Do you consider the grocery shopping a dreaded chore? Wait until the cupboards are bare before you start writing the market list? Do you give in and just eat out? Well, sticking to a healthy diet is easy when you go with a list.
Many people only make the trip to the store out of fear of starvation. And once you get to the market, you aren’t suffering for choice. It can be completely confusing. So here are some tips to help you stay ahead of the game.
1. Plan what you want to eat for the next week, then build a list based on your menu. Stick with it. Planning and sticking to the list saves loads of money in the long run.
2. Shop when you aren’t hungry. This is probably one of the most valuable tips. Hunger fills your cart with items that aren’t on your list. It also makes you irritable and makes the entire shopping experience miserable.
3. Don’t buy items that are “on special” in the weekly circular, unless it is an item you already use. Do you really need those 4 items for the price of 2? Many times, you will either get sick of what you purchased or the item goes past its expiration before you get to it.
4. Don’t shop after work if you can help it. There is nothing worse than shopping amongst people that are tired, irritated, hungry and want to go home and have a drink. And it makes for a bad experience waiting in long checkout lines.
5. Shop around the perimeter of the store. All the processed and foods are in the stacks. The perishables, vegetables, fruit, meat, and dairy are always around the perimeter. Always start in the produce section. Shopping the perimeter promotes a much healthier diet than the shopping in the stacks.
6. Observe where items are positioned in the store. It’s no mistake when the candy and the cereal are together on the same aisle. The items that are marketed to children will be on their eye level and the ones marketed to adults will be at shoulder level and above. Product placement is big business in the market with a premium being spent by food companies to get items placed between waist level and eye level.
7. If avoidable, don’t shop with children. It takes much longer, is harder to concentrate and you will inevitably leave with Coco Puffs, a Hot Wheel, or other items that were not on your list.
8. Consider store brands. I recently came across a steal with a store brand. A pasta that was dirt cheap, from Italy, and organic. Actually reading the label brought this to my attention.
9. Read labels. If a processed item has ingredients you don’t understand, or know their purpose, or can’t pronounce, it may be best to skip that item or find a suitable substitute, or cook from scratch.
10. Shop in the bulk section for whole grains. Bulk products are less expensive, because you aren’t buying the fancy packaging. You also can purchase the amount you need, not the amount the manufacturer found most profitable to package.
Bonus Tip: Bring you own bags. There are dozens of reusable bags to choose from. Finding ones that meet your needs is very easy these days. We like anything that cuts down on waste.