Transform your trolley

As part of Operation Transformation we’ve teamed up with Aoife Hearne and magician Joel Mawhinney to show how you don’t have to be a magician to transform your trolley.

Over the next six weeks, we are on a mission to transform Ireland’s trolleys with a healthier, balanced food shop.

Planning your weekly shop is key to healthy eating. Without a shopping strategy you might come home with a more than you bargained for - leading to wasted food or an unhealthy weekly shop.

Four steps to a healthy food shop

1. Check your cupboards, fridge and freezer

Check what foods you already have and plan to use up anything that’s getting near its 'use-by' date.

Check what's in your cupboard

2. Make a meal plan

What will you and your family have for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in the next few days?

A) Getting started

Make a list of the meals that you and your family enjoy – maybe it’s burgers or chicken fingers or fish pie. 

If you have never done a meal plan before, here’s a Five Day Meal Planner with recipes and a shopping list to help you get started.

To keep the food bills down, you can make the most use of the ingredients you buy and use leftovers for the next day’s lunch. So if you have roast chicken on Sunday, you could have chicken sandwiches on Monday or Tuesday.

B) The next step

You could do the full week and include all the meals, or just start with lunches and dinners for Monday to Friday.

Fill in just the main meals on your list for now, and move on to the next bit.

C) Perfecting the plan

This is where you plan for a healthy, balanced diet. Here are some general rules:

  • Eat two portions of meat or alternative source of protein every day. Twice a week your protein source should be fish – you can have it at any meal.
  • Eat three portions of dairy throughout the day – low fat is best.
  • Eat five to seven portions of fruit and vegetables every day.
  • Eat three to five portions of starchy foods like bread, rice, pasta or potatoes – wholegrain is best.
  • Go very easy on fatty, sugary foods like sweets and cakes – have a small treat once or twice a week.

All the information you need about portion sizes is here.

Have a look at the food that is on your meal plan so far. Are you having enough of each food group every day? Keep the balance of your diet in mind as you fill in the rest of your meal plan.

If all this seems too much, use our Five-Day Meal Planner where we have developed a healthy balanced meal plan for you.

3. Make a shopping list

At this point you should have a list of the food and drinks you need for the week.

Now it’s time to make a shopping list of what you need to buy. It’s a good idea to list each item under its food group as it will help you check again that you have enough of each type of food.

4. Do a visual check

When you go shopping make sure you bring your list and try to stick to it. Just before you go to the checkout do a visual check – see if any unplanned items have ended up in your trolley like treats or special offers. Check that fruit and vegetables are the main foods in the trolley.

Here’s a video of what you should be looking out for.


5 more tips to help you transform your trolley

1. Be aware of special offers - Only buy what’s on your shopping list. One third of foods on special offer aren’t that good for you.


2. Shop alone if you can - If you know pester power is an issue, try to avoid bringing children on the family shop.

3. Avoid shopping when you’re hungry - Have a small snack like a piece of fruit or popcorn to help you make better choices and to get to the check-out treat free.

4. Don’t shop when you’re tired or stressed - We tend to reach for the comfort foods to help us get through. Try to pick a time and a day when you’re under less pressure.

5. Know your food labels - Try comparing some of your favourite foods. You want to choose foods lower in fat, added sugar and salt. Read more about food labels here.


Our leaders go shopping

Healthy weight loss