UNITED STATES─There were both good and bad things that have come out of this pandemic. For starters, I have been doing much more cooking at home. On the flipside, I’ve wanted to eat out a bit more from doing so much cooking at home. So it is a double edged sword. We all know, and it is no absolute secret that fast food or any food eaten outside the home at an establishment for the most part is not that healthy. However, how many people do you know who can literally go weeks or months without having a craving for fast-food or eating a meal you didn’t prep? Well, perhaps health guru’s, but I don’t fall within that boat.

Eating healthy is a challenge, but it all starts with what you purchase at the supermarket. Perhaps the biggest advice I received from my parents that I am also going to give to you America: never shop while you are hungry! There is a reason people say this because everything you see will look or even taste good in your opinion. Eat breakfast, grab a snack, that way you’re not tempted to pick up things just for the sake of wanting to place something into your mouth to satisfy your craving.

With that said, make a list. A list goes a long way because you tend to stick to it. If you don’t have a list you will simply just pickup things for the sake of picking them up. In doing so you tend to go over budget at the same time and you don’t realize it until you calculate those expenses at the end of the month. So we have talked about some tips when it comes to shopping, but let’s talk about the tools of the trade with healthy eating. Someone once told me if you cannot pronounce the name of the items that you’re purchasing than you should be buying it.

Yes, it holds true, but at the same time it’s almost impossible to look into someone’s refrigerator, pantry or cabinetry and not see some form of processed foods. Here’s the key, just because you’re purchasing some processed foods should not mean you have to follow the tools of the trade. You could make fresh peanut butter, but most people will not do so. When it comes to various boxed rice and starches think about the things that are more beneficial to your overall health. Sodium might be the biggest problem so many Americans face.

Why? Sodium or for those of you not in the know, I’m referring to salt. Salt is in everything and we’re not supposed to consume large amounts of it to begin with America. This is more so in processed foods, lunch meats and packaged snacks. Yeah, we’re going to consume such things, but that does not mean we have to actual stock our homes with such items.

So this brings me to why the farmer’s market is such a great place. Not the best for your wallet depending on the region you live in. However, fresh is best. Stock your home with dishes that you can craft using fresh fruits and veggies. I always thought it would be a great idea for a cooking show that focused on comprising dishes (appetizer, entrée and dessert) that uses a specific veggie or fruit as its staple. Just an idea just in case someone is thinking of something unique. Don’t overbuy on the fruits and veggies America because they don’t have the longest shelf life in the fridge. However, they tend to be a bit more affordable than a lot of the processed foods we purchase on a daily basis. I mean you can likely compose a delicious salad for a family of four around $5 or $6 with plenty of veggies and fruits along the way.

The same applies for fresh meat, fresh seafood, fresh cheese (quite costly) and the deli. I love the deli section because the taste of fresh lunchmeat always wins in my opinion versus consumption of something that is already processed and wrapped. Yes, there might be some sodium in those products, but what are you going to do America. Purchase meats, seafood, deli meats and cheeses that don’t break the bank. Yes, there are items a bit more expensive than others, but you can always find suitable options.

I love a salty cheese, but instead of purchasing Feta cheese that is already crumbles, I purchase a huge block that is a lot cheaper and crumble it up myself. Look at it this way, with eating healthy, you can find a way to utilize some of that money you saved to purchase some more healthy items. Eating healthy is all about psychology. You have to train your mind to eat healthy, and if you do that you will start to practice that mindset. Will it be easy to do? No, but the more you make it a habit it becomes the norm for you. Your body will appreciate it and your mind will as well.

Written By Zoe Mitchell