How many of you find going to the grocery store to be tedious? What about Daunting? Do you find yourself using the line “I’ll just buy my lunch today and go grocery store tomorrow” when tomorrow never really comes? Don’t worry, I know how you feel because I have been in your shoes before. I found grocery shopping to be a nauseating task because I never knew what to properly look for and always found myself in the junk food isles because it was easy. Once I got the hang of it though, it became much more cost effective and I find making my meals to be a lot more fun and healthier than grabbing a falafel from the local cafeteria.
Today, I will share with you a few of my trips and tricks I created for myself when I go grocery shopping and some of the Do’s and Don’ts that go along with it. As a kid I used to hate go grocery shopping and it wasn’t until recently when I started to cook for myself that I appreciated it and discovered ways to make it easier for myself. I used to get so confused due to the endless isles, the caucus of aggressive shoppers, and so many different brand names consisting of the same product, which had me asking myself “which one do you chose”? Grocery shopping was never as enjoyable as retail shopping for me. Retail shopping was so relaxing, so why couldn’t grocery shopping ever feel that way? Discovering the answer to that question was easy. I never appreciated the value and the ways of grocery shopping. I grew up with my parents always doing to grocery shopping for me so I never had to worry about it. Retail shopping was relaxing for me because I knew what I was looking for in terms of styles and colours. When I entered a grocery store to shop, I had no idea what I was looking for and I automatically went to the junk food isle, because that’s what attracted my eye, and as you all know, we are creatures of habit. By the time I would get back to my car to unload all the groceries I realized that most of the items I purchased we not nutritious. I knew something had to be done and a system needed to be put in place. So I sat down one day and created a SMART plan for myself. Here is what I came up with.
- (S)hopping the boarder of the grocery store
Shopping the boarder of the grocery store is the want to go. The minute you enter the middle section of the grocery store and hit the isles, that’s where all the processed and pre-backed foods are and we don’t want that. These items are loaded with a whole bunch of chemicals that our body doesn’t need. Along the perimeter of the grocery store you will find all of your necessary items such as produce, bakery, dairy products, and poultry. These are the foods that provide all of the essential nutrients and minerals our body requires. If you are looking at packaged items make sure you are looking for key words such as “100% fruit juice” and staying away from words like ” fruit from concentrate” because that’s all sugar.
- (M)ake a list
Go in with a plan! Create a grocery list of the foods you would need for the week. Take a look at your refrigerator and pantry to see what you have already. I’ve made the mistake of buying items I already had at home and did not consume it food fast enough and it ended up spoiling. By doing this we are throwing our money away.
Having a set list is the best way to go about it. Just get the items that are on the list and get out. Sounds easy right? Well it can be easy to veer away from the list and buy items you had no intensions of buying and essentially don’t need.
Every time me and my boyfriend go grocery shopping we make it a game and see how fast we can get in and out of the grocery store. This puts pressure on us to stick to the list and not get distracted by the items we don’t need.
- (A)cquiring brand name labels
Grocery shopping can be very pricy sometimes, just like retail shopping. The best way to get around that is by looking for sales and not sticking to brand name labels. Check out your weekly flyer for deals and coupons. If an item is in season, chances are they will be on sale for a great price. Don’t receive flyers? There are so many mobile apps such as FLIPP. This app lets you search any food item and locate which grocery store has it on sale.
Make sure to not get hooked on a popular brand label. See if there are other no name labels or cheaper brands that for the for that item. For example, canned beans are sold by many different companies, the only difference between the two items is the brand name. The product is still the same and there is no point in paying the extra money for it when you can get a better value for it.
- (R)evert from shopping on an empty stomach
Never ever go to the grocery store when you are hungry! You have already put yourself in a bad situation at this point and making it a huge tease for yourself. Your eyes are always bigger than your stomach. One day I was running a whole bunch of errands and my last stop of the day was the grocery store. Between errands I did not have any time to stop and eat so inevitably I went into the grocery store very hungry. By the end of the trip I realized my eyes were bigger than my stomach because my shopping cart was filled with snacks and food items that were not on my list. On the car ride home I found myself snacking on the junk food I bought and crying about my over priced grocery bill. Boy did I learn my lesson from that.
- (T) Targeting nutritional value
Nutrition is key when it comes to buying food. You always want to make sure you are getting the most bank for your buck when it comes to nutrition. Stacking up on fruits and vegetables is really important. Fruits and vegetables contain and whole bunch of essential vitamins and minerals that are essential for our optimal health, and are also very low in calories. When buying packaged items, avoid foods that contain more than five ingredients, artificial ingredients, or ingredients you can’t pronounce.
Getting familiar with the nutritional facts on an item is important. Some of the key points to look at when analyzing a nutrition label is:
- Caloric Intake
- Making sure the item has more fibre, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium and less fat, saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, cholesterol.
- Ingredients: According to the Government of Canada, ingredients are listed in order of weight. Starting off with the ingredient that weighs the most and ending with the ingredient that weighs the least.
It’s important to consider all of these factors when going grocery shopping. You will find it easier and more effective in implementing healthier foods into your diet. Next tie you go to the grocery store try my SMART rules. They work and I know for myself it has made my life a lot more easier and helpful. I definitely don’t find myself snacking on the car rides home anymore, that’s for sure!