Let’s face it, grocery shopping can be pretty intimidating! All of the brands, products, variations, types, and nutrition labels can often leave us the shoppers overwhelmed and confused.
What should you buy?
How much do you need?
Is it even healthy?
These are just a few of the questions that can run through a shopper's mind. There is also have a variety of influencers telling us what we should be buying. From the media, friends, family, and doctors, everybody seems to have an opinion. We do need to ask ourselves, are these individuals qualified and or educated to provide their advice, or is it just their personal experiences driving their advice?
Time to clear all the confusion!
Here are some tips and tricks to make your grocery shopping a success!
Let’s get started!
First, when starting to make any lifestyle change, starting small is key. Develop a SMART Goal (read our article on Behavioral Change), it will only strengthen your intentions! This will help set the tone during the grocery store visit. A goal helps to determine what kinds of foods are needed and what food to pass on. It doesn’t matter if the goal is to lose weight or eating healthier, develop a purpose to shop.
Find a Grocery Store
Once the goal has been identified, find a grocery store nearby! A “fancy” grocery store for healthier options or better products is definitely not always the “gold standard”, a local grocery store works just fine! No need to spend unnecessary money! Plus, this will bring a sense of comfort and familiarity during the experience. It helps to have an idea of where to look, instead of scrambling back-n-forth to find one thing!
Make a List
Next, to help facilitate a successful grocery haul, making a list is essential. Yes, a list! This will provide a clear reality of what items to pick up. Take time to formulate a list. Once the list has been developed, only buy what is on the list! Make a commitment; no list, no shopping! Without a list, our minds will be triggered by instinct and you’ll likely select foods that are not needed. Therefore, a list can eliminate any “extra” items being added to the cart. Don’t get us wrong, sometimes we forget to list a few items and that’s okay! Ultimately, the goal is to take the guessing out of the grocery store visit. List it, purchase it, control it!
Eat Before Shopping
Before leaving the house, it is important to fuel up! Don’t go to the grocery store on an empty stomach! Our brains use glucose for energy and if the body is low, normal functions start to become altered. Trouble concentrating, brain fog, and irritability are some common symptoms of low glucose. When mixing these factors with grocery shopping, individuals can alter their original goal, thus leading towards not sticking to the plan. The mind needs to be focused, aim to consume 1 serving of veggies, healthy fats, and protein before the visit! Protein and fats aid in satiety while veggies provide the essential micronutrients needed.
Time to Shop
Now the shopping has begun! We highly recommend staying around the perimeter of the grocery store. This is where the majority of the essential items are located. The perimeter of a grocery store houses fresh fruits, veggies/starches, proteins/dairy, healthy fats, and frozen items (fruits/veggies). The middle aisles can become a danger zone! The inner aisles are known to house highly processed and frozen processed foods. Practice avoiding these foods! A good rule of thumb is if a product is made up of more than 5 ingredients, put it back on the shelf. Aim for whole food options! Look to add quality foods to the cart. Whole foods contain quality micro and macronutrients. Whereas processed foods contain limited quality ingredients. Now, there are some essentials that are found in the middle aisles but be sure to stick to the list. Grab what is needed, checkout, and go. To help this, enter and exit the same side of the aisle. This eliminates opportunities for grabbing unnecessary items while wandering down an aisle. Grocery shopping should be relatively quick. No need to linger around. Stick to the list and the visit should be 45 minutes or less.
When selecting the quantity of a particular item, it is important to have a good understanding of who the food will be cooked for. Cooking for 1 or a whole family? Understand the party size and this will help to not overbuy fresh and perishable foods. Don’t purchase items you’ll end up throwing away! Also, take into consideration the activity levels of yourself and whomever you are cooking for. This can help influence the quantity to purchase. Another helpful tip is to determine how often you plan to grocery shop. If you shop multiple times a week you can purchase more fresh produce. On the other hand, if you only shop once a week or later, you might want to consider purchasing only a handful of fresh produce and look at frozen veggies, so they last longer! A tip for this is to opt for the smaller grocery cart over the large one.
Trick or Treat?
Grocery stores like to play tricks and games on how they organize shelves or where they place certain items. Do not fall for it! This is why it can be helpful to shop alone. Now, that’s not always feasible with children. So parents beware! Grocery stores typically put sugary and processed foods right at kids' eye levels. The bright and colorful labels will attract kid's attention, so be aware! Remember, stick to the perimeter of the grocery store and only shop for what is needed! Also, be aware of the “big” sale items. Just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean you need to buy it. As mentioned above, start small and make gradual changes after mastering the original goal. In time, you will be on your healthy ways and reaching your continual goals!
Last but not least, have fun! Enjoy the process, knowing you are going to fuel your body for success should help facilitate a positive experience! Share your experience with other, family, kids, friends. Get everyone involved! Sharing experiences can help enlist a positive change for someone else. Spread the knowledge!
Take homes: If you follow these simple steps you are sure to have a successful grocery haul!
Have a goal
Find a store
Develop a list
Eat before you shop
Shop the perimeter
Watch out for the tricks