Grocery Store

How To Grocery Shop During The Palm Oil Challenge

So you’ve decided to take the palm oil challenge and you’re headed to the grocery store to pick up your weeks worth of groceries. How do you shop and still remain free of non-sustainable palm oil. Well we’re here to help and to recap our shopping experience. Let’s jump right in to the how-to of shopping during this challenge. Before you set off you are going to need a few things.

1. Shopping List

This is probably the most important item. You need to know what your shopping for, especially if this is your first trip to the store since purging your house of non-sustainable palm oil products (Learn How Here). Having a list stops you from impulse buying. In our experience impulse buys are usually highly processed food items which are the most likely to contain palm oil. To help you with your own list here are the most common household items that contain palm oil (The list is thanks to The World Wild Life organization).

Knowing this list will help you make better choices at the store.

2. Smart Phone

You’re going to need a smart phone unless you are able to memorize all of the different names for palm oil. Use your phone at the store to look up the sneaky names for palm oil, here is a good list from Then you will compare that list to the list of ingredients on the products you are buying. There are two apps we have tried using, Palm Oil Detector and Sustainable Palm Oil Shopping, with mixed success (look for a review later this week). The list of chemical names for palm oil is still your best bet. You will also want to use your phone to access the WWF Palm Oil Buyers Scorecard to see which of your favorite brands use sustainable palm oil. Green is good, go ahead and purchase. Yellow is okay, find an alternative is possible. Red is bad, should be avoided.

3. Patience

Your shopping trip is going to take a little longer than usual. You will have to spend some time reading ingredient lists and comparing them to the list of palm oil names. Trust us, it goes faster each time.

Steps to Shopping

  1. Before heading to the store create a list. (If you known you use a particular brand do a little research ahead of time)
  2. At the store find the item you are looking for. (Fresh produce, meats, and most diary (not ice cream) is palm oil free)
  3. Check the list of ingredients against the list of common palm oil names.
  4. If an ingredient is on the list it has palm oil / If not then it is palm oil free and you can buy it.
  5. If it does have palm oil in it check the WWF Palm Oil Buyers Scorecard for the brands sustainability rating. If they are green go ahead and buy it.
  6. OR search for a palm oil free alternative.
  7. Enjoy a healthier and greener life.

How We Shop At The Store

With our list and smartphones in hand we peruse our local grocery store’s isles looking for the items on our list. Do note that fresh produce, meats, and most diary (not ice cream) do not contain palm oil so they are safe bets. When we find one of the item we are looking for one of us checks the list of ingredients for any ingredient listed on the Treehugger list of palm oil names. The more you do this the more you will begin to recognize names without the list. Another tip, if you see any ingredient with the word palm in it then it has palm oil in it.

We TRY to avoid palm oil but it can be difficult to find things such as dish soap that doesn’t contain palm oil. When this happens you have two options. First, use the handy WWF Palm Oil Buyers Scorecard to find a brand who uses sustainable palm oil and buy their product. Second option, do a little internet research for a product that doesn’t contain palm oil. You will be surprised where you might find palm oil free products. We found palm oil free dish soap at T.J. Maxx. The brand is called Begley’s if you are looking for a palm oil free alternative.

Our Take A Ways

Shopping trips do take a little longer than usual and I personally don’t like standing in an isle reading ingredients but it’s gotten easier the more I do it. Our grocery bills are about the same as before the challenge. We usually spend $90.00 a week on groceries and our last shopping trip cost us about $87.00. Our first trip to the store after purging palm oil cost us a little more, around $116.00, but that was because we had to replace everything we had just purged. We think that even though we are buying more expensive all natural products the extra cost is offset by the savings from completely removing processed foods that have no alternative. Overall, our shopping experience is the same and our diet is healthier without all of the processed foods in it.

-Mr. GGC


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