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Grocery Shopping Tips

nutrition tips Apr 22, 2018

The pantry and fridge are cleaned and organized if you followed last week's Kitchen Spring Cleaning! You’ve thrown all the junk out and, hopefully, have made a list of some items that need to be replaced.

Download my free Busy Moms Snack List at the top of the page for help with what to put on your list!

The grocery store can be very overwhelming for all of us. Grocery stores can be challenging because they are designed to overpower your senses. Stores like Costco don’t even label their aisles because they want you to get lost and buy things you never intended to. Here are some tips to help you navigate your way through grocery shopping.

  1. Make a list … and stick to it!

    1. A list is a great way to make grocery shopping efficient and effective! It keeps you from adding extra, not so healthy foods in the cart. In turn, you save money by avoiding those impulse buys.
    2. For additional savings, check the local flyer or browse the website of the grocery store beforehand to see what is on sale. Many stores have apps you can download with coupons available within the app.
  1. Don’t go hungry

    1. Grocery shopping on an empty stomach can make it hard to resist the temptation of unhealthy items. Even if you make it through without throwing some junk in your cart, you still have to make it past the check out aisle with all that candy and chips! Have a satisfying meal or snack before you shop.
  1. Fresh produce first

    1. Load up on fresh fruits and veggies first. The different colors of produce offer different vitamins and phytonutrients, so make your cart colorful.
    2. When your favorite produce items go on sale, stock up. You can wash and chop them, put into individual servings, and freeze.
  1. Stock up on staples (minimally processed) 

    1. You may have heard to the perimeter of the grocery store and avoid the middle aisles because that is where the “junk” is located. Well, this is somewhat true. Yes, the perimeter has many great options like fresh fruit and veggies, meat, and dairy; however, the middle is not all that bad. You can find healthy pantry staples such as:
    1. Beans (dried or canned)
    2. Steel cut oatmeal
    3. Tuna
    4. Olives
    5. Nuts and nut butter
    6. Sauces (sriracha, low-sugar barbecue, enchilada, salsa)
    7. Vinegars (e.g. balsamic, apple cider, red wine, rice)
  1. Don’t get fancy, get back to  the basics!

    1. Opt for the plain yogurt and plain oatmeal. Add flavor at home with fresh fruit and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. This way you will avoid added sugars, artificial flavors, and colors.
    2. Skip the candy-coated nuts; instead buy plain raw nuts. Spices them up yourself - literally! Go into your spice cabinet for different flavor combinations.
    3. Roast pecans with coconut oil + cinnamon or cashews with grass-fed butter + curry powder. I personally enjoy it more than flavors I can find in the store.
  1. Check the label AND the ingredient list

    1. Most nutritious foods typically come without a label like fruits and veggies!
    2. Don’t be fooled by buzz words on products that are designed to lure you in. That would be things like: Fat Free, Low Fat, Sugar Free, etc.
    3. The top of the food label will note the serving size and how many servings per container, followed by the number of calories, fat, cholesterol, etc. in each serving size. The nutrients listed on the label are per the stated serving size. If the bag has two servings per container and entire bag is consumed then the calories, fat, cholesterol, and so on should be doubled.
    4. Reading labels is important, but it’s just as -if not more than- important to read the ingredient list. The ingredients are listed in order of weight. This means that the first ingredient is used the most, and the amount of the following ingredients descend in order from there. So, if sugar (or any form of sugar) is listed as one of the first ingredients, you may want to rethink that purchase.
  1. Remember the source and spend wisely

    1. Wild caught seafood, grass-fed beef, and organic produce are your best options.
    2. If these items do not fit into your budget (because they are more expensive and often don’t go on sale), no worries! Buy them when you have a little extra money to spend or stock up and freeze when they do go on sale.
    3. Check the freezer section for these items. They cost less than the fresh version.
    4. Wholesale stores are beginning to offer more and more organic options, so consider a membership if it makes sense for your family.
    5. Try to choose the organic option for any produce on the dirty dozen list. Buy all other fruits and veggies that are conventionally grown.         
    6. Shopping your local farmer’s market for produce is great for your budget and your community. You will find fresh, local, in season produce at a good price, while supporting local farmers.
  1. Be aware of marketing ploys

    1. One easy tip is to avoid items with cartoons on them. USUALLY these items are marketed to children and tend to be high in sugar… usually.
    2. Big brand names pay for eye level shelf spots in the store. Many of the healthier (and sometimes cheaper) items be found on higher or lower shelves.

Whatever you buy will end up in your pantry. Whatever is in your panty, you will eat. If you don’t want yourself or your family to eat it, don’t buy it! You are the one in control!

If you feel that you don’t quite have the self-control you wish you had, consider shopping at a grocery store that does home delivery or “curbside” pick up. More and more grocery chains are doing at least one of the two. There can be more cost associated, but you save yourself the time of having to be in the store - and also those frivolous purchases. During Thanksgiving, my husband and I were at home for a couple days since we had time off work. He asked where all the good snacks were. It was then that I realized I didn’t buy any junky snacks because I wasn’t tempted to. Buy having my groceries delivered, I only bought the items that I had on my list, and the only things on my list were items to make meals for that week.  

Realistically, getting started with all of these changes can take some time. Even if you clean out and restock everything “perfectly”, you may still end up needing to train your body/taste buds to eat better. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you mess up. It’s more important that you recognize it and get back on track!



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