrients which are stripped out of the white stuff during the refining process
- A nut butter – we love almond and cashew as well as that old classic PB
- Tahini – our local Tesco doesn’t stock this finger lickin’ good sesame seed paste (bad form Accy) but many do. Locally, we buy ours from NH Foods, a continental supermarket/wholesale place in Accrington which is also a great place to bulk buy spices, rice and oils. Fellow Hyndburn health nut Jade recommends PK Foods in Blackburn and I frequented a similar joint in Radford when I lived in Nottingham. They also stock tahini in the food bit of Oswaldtwistle Mills
- Dried herbs and spices – turmeric, cinnamon, paprika, chilli powder, cumin and mixed herbs are a good place to start (and you can sub fresh for dried in most recipes). Top tip: usually cheaper in world foods aisles than the spice section
- Raw cacao powder – one for the bakers and anyone with a sweet tooth. The purest form of chocolate, it’s a must for healthy baking though not essential if you don’t anticipate whipping up a sweet potato brownie in your first few days of healthy living. Buy from Holland & Barrett or Amazon
- Dried fruit – dates, figs, raisins and prunes are handy for healthy baking and snacking but check for added sugar and see above if you don’t plan on baking much
- Rye bread – we love gluten-free (bye bye bloating) Biona bread with smashed avo, eggs or hummus for quick, easy weekend breakfasts and weekday lunches. Find it with the wholefoods rather than the bread aisle
- Beans and pulses – chickpeas for easy homemade hummus and any combo of other protein-packed options for veggie burgers, stews and more
- Chopped tomatoes – for chillis, stews and healthy homemade pizzas. Fresh is good if you can be bothered, but chopped will usually do just fine
- Oats – we don’t go gluten-free but you can if you’re coeliac or intolerant
- Coconut oil – cook with it, bake with it, oil pull, use it on your skin and hair as a moisture-giving elixir, the benefits are seemingly never-ending for this health hero
- A natural sweetener – we use honey, agave and maple syrup for baking and drizzling
- Apple cider vinegar – v handy for salad dressings, tons of recipes and you can even use it as a toner if you’re into your natural beauty (warning: less is more. Chaz tried this once before a BodyCombat class and stank the studio out. Still, handy way to ensure no-one encroaches on your high kick space, right?).
- Almond milk – a lot of people are allergic to or intolerant of cow’s milk, many don’t even realise it and we’ve both felt better since going dairy-free in the milk department. If you’re sticking with dairy, go full fat. It’s more natural, keeps you full for longer and more often than not the fat removed from low-fat products is replaced with sugars or chemicals. Ew.
So fresh and so clean – basic shop
- Lemons and limes – use for seasoning, as a salad dressing and start the day with a hot water and lemon. Just so many benefits
- Sweet potatoes – roast them for an hour with paprika, cumin and cinnamon as wedges to accompany just about everything, oven bake for a healthier alternative to your traditional j-pot, make veggie burgers out of them, mash ’em, whizz up a big soup for the week or even turn them into brownies – see cacao section above for recipe
- Avocados – ignore fad dieters telling you they’re full of fat (you’ll find at least one of these per UK workplace), they’re nutritional powerhouses that taste incredible with a sprinkling of s&p, chilli flakes and a squeeze of lemon or lime. Amazing for your hair and skin, they’re loaded with vitamins and are even a source of plant protein
- Kale – it’s the leaf du jour for good reason. Board the bandwagon and reap loads of health benefits. Full post coming soon
- Bananas, berries, apples and other seasonal fruit– for snacking and bircher toppings, frozen berries work well in smoothies
- Spinach – make like Popeye and chug it down in green smoothies and big salads, wilt it into various recipes for a vitamin overload and bask in the smugness
- Carrots – dip in your hummus, make soup, bake cakes or cookies, pimp your porridge and see in the dark.
You can of course buy loads more than this if you’re keen as (organic) mustard, or you can build it up gradually rather than buying in one fell supermarket swoop, but it’s a decent place to start and gives you plenty of potential. If it seems a lot, remember this is just to set you up and most weeks you won’t buy all of the store cupboard stuff.
Images from Tesco online and Pinterest