8 Tips For Healthy Grocery Shopping
Unlike what some may think (and what many have likely experienced), food shopping doesn’t have to be a dreaded task. The tips below will help you breeze through the grocery store with a smile, finding both affordable and healthful food options in a snap.
Stick to the store’s outer perimeter
This is where the majority of the best whole foods are located, protein-containing meats, fish, and cheeses as well as fresh, unprocessed foods such as fruits and vegetables. Skip the middle aisles as much as possible to avoid putting too many processed foods in your cart.
Don’t shop when you’re hungry
It’s totally true: When we’re hungry, our blood sugar lowers and everything (and we mean everything) looks great. Not only will you put more food in your cart, but you’ll also end up spending more money when you shop on an empty stomach. Try to shop shortly after a meal whenever possible.
Look carefully at expiration dates
There’s nothing more irritating than getting home from a tense grocery shopping ship to find that one of the foods you just bought will expire the next day. Spending a little extra time on this now could save you lots later. When selecting a food product, look for one that has the longest expiration date of all the others on the shelf. This may require a bit of hunting through items, but it’ll ensure your food is freshest when you buy it and will stay freshest the longest.
Make a shopping list with a meal plan for at least three days
With long lines (and possibly little hands who want to help), grocery shopping can be a daunting task on a good day. Doing it without a plan will make it even harder. Before heading for the grocery store, ask yourself what meals you will be making in the next several days. Write them down, along with the food items that you need that week. Go through each meal, starting with breakfast, listing all the ingredients you’ll need. (If desired, search through your coupons and use the store circular for extra savings.) To make this easier, our convenient weekly shopping lists include all the ingredients needed to prepare recipes for each week of the meal plan. It’s available in The PCOS Nutrition Center Cookbook: 100 Easy and Delicious Whole Food Recipes to Beat PCOS.
Examine the labels
Before putting food in your cart, carefully read food labels. For canned goods, look for the label “BPA-free.” Choose foods labeled “organic” and “non-GMO.” Watch out for foods high in saturated or trans fats, sodium, or sugar. For processed items, look for foods where the first ingredient reads “whole” and contains at least 3 grams or more of fiber per serving. If possible, compare the food item to others in the aisle to make the healthiest choice possible.
Buy local whenever possible
Buying food that didn’t sit in transit for an extended time will often be fresher (and taste better!) and can contain less or no pesticides or fertilizers. These choices are also environmentally friendly, and if it takes you to a local farmers’ market, where most local foods are sold, you’ll get the bonus of meeting and connecting with other community members as well as local farmers.
Avoid the most crowded shopping times
You’re likely to be more frustrated and feel more rushed to get out of the store when it’s crowded. These feelings could result in spontaneous (and expensive) food choices and less time and patience to read food labels and plan meals. So try to schedule a shopping trip in the early morning if it’s on a weekend and avoid the after-dinner rush when most people shop.
When possible, leave the kids at home
Raise your hand if you ended up buying more than you intended when you went grocery shopping with your kids! It’s difficult to devote time to food selection when you have to focus on appeasing your kids at the same time. There’s no easy way to shop with children, so if possible, leave the little loved ones at home whenever possible for a more enjoyable (and cheaper) experience.