I think a point many people forget about when considering a “healthy lifestyle”, and eating better is what you bring into your home heavily effects what you eat and what choices you make.
Scenario 1: You force yourself to buy all different vegetables and “health” foods that you have no experience with handling and then for the next two weeks you’re ordering take out
Scenario 2: You go to the grocery store and mindless fill up your cart with the things that “sound good at that moment”. Then you get home, and maybe realize you have acquired more food than you meant to and/or acquired some not so healthy food choices
Scenario 3: You prepare for your shopping trips, you make a list, you don’t over buy, and you get a balance of things you enjoy to eat, and things that are maybe more “risks” for you.
I prefer scenario 3 don’t you? I also live on a budget, and as much as I would like to I can’t just go and buy food whenever I want. I also only cook for just myself and sometimes my sweet significant other. On the other side of the coin I am someone who is very driven by what I “feel like having” versus being able to plan a weeks worth of meals.
Another thing I enjoy are lists. I love making lists. I like top 10 lists, I like lists of favorite foods (#nerd)- this includes grocery lists. I am someone who when I go into a grocery store I need a list or I just go crazy because I’m a foodie, and I will just be like “Oh that is interesting I’ll try that”.
So here is the first installment of one of my lists—
Top 10 Rules for Mastering your Grocery Store
1) Shop within your budget
-Eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive. Make peace with the frozen fruits and vegetables and how to prepare them. This saves me a tonnnnnnnn of cash-monies, both for shopping and it decreases waste. Instead of having fresh veggies I just buy ones that are flash frozen, and when I want veggies I just grab a bag of whatever I’m in the mood for.
2) Make it a family affair (if you have a family)
-For those if you with families- I by no means am a parent- but I remember growing up I was taken to the store and allowed to have input in what was going into the cart etc. I was also always encouraged to be near or in the kitchen during prep as well. And I think personally that has really shaped my love and fascination I have with food.
3) Take a risk
– Try a new veggie or fruit. Preferably find a recipe beforehand (at least for veggies), and try something out of the ordinary. Plan your recipe ahead of time then get just pick up what you need.
4) DO NOT SHOP WHEN YOU’RE HUNGRY
-I mean I really should move this to the top, this is the cardinal rule of grocery shopping. When you go into the store when hungry your brain will somehow remember EVERY recipe you pinned on Pinterest in the past 7 days- you will miraculously have a photographic memory, everything will look good. Then you will get it home, and as the next few days go by you will look at your groceries that you “don’t need” with a resentment that builds until you either choke down what you bought, or begrudgingly throw it away.
5) Use a smaller cart or a basket
-This is the same as using a smaller plate- it’s visual trickery. This is a useful trick that really only applies if you are shopping for 2 people or less. It am doubtful if this applies for shopping for an entire family (as I do not shop for one). Maybe you could get away with this for a family if you had to “pop in” somewhere in between bigger trips…. But this works for me as single human/person
6) Make a list
– This is my other cardinal rule- if you just aimlessly go into the store without a plan you will likely over-buy. Or become frustrated and forget things.
7) Treat yo’self
– I suggest to my patients that when they shop to buy one “treat” and make it last as long as possible (i.e. don’t buy a gallon of ice cream each week). This treat can be any number of things. One of my fav treats are dark chocolate covered cherries from Trader Joes
8) Don’t over-buy
-This can essentially be prevented by following steps 4, 5, and 6. It’s so frustrating to throw food out, especially in this economy. Buy what you need and stick to your list.
9) Stick to the perimeter within reason
-This is an insanely misunderstood rule. People are always being told to “shop the perimeter”. But by following this to the letter you are missing out on some good stuff. You can essentially go with the cans of soup and overly processed foods but the aisles will contain your whole grains, cereals, frozen fruits, vegetables, and meats- as well as granola bars and some nuts, beans, and seeds.
10) Remember food safety
-This kind of relates to the previous step- if you are shopping the perimeter do it last. Don’t put your meat in the car first then wander around the store for another 45 minutes. Get non-perishables first and foods that will perish last
10 1/2) Have fun!!! 🙂
I’m one of those weird people that I genuinely enjoy my time grocery shopping it is not a chore or errand with me. I am even at that point that I will plan Pat’s (my manfriend) grocery list, and help him plan meals for the week.
Stay tuned for more nutrition and nerdy lists.