Imagine you are at the grocery store; you get to the checkout and unload your cart onto the conveyor belt. You unload item after item and think, “did I have all this stuff on my list?” The cashier tells you your purchase total, and you realize you’ve gone way over budget. It’s pretty safe to say that this imaginary scenario isn’t fictional. It’s safe to say it’s far too common among Americans, and if it hasn’t happened to you, 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 plan on buying.
Beat the Grocery Store Budget Buzz
Here are 11 easy tips to help you avoid impulse shopping and extra calories through the week!
If you take the time to plan your meals, 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 at the store to avoid wandering up and down the aisles. It will help you resist buying unhealthy snacks that you don’t need.
Eat A Snack Before You Shop
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 resist the temptation to buy junk food or unnecessary snacks. The best pre-shopping fuel you can eat is one with protein and a complex carbohydrate; try peanut butter on apple slices.
Read The Labels
The best way to avoid buying unhealthy food is to become aware of it. Ingredients such as refined flour, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, preservatives, artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners are ingredients you want to avoid. Typically they are higher in calories and less likely to have the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs.
Avoid The Middle
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 to stock your fridge and pantry with healthier items.
The fruits and vegetables in season are a triple threat to your diet! They are more nutritious than those out of season, but they are usually tastier and less expensive!
Eat The Rainbow
The USDA recommends that we eat various colors on our plates. Green vegetables are fantastic, but try pairing them with other colored fruits and veggies like blueberries and beets.
Avoid Buying Bulk
Buying bulk may seem like a 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 buy 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 stores will sell pre-grilled chicken or vegetables that are already cut up. These convenient meal prep options are usually more expensive in the store but are worth it if you eat more consistent healthy meals instead of eating out.
Buy Frozen Fruits And Vegetables
Frozen fruits and veggies exist without being packed in a sugary syrup. These flash-frozen foods are picked at their peak and still contain the same nutritional value as their fresh relatives. They are often even cheaper than their counterparts. These are great for having a healthy and quick snack in your freezer.
Don’t Tempt Yourself
Don’t buy anything you won’t want to be tempted by later. Think of all the things you tend to overindulge in, and then don’t buy them. If you need a treat, allow yourself to have a small portion elsewhere, like the ice cream parlor.
Explore Other Shopping Options
While shopping markets are easy to find and convenient, they are not the only option. Try looking for a local farmers’ market or food co-op. 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 challenging, but it is rewarding. Once free from 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.