Let’s face it…..grocery shopping can be quite overwhelming; dodging other shoppers, carts bumping into you, produce that has been picked over, crying kids (that may or may not be your own) begging for candy, and the hundreds of different types of ice cream tantalizing you around the next corner. The grocery store is not an easy place to navigate and it can be extremely hard to stick to healthy food choices when under these conditions. With a little guidance, your next visit could be a lot smoother, below are some tips to help. Make a list: Before heading out, try planning your meals for the week and then create your shopping list. It may take a few extra minutes, but will definitely help you to avoid running back for missing ingredients. Don’t forget to stick to the list when you get to the store.
Don’t go hungry: This is probably the worst thing you can do when trying to make healthier choices. An empty stomach often results in impulse purchases that may not be the healthiest. Have a small snack or go after a meal to help keep you on track.
Shop the perimeter of the grocery store: This is usually where fresh foods like your vegetables, meat, eggs, and fish are located. Avoid the center aisles as much as possible, that’s where junk food and temptations hide.
Spend most of your time in the produce section: It’s usually the first and largest area you encounter when entering the grocery store. Be sure to choose a colorful variety of vegetables. Choosing foods that represent different colors of the rainbow will help you get a full spectrum of nutrients (different essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants). Keep a picture of the Ideal Protein friendly veggies list on your phone to help you stay on track. Also, to ensure you are getting all your micro-nutrients, aim to fill at least half of your grocery cart with plant-based items. Change things up a bit and try a new vegetable each week!
Avoid the aisles you don’t need: Fortunately, most sections in the grocery stores are labeled clearly with what is available in that particular area, this can help you stay clear of the aisles you do not need to go down. It can also help prevent impulse purchases for items not listed on your grocery list.
Check the top and bottom shelves: One of the many ways that grocery stores make money is from product placement throughout their stores. The food items placed in the middle are the best-selling or most popular products. Sadly, those popular products are usually not the healthiest choice. Check the top and bottom shelves for better options.
Give the Freezer Section a Chance: Frozen vegetables, without sauce, are a convenient way to help you get your 4 cups in each day. They can be just as nutritious as fresh vegetables. It can take days between when vegetables are harvested to when they end up at your local grocery store; what you find in the freezer is frozen immediately, this helps lock in the nutrients.
Get to know your butcher: They can give insight on the meat or fish and can help you pick the healthiest or leanest options. They may even be able to suggest new methods of preparation or can give advice if you have never cooked with that particular protein before.
Read the ingredients, not just the nutrition label: If there’s something specific you’re looking to steer clear of (i.e. sugar) scanning the ingredients list is the best, and often the only way you should do it. Next time you’re thinking about buying packaged food, check the ingredients list first. Once you’re sure it meets your standards, you can start thinking about the numbers on the label.
Try implementing some of these tips next time you make a trip to the grocery store. A few minutes spent planning ahead can help save time, money, and frustration as well as make it easier to stick to your new healthy lifestyle.