Our Utah dietician Amanda helps us with some tips for the grocery store. I know I get stressed out sometimes trying to survive a shopping trip, and these tips definitely help!
1. Never Go Hungry
If you want a recipe for disaster, step foot into a grocery store with an empty stomach. Suddenly, you?ll forget that you were going to prepare salmon and asparagus for dinner and go straight for the snacks and frozen pizza. Planning to shop after a meal is always the best idea, but if you are on a sudden time crunch, try to get something sustainable (yogurt, string cheese, bread/peanut butter) in your belly before hitting the store.
2. Make a List
And check it twice! Shopping with a list allows you to prepare meals for a week and greatly reduces the chance that your fruits or veggies will go bad during the week. It also prevents you from buying foods you already have in your pantry. Ex) Day 1: English Muffin with egg, cheese, tomato, and spinach; Day 2: Spinach Salad; Day 3: Stir-Fry with chicken, brown rice, spinach, and frozen veggies; Day 4: Brown rice pilaf with spinach, tomato, and black beans
3. Peruse the Perimeter
Grocery stores make it easy on us. Almost all of them are organized where our fresh fruits and veggies, fresh meats, and dairy products are around the perimeter of the store. Now, I definitely feel like aisle shopping is necessary for whole grains, beans, and frozen fruits/veggies. But other than that, we are generally just picking up foods with much less nutrition than along the perimeter. In general, make your cart look like your plate: half veggies and fruit, a quarter whole grains, and a quarter lean proteins.
4. Read Labels
How else will you know what you?re getting? Be sure to check out how many servings are in the item you?re buying and look for a whole, short ingredient list. Remember, even though the product is brown or says ?no high fructose corn syrup? doesn?t mean it is a health food! Check for other added sugars and look for ?whole grain flour? on your labels while avoiding partially hydrogenated oils and artificial sweeteners. It is easy to label read when we?re perimeter shopping since we have so few items with labels!
5. Shop Once a Week
If we?re shopping only once a month then what is usually happening? We?re losing produce that?s going bad (or not buying it), we?re eating out a lot, or buying lots of processed foods with a long shelf life. Shopping once a week, with a list, can greatly decrease your waste and food cost. Also, if you have kids, find a babysitter and have this as enjoyable time away from the kids or date night with your loved one! Make it fun!