Have you ever walked in the store with five things on your list but walk out with a full cart and $200 spent? I’m not talking about Target, I’m talking about the dreaded grocery store. Some love it, some hate it. It’s a necessary trip for fueling your body, but comes with overwhelming temptation and anxiety of what to buy.
Does this relate to you?:
“I’m going to be good this week. I’m starting the week with healthy grocery store run. I’m motivated. I got this!”
But later in the day you think, “I got off work and I’m so tired, plus I forgot to make a list, so I’ll wing it. No biggie, I know what’s ‘clean’ ”
“Oh look, there’s some good looking apple pies right when I walk in….OH GOD. I’ll get one. I’ve been good. I’ll load up on veggies too. It’ll balance out – still healthy.”
“Where do they keep the meat here? Oh yeah past the snack aisle. These Ruffles Lays look so good…. I can always rely on some Special K protein bars for some quick protein, so I’ll grab some of those too.”
“Oh and the peanut butter, I forgot the peanut butter. But while I’m on my way to the peanut butter, I’ll get this one box of wheat thins and some cheese dip for tonight’s snack. I’ll be good, only one box.”
“I feel confident in my decisions of what I picked up! Time to pay. But that candy bar next to the register looks pretty good and I worked out today, so I earned it. Still on track.”
Now you’re home and start putting it all away. After eating the bag of Ruffles Lays the entire way home. You realize that you barely need to open the fridge as most of your food is frozen or pantry worthy. Pizza, chicken tenders, corn, ice cream drumsticks, wheat thins, cheese dip, peanut butter, bread, sliced turkey, strawberries, apple pie, lays chips, special K bars, lean cuisine meals, butter popcorn, Kashi cereal and veggie chips.
You try to console yourself: “Veggie chips are healthy, right? Right. And the wheat thins are low fat too. Plus my Special K bars will help with my afternoon meal! Those chicken tenders will pair nicely with a drumstick after.”
Sadly, you realize that you had a ‘terrible’ trip and are now sinking slowly into shame as you failed at the grocery store. “I hate grocery shopping, I can’t figure out how to do this right.”
Well my friends, I want to give you four simple tips to help you SUCCEED while at the grocery store.
Eat Before You Shop
This is the number one golden rule: DON’T GO SHOPPING WHILE HUNGRY!
I’m not saying you have to have a five course meals before going in, but some type of food in the belly is good for decision making. A lot of unhealthy temptations will be avoided with a full stomach. We now know that being hungry can drive all sorts of unnecessary purchases.
Plan out when you will grocery shop after eating. Or carry around a small snack to hold you over before walking in the store.
Make a Plan
Making a plan is setting yourself up for success.
This can include:
- Grocery lists
- Shopping with a buddy
- Going at a certain time of day
- Or anything else that will help you in achieving a successful trip.
MAKE. A. LIST.
You have a lot of options here. You could plan out your daily recipes for the week with according ingredients. Or write a list foods as they pop in your head during the day. When in doubt, scribble on a sheet or in your phone while in the car before walking into the store.
If I know one thing in life, it’s if I don’t have a grocery list, all hell breaks loose. I leave with more junk food than healthy foods.
It helps to avoid temptation and foods that are marketed as “healthy.” Back in your clear-minded times, you wrote down what you knew was healthy. Now, looking at all these flashy colors of “health” foods, you start to get bombarded by the temptations.
Keep the list in front of you while shopping. Don’t fall into the trap of putting your list in your purse or pocket and go off memory. If you are doing that, what was the purpose of writing a list?
SHOP WITH A BUDDY
Reach out to someone to become your shopping partner. Someone that will not invoke shame. This person will help keep you accountable to your list and not perform the shopping cart dance.
SHOP WHEN IT’S BEST FOR YOU
Are you more tempted to buy unhealthy foods at night when rushed? Or do you tend to veer off when you have no agenda? Figure out what time and day of the week works for you, and stick to it.
Stick to the Perimeters, Go Through Aisles Last
You probably know your mother in law’s house layout, don’t you? Gotta drop something off? Get in, get out. No dilly dallying.
Why treat your grocery store any different? Sure you love it. Sure you want to spend time with it. But you shouldn’t spend 2 hours there every time.
I know the layout can be confusing, and you might realize that you end up getting lost. Ever wonder why there are flowers in the entrance of the store?
Shopping Ninja Tip:
- The perimeters are full of fresh produce, deli, frozen food, yogurt, eggs, and cheese.
- The common essentials (yogurt, eggs, milk, protein) are all in the back of the perimeter. They try to force you to walk through all the processed aisles.
- Walk the perimeters of the entire store first. Then run through the necessary middle aisles straight to the checkout.
Spend Your Money Wisely
You want to get what’s best for your dollar, right?
Nutritious food might not be as appealing but is definitely worth it in the long run. Check out these guidelines to avoid a cart full of junk:
Buy whole foods. Confused on what a whole food is? Can you pick it, pluck it, or dig it up? That’s a whole food. There are no pasta trees. There are no poptart bushes. There are no bread vines.
Go plain. “Vanilla” is a simple way to say, “extra sugar has been added.” Afraid to try plain anything? Remember you can always add sweeteners on your own! Stevia is one of the better sweeteners out there to try.
Five ingredients is best. Preservatives, binders, and chemicals are weird words that are hard to pronounce. Key tip: hard to pronounce = not the best for you
Rainbow your cart: All the colors, and I’m not talking about skittles. Greens, yellows/oranges, purples/blues, reds, whites/browns, etc. Check out this handy color chart.
Go local: Local produce is much healthier than produce shipped across the country. Check out why you should go local.
Use frozen meals: Nothing is more frustrating than buying healthy food and having it go bad before you can eat it. Why not opt for frozen veggies for an upcoming busy week?
There you go. A few quick steps to go from grocery store misery to grocery shopping champion:
1. Eat before you shop
2. Make a plan of a list, shopping buddy, or both.
3. Stick to your list!
4. Stick to the perimeters of the store
5. Spend your money on nutritious food
Now it’s time to take ACTION.
What is ONE thing you can put in place the next time you go shopping for food?
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