Six Tips to Navigate the Grocery Store

I’m putting this out there… despite the fact I like healthy eating and trying new recipes, I dislike grocery shopping. I try to put it off for when I know the store will be less crowded, and I try to get it done as quickly as possible once I’m there.

To make sure that happens, and to make sure I don’t succumb to my massive sweet tooth while shopping, I do a few things:

  1. I never shop hungry. Every time I’ve shopped while hungry, I’ve come home with something I don’t need. It’s best to have a healthy snack before going to the store, or shop after a meal
  2. I shop with a list. Since I prefer to meal prep, and have a meal plan, that list is usually exactly what I need for the week. Not only does sticking to the list help me avoid those unhealthy cakes, cookies, and candies, it also saves money. I’m buying what I’ll use for the week, and nothing more
  3. I set a budget. Usually, when I’m meal planning, I have a good idea of what items will earn me grocery store points, and what items are on sale. Setting a budget also helps me stay on track. I can’t be tempted by the ready-made frozen lasagna if that $10 extra isn’t in the budget
  4. I stick to the perimeter, and pay little mind to the end aisles. Why? Because the perimeter is where you’ll find more of your lesser-processed foods, and end aisles tend to feature less healthy items (unless it’s a really good sale on canned black beans…). Basically, shopping with the idea that you want more produce, whole grains, and, if you’re a meat-eater, lean meats, means you’ll mostly stick to the perimeter of many stores anyway. The exception for me is always the aisle with the bags of beans, lentils, and other pulses and legumes. I don’t eat meat, so I do need to consider my protein sources.
  5. I walk to the grocery store. Realistically, not everyone has the luxury of being able to live in a walkable neighbourhood. But, if I know I can only fill my grocery cart with a certain amount of stuff, I have to shop mindfully, and leave space for the good stuff. I also shop in a store that charges extra for plastic bags (so knowing I’ll have to pay more just for bags is another way to ensure I don’t over-buy)
  6. I try to buy in season, and if not, frozen. People tend to avoid frozen veggies and fruit for a lot of reasons. But, when it’s the middle of winter, frozen can be not only more economical, but also potentially healthier. Plus, frozen berries are a great alternative to ice in morning smoothies. And frozen cauliflower adds an extra nutrient punch, and so much smoothness, with no after taste.

So, there you have it. While I do make it sound fairly simple, I spent a lot of time on trial and error as I discovered what worked for me and what didn’t.

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