Do you have a case of the grocery shopping blues?
For many of us, grocery shopping is just one more necessary evil in an already hectic schedule. It can be a time consuming and frustrating experience if you don’t have a plan in place. “Shopping the perimeter” of the store is a good place to start – it can really help to increase your produce intake!
The Plan of Attack
Think about the layout of your local grocery store. As you will probably notice, many of the nutrient-rich choices are found along the outer walls. The fresh produce, seafood, meat, dairy and maybe even grains are usually located there. These foods tend to be in their whole, unprocessed form and thus nutrient-rich. A nutrient-rich food is one that is chock-full of vitamins and minerals and is less likely to have added sugar or fat.
Focus your time along the store’s perimeter and it’s pretty likely you will make some quality choices. Now, that’s not to say that you won’t come across a cookie, pastry or other temptation, but it’s much less likely that you will be bombarded with these things. When you walk down the center isles, look for whole grains, nuts, seeds, nut butters and seasonings.
When you wonder down the aisles, look for 100% whole wheat and whole grain products as these can add lots of fiber to the diet and are a great source of B vitamins! Overall, it’s about directing most of your attention to the perimeter and only heading to the center aisles for a handful of other nutrient-rich items.
5 Tips to Streamline Your Shopping Experience
- Plan meals and make a list. Try to plan for a set amount of time (1 week usually works well) and list all of the ingredients you will need to make meals and snacks for your family during that time. Don’t forget to take “inventory” to see what you already have. This helps prevent constant trips to the store and overspending.
- Group items on your shopping list. Categorize your shopping list by areas you would find things in the grocery store. For example, group all dairy, all frozen foods, all fresh produce, all deli items, etc. You are much less likely to run back and forth because of a forgotten food on your list if everything is listed together.
- Don’t go shopping on an empty stomach. You are more likely to buy things you don’t need if you are starving as you browse the aisles of the store. This isn’t good for your health or your wallet!
- Don’t “browse” the aisles. Grazing through the store will most likely help unhealthy foods to sneak their way into the shopping cart. Stick to your shopping list as much as possible.
- Look for less ingredients. Choosing foods with less ingredients often means they have more nutrients and might be less processed. So, as you go down the aisles, take a look at the food label and check out the ingredient list. Remember, sometimes less is more!