The first time I walked into a grocery store, I was completely out of my element. I never had to shop for my own food until I went to college. Yes, I had been in a grocery store before but I never had to scope out specific foods that I wanted. I had no idea where to find simple things like olives. I didn't know whether to look in the veggies, canned items, or Mexican aisle. It took me awhile to figure out they were with the pickles (who knew)! During one of my nutrition classes in college, my professor took our class on a grocery store tour. I was pretty excited about this and figured I would get a lot out of it. We went to a local grocery store chain “Giant” and my take-home message after all was said and done: “Focus on the outside perimeter of the store, and stay away from the inside aisles”. When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. All the fresh fruits, veggies, meats and dairy products are on the outer parts of the store. Where does that leave the chips, cookies, and soda? On the inside aisles of course! So just keep that in mind next time you go grocery shopping. Here are the top 5 cardinal rules that I follow when I head to the grocery store:
1. Stick to a list: The first thing you want to do is make a list of the foods that you need. Once you’ve made your list, stick to it! Don’t stray away from what you have written down. If you don’t have a list, then you’ll end up just grabbing foods that sound good to you in that moment. Before you know it, you’re finishing off a bag of “Munchies Mix” and regretting every minute of it. Trust me I know, this is a true story. 2. Remember the layout: Every grocery store is laid out with the same idea; produce when you first walk in, meat and cheese towards the back of the store, dairy and eggs in one section, and all the rest in between. Picture yourself walking around the store and list the foods in order of the path throughout the store. This will make for the most efficient shopping there is! 3. Pick around the perimeter: Try your best to get most of your foods around the perimeter of the store (produce, meat, and dairy). Once you have all the essentials, choose wisely which foods you need on the inner perimeter/within the aisles. Try and limit these items, however it doesn't mean every food in an aisle is bad for you! There are still some foods “on the inside” that are good choices, for example, frozen or canned fruits and veggies. Stay away from the snack aisle altogether if you want to avoid temptation. 4. Don’t go hungry: I’ve done this way too many times and end up getting twice the amount of food I intended. It’s never a good idea to put yourself in the middle of a food paradise when you’re starving. You'll think every cookie, chip, and dip sounds like a great idea at the time. Only bad things come from this! 5. Pay attention to coupons: One of the biggest hurdles with eating healthy is the cost. I’m aware that healthier foods have a higher price tag, but with some effort, you can make them affordable. Every Saturday I receive the circulars for every grocery store in my area. I make sure to check out what healthful foods they’re offering with coupons, and incorporate them into dinners or lunches for the week. When I see that Giant is promoting peaches for $0.69/lb, I make sure to either use them as my fruit at lunch, or include them with a dessert after a light dinner. So just pay attention to coupons, they’re free! It’s the easiest way you can save money with a very small amount of effort
So all in all, it's easy to keep yourself on track during a grocery store trip. Just use these basic rules the next time you head out to the store and keep things simple! Using a list, tracking coupons, and planning out your route will help keep shopping efficient, quick, and hopefully more enjoyable. Just knowing that you were able to get healthy foods at a great price is an accomplishment in itself. I know I feel good about the whole week's menu when I do! So enjoy these rules, become a better food shopper, and let me know how it goes! Send me a message or leave a comment!