Let’s face it, we’re all guilty of leaving the grocery store and thinking to ourselves “What did I just buy?”. With so many aisles, products, and brands, deciphering what to buy is a feat in itself. It is very easy to get tempted by unhealthy options. We go in with the intention of purchasing apples and leave with an apple pie instead.
Our goal is to help you make smarter and healthier choices at the grocery store without hurting your bank account.
Here are some helpful tips to consider while shopping:
1. Make a List
Before you leave your house, make a list of what items you need. Check your inventory so you don’t purchase duplicate items that will go to waste. Plan your recipes ahead of time and add them to your list. While shopping, try to stick as close as you can to the list. Most impulse purchases tend to be unhealthy ones.
2. Eat a Snack
Don’t go to the grocery store hungry! We’ve all been there; we shop on an empty stomach and come home with items we don’t need. If you don’t have time to eat before, purchase a healthy snack when you arrive. Produce is right at the entrance and easy to grab and go.
3. Shop the Perimeter
One of the best ways to guarantee a healthy cart is by purchasing most of your items from the perimeter of the store. This is where you’ll find fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, low fat dairy, etc. Most processed foods are in the center aisles. The items along the perimeter are your fresh foods which are jam packed with vitamins and minerals.
Choose proteins that are 85% lean or higher. This can include lean chicken, turkey, beef or fish. Avoid breaded and fried varieties. When purchasing dairy, look for low fat and non-fat options. This includes skim and 1% milk, non-fat and low fat cottage cheese/yogurt and low fat cheese. Avoid dairy products with sugar added ie. flavored milk or yogurts. You can always add fresh fruit later.
4. Shop Seasonal Produce
According to ChooseMyPlate.gov, seasonal produce is easier to get, has more flavor and is usually less expensive! You can also visit your local farmers market for fresh, seasonal produce which also helps to support your local farmers.
5. Frozen vs. Canned vs. Fresh
You can also save money on produce by purchasing frozen and canned options. These options have the same nutrients as a fresh variety. These options will last longer and you’ll save money since they won’t spoil as quickly. Beans are also a low cost option packed with protein and fiber!
Make sure to read the ingredients. Avoid vegetables mixed with butter, salt and sauces. Look for frozen fruit without added sugars and select canned options in 100% fruit juice. ChooseMyPlate recommends purchasing your produce in their basic form, without any added ingredients.
6. Save $$ with Store Brands
Purchasing store brands is a great option to save money on your grocery bill. The products will be cheaper with the same or similar ingredients. If you like the name brand of a product better, try to stock up while it is on sale.
7. Buy in Bulk
Those everyday staples that you always have in your house can be bought in bulk. Purchase your favorite lean proteins, produce and whole grain breads while on sale or in large quantities and freeze until ready to use. This will keep things from spoiling in your fridge or on your counter. You can freeze leftovers as well so they won’t go to waste. Try making a big batch of a recipe so you can freeze and save for a night you don’t want to cook!
We hope these tips will help make your weekly shopping trip easier, healthier and cheaper.
To learn even more about healthy eating, go to www.ChooseMyPlate.gov for more information.