Having a good grocery shopping routine is key to a healthy lifestyle. Studies do show that the more food we eat outside of the home, the more we seem to weigh. Eating out also is linked to less fruit and vegetable consumption1. So preparing food at home is essential for our health and wellness and it all starts with grocery shopping. Some people love to shop for food, while others dread the crowded grocery stores or seem lost in what to get.
Keep reading for 5 tips on how to navigate the grocery store so that you can revamp your next trip:
1) Have a Plan
Nothing is worse than showing up to the grocery store and wasting time trying to figure out what you need. Before going to the store, think about what meals you’ll be having this week. Maybe you’re making a pasta dish on Thursday night, need more berries to top your yogurt for breakfasts, and some spinach for your salads for lunch. Also try thinking about what food is in season right now. In Japan, it is common for supermarkets to offer produce that is only seasonal for peak flavor and nutrition. Figure out what seasonal ingredients you need by planning what food you’ll be eating this coming week.
2) Know What’s In Your Kitchen
We’ve all been there- we get to the store, grab that jar of pasta sauce, and then can’t remember if you already have a jar at home. Before heading to the grocery store, make sure to do a quick scan on your pantry and fridge to check on what you already have. You might realize you need to re-stock on some staples or that you already have some food that you can utilize in your meals this week. Not only will this cut down on your food waste, but you’ll also be saving money in your food budget.
3) Make a List
This is probably the biggest tip that you can use when going to the grocery store. “Winging it” without a list makes you forget what you needed, purchase items you already have, or make impulse buys. Once you plan your meals, try making a list that you can bring to the store with you. If you struggle with going all the way to the store or feel lost and disorganized, you can always shop online for delivery or pick-up. Shopping online for groceries is actually very popular in the country of China. It may be an extra cost, but it can save you a timely trip to the grocery store.
4) Stick to the Perimeter of the Store
Once you are in the grocery store, you may feel lost or don’t know where to go. A good rule of thumb is to stick to the perimeter of the store in order to choose healthier options. Chances are, the unhealthier items such as processed and packaged foods in the middle aisles of the store. Usually the fruits, vegetables, meat, seafood, dairy, and fresh bread will be at the edges of the grocery store. If you are trying to choose healthier groceries, try to stick with this rule.
5) Don’t Go On an Empty Stomach
Even if you have a list and have planned out your meals for the week, going grocery shopping on an empty stomach can be a detrimental to your trip. Your hunger can influence you to make impulsive buys that’ll hurt your healthy eating plan as well as your wallet. Choose a snack that is a protein and fat source such as nuts, cheese, yogurt, or hard-boiled eggs before shopping to satisfy any cravings you may have. Follow these tips and you’ll be a grocery shopping expert in no time!
- Seguin, R. A., Aggarwal, A., Vermeylen, F., & Drewnowski, A. (2016). Consumption Frequency of Foods Away from Home Linked with Higher Body Mass Index and Lower Fruit and Vegetable Intake among Adults: A Cross-Sectional Study. Journal of Environmental and Public Health, 2016, 1-12. doi:10.1155/2016/3074241