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Imagine you are at the grocery store, you get to the checkout and start unloading your cart onto the conveyor belt. You unload item after item and you start to think, “did I really have all this stuff on my list?” The cashier tells you the total of your purchase and you realize you’ve gone way over budget. It’s pretty safe to say that this imaginary scenario isn’t imaginary at all. It’s safe to say it’s far too common among Americans and if it hasn’t happened to you, then you are amazing!
On average supermarkets carry around 38,718 products! It can become overwhelming to shop when there are so many temptations present. However, with some simple tips and strategies, you can eliminate the stress of shopping and leave the store with bags full of the healthy food you planned on buying.
Here are 11 easy tips to help you avoid the impulse shopping and extra calories through the week!
If you take the time to plan your meals beforehand you will already know what you need when you get to the store. Make a list of all the ingredients you will need to make your meals and to save a little more time, you can group them by department or aisle. Stick to your list while you are at the store to avoid wandering aimlessly up and down the aisles. This will help you resist the temptation of buying unhealthy snacks that you don’t need.
It is always a terrible idea to go to the store on an empty stomach. If you go to the store with no food in your belly, everything will start to sound good. Eating a snack before you shop will help you to resist the temptation to buy junk food or unnecessary snacks. The best kind of pre-shopping fuel you can eat is one with protein and a complex carbohydrate; try peanut butter on apple slices.
The best way to avoid buying unhealthy food is to become aware of what is in it. Ingredients such as refined flour, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, preservatives, artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners are ingredients that you want to avoid. Typically they are higher in calories and less likely to have the important vitamins and minerals that your body needs.
Stores tend to organize their products with the freshest, least processed foods on the outer aisles and the unhealthy processed food in the middle. Avoid shopping in the middle as much as possible in order to stock your fridge and pantry with healthier items.
The fruits and vegetables that are in season are a triple threat when it comes to your diet! Not only are they more nutritious than those that are out of season, but they are usually tastier and less expensive!
The USDA recommends that we eat a wide variety of colors on our plates. Green vegetables are awesome, but try pairing them other colored fruits and veggies like blueberries and beets.
Buying bulk may seem like the better deal when you are at the store because it can sometimes save you money in the long run. Those BOGO or coupon deals seem hard to resist. But having that excess amount of food in the house could also cause you to overeat and it could cause you to go over your budget for the week. If you do end up buying bulk, take the time while you are home to separate the food into smaller, single portion sized containers to avoid eating all the food at once.
There isn’t always time to prepare a nice healthy meal for dinner, but that doesn’t mean that you should throw in the towel and buy a quick unhealthy meal. Often times stores will sell pre-grilled chicken or vegetables that are already cut up. These convenient meals prep options are usually more expensive in the store but are worth it in the end if you are eating more consistent healthy meals instead of eating out.
There are frozen fruits and veggie that exist without being packed in a sugary syrup. These flash frozen foods are picked at their peak and still contain almost exactly the same nutritional value as their fresh relatives. They are often times even cheaper than their counterparts. These are great to have as healthy and quick snacks in your freezer.
Don’t buy anything that you won’t want to be tempted by later. Think of all the things that you tend to overindulge in and then don’t buy it. If you are in need of a treat, allow yourself to have a small portion elsewhere, like the ice cream parlor.
While shopping markets are easy to find and convenient, they are not the only option out there. Try looking for a local farmers market or food co-op in your area. They can offer fresh, local, and often organic food for less than or equal to store prices.
Breaking the habit of buying unhealthy food can be hard, but it is a rewarding endeavor. Once free from the vice of eating poorly, you will begin to feel better! You’ll have more energy, you’ll feel happier, and you’ll look great. It can be hard to get started, so start with baby steps. If you mess up one week, don’t get down on yourself, try again and do your best to be better than the week before.