Do you walk into the grocery store and become immediately overwhelmed? Do you want to fuel for performance but don’t have a large budget? I got you, girl! The grocery store can be intimidating but it doesn’t have to be like that! Check out my free weekly grocery store list for athletes and other tips below!
This week’s blog provides a weekly grocery list for athletes and tips for your weekly grocery store trips so you can easily fuel to meet your training and performance goals.
Below I have broken down this week’s blog into 3 main phases to help you avoid being overwhelmed at the grocery store! ( And so you don’t put it off for 3 weeks… hint hint)
- Before You Go: Building a Weekly Grocery List
- At the Store: Mindful Shopping on a Budget
- At Home: Proper Storage of Your Groceries
Each one of these phases has tips and tricks for you to maximize your weekly grocery trips!
Before You Go: Building a List
Build a Weekly Grocery List
The first step for your grocery store adventure is simply writing a weekly grocery list. Building a list is one of the MOST important things to help you stay focused and on a budget at the grocery store. A weekly grocery list provides a structured approach and plan of action.
To begin your list, to do when planning a list is figuring out what type of list works best for you. You can write it down on paper or use the notes on your cell phone. If you are struggling to know where to start, check out my free grocery list template.
Check the weekly ad
When building a grocery list within your budget look at your grocery store’s weekly ad for the best deals. The weekly ad can be found on the store’s website or at the front of the grocery store. You can easily google your favorite grocery store to find their weekly ad.
^ This being said – Trader Joes does not have a weekly ad. They have the “Fearless Flyer” that highlights seasonal food items and sometimes items that are on sale.
The weekly ad is great for showing you what is on sale and for the categorization of your list. It can be overwhelming at first but the weekly ad is simply organized by the food categories in the grocery store. Each grocery store is different in where they place products but all food products should be categorized with like items.
You can easily follow this design when building your list. I recommend planning out your meals first and building out your list from the ingredients.
Recommended weekly grocery list categories
- Packaged Items
- Frozen Items
Starting with Produce
I recommend starting with fresh produce (fruit and vegetables). By starting your trip (and weekly grocery list) with the produce section, it encourages you to fill up your grocery cart with nutrient-rich foods to help with immunity, recovery, and gut health.
Special tip: The produce on sale at the grocery store is going to be “in-season”! In-season produce are fruit and vegetables that are being grown in their optimal growing season so they are extremely nutrient-rich and tasty.
Using the weekly ad as your guide, build out your meals to include in-season produce that is extremely nutrient-rich and a good value. The in-season produce is going to be on sale!
Next, check out the meats and all the consumer packaged goods! Seeing what items are on the weekly ad helps to spark some menu & meal prepping ideas.
Plan your meals based off of what is on sale
As mentioned above, plan your meals for the week based on what you see on sale. After you plan out your meals, check out your pantry to see what items you already have in stock. (You know you have ended up with 6 cans of unused black beans in your pantry!)
Next, write down additional ingredients you need for each of those meals that you don’t already have in your pantry. Make sure you check your pantry and refrigerator first as you don’t want duplicate items that go to waste!
At the Grocery Store: Mindful Shopping
Have you ever heard the phrase “shop the perimeter”? There is some truth in that!
Shopping the perimeter of the grocery store allows you to fill up your cart on fruits, veggies meat, fresh bread, and dairy first. Start with produce and fill up your cart with fresh fruits and vegetables, especially focusing on in-season produce! Like mentioned before, the produce on sale will be the items that are in season.
Dairy (and Dairy Alternative) Tips
Let’s move onto the dairy (and dairy alternative) section!
Dairy and dairy alternative products are extremely important for competitive soccer players like yourself. Dairy/dairy alternatives contain a mineral called calcium which is essential for strong bones. Making sure you have strong bones is necessary for you to be a strong athlete and avoid broken bones/fractures!
Cow’s milk is a great source of protein. Dairy alternative milk options (almond, cashew, oat) contain calcium but not much protein (usually 1-2g per cup). I find many athletes make this mistake and want to make you aware of it so you can fuel properly!
When looking at both dairy and dairy alternatives, yogurt is going to be a great source of protein that you can include in meals or snacks. I recommend following the easy guideline of more protein than sugar to make sure your yogurt is appropriate for fueling!
An easy example of this is Siggi’s or Fage yogurt. When you check the nutrition facts on the back, they contain more “protein” than “sugar”. I always recommend this little guideline on both dairy and dairy-free yogurts. Dairy alternatives are sometimes a little bit more challenging and I recommend aiming to choose a brand that is as close to 10g as possible.
