Ok, so this may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t actually think about the concept of how grocery stores are laid out.
The fact is, the easiest way to eliminate processed foods from your life is to not buy it! Even if you feel that you cannot afford organic or farm fresh food, shopping along the perimeter of a grocery store is the most efficient way to avoid buying processed junk and pre-packaged meals. Cook from scratch whenever possible, and shop from fresh/real food departments only.
This rule applies even when shopping at a “natural” food store. For instance, even when I’m shopping at Whole Foods, I make sure to stay mostly on the perimeter of the store. The inner isles of a store like Whole Foods are filled mostly with organic junk — processed and packaged foods that are labeled and marketed as “organic” or “all natural”, but are still bad for your health if you actually look into the ingredients. Because of this, my Whole Foods shopping trip usually consists of stopping at the following areas: produce, meat, seafood, nuts/oats/grains (bulk bins), frozen bread (only for the frozen sprouted bread and bagels), & dairy. Occasionally I’ll shop in the isles, but only when I know what I need, and I make sure to go straight to get what I want & get out. The only times I’ll shop in the isles are if I need cooking oils, spices/herbs (including salt/pepper), sugar, or canned tuna (wild caught and BPA free cans!). And that’s pretty much it. Everything else I try to avoid buying whenever possible.
These simple rules are seriously what keeps me eating mostly high quality/fresh foods only, and helps to eliminate the processed junk that I used to eat so much of.
“Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”
― Michael Pollan