Grocery shopping usually won’t make the list when you ask most people how they like to spend their free time. In fact, many people consider it to be a chore that brings unwanted feelings of stress and frustration. How can you take stress out of the equation so you can navigate the supermarket with ease and make healthy decisions for your weight management journey?
Helpful Grocery Shopping Hacks
Crowded check-out lanes, screaming children, too many options… oh my! It’s no wonder so many people procrastinate their next trip to the grocery store. But if you want to succeed in the nutrition department when it comes to weight management, you’re going to have to shuffle around your priorities. These simple tips can actually make grocery shopping fun and rewarding!
Schedule a Designated Time Slot
Saturday and Sunday afternoons at the grocery store are bound to see hustle and bustle. Most people do their rounds when the work day or work week is over and there’s plenty of free time to tackle remaining responsibilities. If busy supermarkets leave you feeling overwhelmed, try shopping mid-week, early morning or late evening. Stick closely to this time slot!
Give Your Children a Goal
If you’re juggling the responsibility of watching young children while you shop, try giving them a goal so they aren’t wandering aimlessly. Ask them for help identifying healthy, whole foods and picking out new items to try. If you want your child to learn more about nutrition, teach them about nutrition labels on food packaging. Get them involved in the shopping process!
Never Arrive without a List
Always bring a shopping list with you so you have a firm guide to stick to. Without a list, you are forced to search your brain for all the different foods and ingredients you need. You are also more likely to purchase tempting snacks and goodies. Try making your list ahead of time or adding items as the week goes by. When you remember an item (or a recipe) you need, write it down!
Snag those Deals… and Look for Them!
Load-up on food items when you find them on sale. This puts less stress on your wallet and less stress on YOU! Search for deals in your local newspaper as well as on your supermarket’s phone app — if they have one. If you can’t find deals before you arrive at the store, scan the shelves when you get there. You may find discounted items or even ones that are “Buy One, Get One Free!”
Shop the Perimeter of the Store
You will naturally find that a store’s perimeter carries the healthiest foods (i.e. fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy options). The middle aisles typically carry more processed foods with added sugar, fat and carbohydrates you might be trying to avoid. Plan your shopping route to visit the perimeter first! Then venture into the middle sections for miscellaneous items afterwards.
Frozen Foods are Okay
Many misconceptions surround frozen food as “lesser quality” food. While this can sometimes be the case with pizzas, frozen meals and calorie-heavy snacks, there’s value in many other frozen items. For instance, frozen fruits and veggies are a great option if want your produce to hold for a longer period of time. You can also find plenty of lean meats and proteins in these isles. Just make sure your products aren’t loaded with heavy sauces and creams that are added for flavor.
Eat before You Jump in the Car
If you’re hungry in the grocery store, you’re more prone to feelings of stress and unwanted food cravings. Before you even hop in the car, make sure you’ve eaten a healthy, well-balanced meal and have had plenty of water. In fact, bring a bottle of water with you to stay hydrated and prevent any anticipated need for snacking while you’re out and about running errands.
Look Beneath You… Literally
Many grocery stores place brand name foods at eye level so they are easier to sell. This brings in more revenue for the store and its food retailers. If you’re okay with shopping for generic brands, look toward the bottom shelves for cheaper items that will spare your wallet.
And Finally, Speed it Along
Wait, isn’t rushing through the grocery store a recipe for anxiety? Well, yes – but there’s a trick. Don’t rush the grocery shopping process so fast that you pile-on the pressure and struggle to keep up. But on the other hand, don’t take so long scanning items and products that you second-guess your choices and feel tempted to buy more. Aim for a moderate and balanced pace.
Contrary to what many believe, grocery shopping can be a fun and rewarding experience that motivates you to make healthier food choices. Nutrition is one of the building blocks for weight management, so if you can nail down grocery shopping basics, you have a foundation for success!