As a competitive soccer player, protein is SO important. It’s imperative that you get enough protein to fuel your workouts and to maintain and build muscle – you need more protein than the average person! When shopping for meat, make sure you focus on lean meats like chicken, turkey, lean beef, fish like salmon, tuna, and cod, and eggs. In particular, fatty fish is a great addition to your diet because it provides a good amount of protein and is loaded with Omega-3’s (an anti-inflammatory healthy fat).
Eggs can also be fantastic because they are easy to cook and are super versatile. While lean meats should be the primary focus of your protein consumption, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a steak, a few ribs, breakfast sausage, or bacon on occasion. All meats can fit into your diet – try out new cuts of meat (breast, thigh, shoulder, loin, the list goes on and on) and see which ones you like. During sales, load up on your favorite cuts and freeze whatever you don’t use for times when you’re in a pinch or don’t feel like going to the store. Remember to check the best by or expiration date as meats can go bad quickly!
For meat alternatives, check out the freezer section for options like meatless meatballs, veggie burgers, “beef” crumbles, and so much more. Tofu, tempeh, and seitan are in different locations depending on your grocery store, but check out the produce section or the specialty diets section!
When shopping for meat alternatives, make sure to check the package ingredients and nutrient label to ensure you are getting a natural product. Just because it is vegetarian doesn’t mean it is a natural product or one appropriate for fueling!
In the Aisles
The central aisles of the grocery store have a bad reputation but I am here to tell you they are not as bad as you think! A majority of grains and starches are going to be located in the center aisles. As a soccer player, these need to be included at every meal!
There are a ton of foods that need to be included in a weekly grocery list for soccer players in these aisles. It can be easy to get overwhelmed in all of the packaging and food items but this is where your weekly grocery list from before comes in!
Athletes should look for
- Whole wheat/whole grain pasta
- Marinara sauce (and other sauces) with minimal ingredients
- Whole wheat/grain bread, bagels, pita bread, and English muffins
- Pinto, black or garbanzo beans
- Canned vegetables and fruit (avoid seasonings + sauces)
- Whole grain cereals (Kashi, Barbara’s Puffins)
As a busy athlete, frozen foods are going to be your best friend. But I am not talking about Lean Cuisine; I am talking about frozen proteins, frozen fruit & vegetables, and healthy breakfast items (whole wheat waffles, breakfast sandwiches). I suggest purchasing items that are not previously seasoned so you avoid some of the additives and other add-ins.
As a busy athlete, you are constantly going to be on the road and frozen foods are a great option that won’t go bad (how many times have you thrown out that bag of spinach?). By preparing and having back up frozen food items, you have no excuses to fuel properly!
Recommended frozen foods
- Green beans
- Onions (THIS IS A MUST)
- Berries (blueberries, strawberries)
- Potatoes (without sauce or seasoning)
- Pre-cooked rice
- Chicken breast
When You Get Home: Proper Storage
Prevent food waste with proper storage
It’s sometimes easier to section off your food at the checkout, so similar items are in the same bag (remember to bring those reusable bags!) which saves time when you get home. Try to match up the food categories like on your weekly grocery list! Keep produce together, refrigerated items together, and dry goods together – unpacking everything will be so much easier.
Getting refrigerated products into your fridge within the hour is most ideal. You can also invest in an insulated reusable grocery bag if you have a long drive home. This will help keep your food items at their best quality!
Below I have provided a quick list for proper storage of some common food items.
Foods to keep in the Fridge
- Leafy greens
- All-natural peanut butter
- Opened pasta sauce
Foods to keep on your Counter
- Bread products
Foods to keep in the Pantry
- Dried goods (oatmeal, rice, beans)
- Canned items
- Dried fruit
- Unopened pasta sauce
Get your stuff in the freezer ASAP! Freezer burn (the frosty ice on some of your frozen products) occurs when items melt and are re-frozen. In order to maintain nutrient quality and taste, prioritize putting frozen stuff away first!
If you have items you know you won’t eat for a few days or weeks, make sure to pop it in the freezer too. Almost all meat proteins can be frozen. I highly recommend buying meat proteins in bulk when they are on sale and keeping them in the freezer for future use. These frozen items can be dethawed at any time and will keep their peak nutritional value as well!
To get you started at the grocery store, here is a free template weekly grocery store list for athletes. This template provides a guideline for building your own weekly grocery list from the weekly ad that allows you to dominate the grocery store.
This template weekly grocery list includes a lot of the foods mentioned above and the structure ensures you stay within your budget. If
Let me know below if you download the list and try it out at the grocery store. Happy Fueling!