Do you walk to the fruits first? Do you walk around the periphery and then go down the aisles? Do you go down every aisle?
Your grocery store habits play a role in the types of food that you buy and ultimately what you eat. So here’s a quick and easy way to get around your grocery store to practice eating healthy and hopefully save some money:
1. Have a plan. Going to the grocery store when you’re hungry is the worst thing you can do. I notice when I’m craving chocolate or sweets that I end up leaving the grocery store with an extra $20-$30 worth of food that, most of the time, isn’t healthy for me. So, make a list of the recipes you want (try to use recipes that overlap some of the ingredients if you can), get what you need and get out of there. A cool app that uses recipes to build a grocery list for you is called Mealime (I’m still working with it to see how I feel about the recipes).
2. Start with the fruits and vegetables. If you are going to grab extra food because you’re hungry, at least this way you grab food that is healthy for you. My local grocery store conveniently has the baked goods section right near the entrance. I have to actively look away from it so I don’t get lured to the sugary goodness that are Publix cookies. When buying fruits and veggies, you don’t have to buy everything in bulk (this depends on how quickly you use it and how many people you are feeding). Fruits and veggies tend to go bad quickly so just buy what you will actually use.
- Be cautious about the juices that put in this area! They do a good job of making you feel like apple juices are as healthy as the apples sitting right next to it, but it’s not! Check out those nutrition labels (tutorial on how to do this coming to you soon)!
3. Next head to the meats and fish. Some rules of thumb – buy raw meat and cook it yourself. It may seem like more work, but I’m the end it tastes better, is better for you, and can typically lasts more than one meal.
- For red meats, aim for low fat content (90/10 beef tends to be a good rule of thumb).
- For chicken and turkey, the same rule applies. Pro Tip: When buying ground chicken or turkey, make sure it says “Ground Chicken (or Turkey) Breast“, because if it just says “Ground Chicken” then it may include the skin, which has more fat in it.
- For fish, try to avoid fishes that use dye to keep the color. (I’m currently working on a fresh vs frozen article pertaining to this topic… hold tight).
4. Now on to milk, cheese, and eggs. Try to aim for low-fat options of milks, cheeses, and yogurts. It’s really important to read nutrition labels here because companies often times add a lottttt of sugar to make their milk products taste good. This rule applies to lactose-free and soy products too! If you want to buy yogurt, get plain yogurt and add fruits and nuts to it yourself. The yogurts with fruits already in it add so much unnecessary sugar (check out the picture below). If you’re not sure how much sugar a few extra grams is: 4 grams = 1 teaspoon of sugar.
5. The rest of the aisles. Thankfully you’ve gotten 90% of what you really need in the kitchen. Everything else is extra. The biggest tip for the rest of the aisles is this: read the nutrition labels and the ingredients. Pictures on cans and packages are not always accurate and don’t have to be. The FDA only regulates the nutrition label, the ingredient list, and allergen information!
Finally I heard a helpful tip the other day – look down and bend over. Companies pay more money to be placed their items at eye-level, but you can find a lot of good stuff and great sales on the bottom shelves. Don’t be afraid to move away from fancy brands. All that really matters are those nutrition labels and ingredients. (You’re probably thinking that you’ll be hearing that a lot from me. If so, you’re not wrong.)