4 Tips to Make Healthy Grocery Shopping A Painless Process
I have always disliked grocery shopping. I just want to run in, pick up what I want, purchase it, and get on with my life! If you’re like me and don’t like shopping, it can be tempting to make poor food choices when you’re in the grocery store simply to get out of there fast. It may save you some stress in the short-term, but the result is that the food available to you in your home is less healthy, and you live with the consequences.
When I tried Whole30, a diet that restricted my eating and made me read labels on anything that wasn’t a whole piece of fruit or a vegetable, I had to put a lot of time and thought into my grocery shopping. As a result, I developed some survival strategies for healthy grocery shopping that have made the whole process much more pleasant. I hope these tips can be useful, whether you are a shopaholic or avoid grocery stores at all costs!
At grocery stores, the outer edges are your friend. In many grocery stores, the meats, veggies, yogurts, fruits, and grains are sold on the edges of the store, with more processed food, snacks, and bakery items in the middle. Knowing this, you can plan a route through the store that hits mostly the areas where you want to be tempted (“Look how yummy that chard looks!”) rather than making yourself walk aisle after aisle of cookies and crackers. Obviously, there may be items you need in these aisles (salad dressing, for instance, helps me make the choice to eat salad more often), but if there’s an aisle you can skip, do it!
Note brands that comply with your goals. Since trying Whole30, I’ve developed a mental list of brands that have the healthy ingredients I want; I know which package of chicken sausage is reasonably priced and lacks additives, for instance, and I know which fruit juices are full of added corn syrup and which just blend up delicious fruits. If you have a dietary restriction like no dairy or gluten, or are just trying to cut out certain ingredients, knowing what brands work with your diet saves you so much time reading labels on each trip.
Shop the coupons online ahead of time, and put them on your list. Many stores now offer online coupons through an app on your phone, and you simply “activate” the coupons to use them. I use the Kroger app, but Whole Foods, Aldi, and other supermarkets also have them. This does two good things for me: I can decide what items to buy before I get to the store—which means I can make the healthiest decision because I’m not looking at 20 other displays of less-healthy options at the same time—and I can’t forget the coupons because they are loaded on my shopping card! I recommend making your list on your grocery store’s app (if available) for the same reason, but any list that lets you make notes of how to quickly get exactly what you want is a good one.
Give yourself a few “if it’s on sale” splurges. I tend to make sure I include a couple of options on my list – some brie, a pack of walnuts, mini-packs of guacamole for lunches – that I know I don’t need but would really like if they are on sale. This way, I find it easier to resist the many temptations of the grocery store because I’ve already built in some specific items that would be reasonably good for me, though a little less healthy than average. For me, it’s all about knowing what I want before I get to the store, even the items that might feel impulsive in another context.
Make it WayBetter
What would make your grocery shopping result in healthier foods in your pantry? Try a new way of making your list, a new way of walking the store, or a new plan for shaving time– anything that will make it easier for you to shop healthy!