Navigate your grocery aisles with confidence, not intimidation.
Endless options of any one type or brand of food can be daunting. And as dancers continue to experience financial strain throughout the novel COVID-19 pandemic, access to quality food options is made even more stressful. But how can dancers continue to fuel optimally despite these obstacles? After you dive into my 3 key steps, don’t forget to grab your free grocery guide below!
#1: Plan ahead
Tackle your grocery trip with a well-planned list. First, check the foods you already have in your cabinets and fridge. Then, build a list to fill the gaps. Keeping a checklist of supermarket staples on hand makes this easier (don’t forget to download your free sample staples list below!) Planning throughout your week also helps to save money. This is because you’re less likely to purchase foods that you already have or don’t necessarily need. Meal prep can make this step easier- here’s an article that walks you through it!
#2: Start with The Perimeter
Now that you’ve compiled a list, let’s plan your trip. Most supermarkets are built around a similar concept: refrigerators and freezers line the perimeter. This is meant to keep fresh foods cold, and thus safe for consumption without the potential for bacterial contamination. These foods often include: produce, meat, seafood, dairy, sprouted bread, and the items filling freezer cases.
Aside from preventing bacterial contamination, these options also offer a nutritional punch. Why? Because oftentimes, fresh foods are less processed and more nutrient-dense. (Side note: the nutrition facts label can help you decipher those nutrient-dense options, but you’ll first want to read this article to assess your use of those labels). Once you’ve scanned the perimeter, move into the middle aisles to fill your cart with pantry staples.
#3: Know Your Game Plan
You’ve built a list and perfected your navigation at the store. But what will you actually choose to fill your cart? Here’s some help:
From the Produce Aisle: Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals and side note: they’re packed with antioxidants. Antioxidants help to rid the body of free radicals, which naturally form during strenuous exercise. Another bonus? Fruits and veggies are high in magnesium and phosphorus, which both play a role in energy metabolism. #TTPTip: shop for a rainbow of colors. Look for a variety of these 5 subgroups: greens, reds/oranges, white (like cauliflower and potatoes), and blues/purples.
From The Meat/Seafood Counter: Animal-based protein contains all essential amino acids, which are required for the building and recovery of your working muscles. Incorporating proteins will help you rebuild from the natural muscle loss that occurs from strenuous dancing. Try sources like poultry, meat, fish, and eggs. Not to stress if you’re a vegan or vegetarian dancer. All essential amino acids can be obtained from your plant-based diet. You’ll just need to be extra aware of these (read more about it here!)
From The Dairy Case: Yogurt, kefir, cheese, and milk supply you with protein, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D. Each plays an essential role in building strong bones. Plant-based dancers need not worry as dairy-alternatives like soy- and fortified nut-based options help to supply these essential nutrients as well.
From The Bread Case: Shopping for bread can be tricky. Try sprouted options, which are often located in the refrigerator or freezer cases. You can also try a delicious freshly-baked loaf from your supermarket’s bakery. If choosing a packaged option, look for whole grains as the first ingredient listed on the label- you’ll feel a bit more energized from the fibrous grains and seeds.
From The Frozen Aisle: Frozen fruits and veggies are a TTP favorite! Not only are they budget-friendly, but these options are picked while in season- giving them a larger nutritional punch! They’re also just as nutritious as fresh fruits and veggies and (my favorite) they don’t spoil quickly! Just a note: look for options without added sugars and sauces. These will be more useful when incorporating them into your own recipes.
From The Snack Aisles: Legumes, oils, canned seafood (like tuna), grains, crackers, breakfast cereals, oatmeal, jars of nut butter, jams, nuts, seeds, and whole-grain crackers are all great options. Canned beans are a convenient, budget-friendly choice (just rinse before use)! When choosing a breakfast cereal, look for whole grains in the ingredient list. This will give you a boost in fiber, which keeps you feeling fuller throughout the morning. Last, look for nut- and seed butter with one or two ingredients (usually nuts and salt) to minimize your intake of added sugars and hydrolyzed fats.
Article written with the help from student Caitlin Alfano. Expert reviewed by Rachel Fine.