Your greatest defense against poor spending habits and impulse junk food purchases in the grocery store is to go in with a plan and stick to it. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your grocery store and maybe even save a few bucks as well.
The first rule of thumb when it comes to eating healthy is to try and keep to only the perimeter of the grocery store. Nearly every single grocery store will keep its store organized in a similar fashion. Produce, Dairy, Meat and Bakery will be on the outside corners of the store. The unhealthy and processed foods are often kept in the middle on the shelves. There are of course exceptions to this but if you start from the outside and work your way in, you will be less likely to fill the cart up with poor food choices.
If you are shopping for items that are either out of season or that your local market does not carry you can also look for frozen alternatives as an option. Most frozen foods are still of good nutritional value and are a better deal often for portion sizes than canned varieties. Keep in mind that canned foods are also often high in sodium, adding this during the canning process, so if possible use canned foods as a last resort.
When you are purchasing produce make sure that you aren’t buying too much. Many of us waste money on produce because we think we should stock up on vegetables. If you don’t think you can eat the fruits/vegetables within a week, it’s best to get it frozen. You may even plan a second trip to the market if needed.
When you are in the bakery isle, beware the choices that are available to you. The smell of the bakery will often make anyone’s mouth water. Stick to whole grain options of bread and buns. Avoid if at all possible the products made with bleached white flour as these lack any real nutrients and are generally higher in fat; these serve only as empty calories.
Go bulk. Whenever possible there are certain items that will taste the same regardless of the brand you choose. Bulk foods lack the commercial packaging and so they are offered usually at a fraction of the cost. Legumes, brown rice, dried fruits, nuts and all natural peanut butter are great items you can get in the bulk foods section.
Consider planning your meals ahead of time. If you find that you are able to do so, consider cooking your meals up to one month in advance. Many people will go to the grocery store with a meal plan and spend one weekend cooking the month’s worth of meals to save in the freezer. This can save money in the long run as well as the time and effort of planning what to have for dinner. Look for different ways to prepare your food so that you don’t get bored of eating the same things day to day. Try a different marinade, broil instead of bake, even get out the barbecue to cook and freeze meats ahead of time.