Has this ever happened to you? You go to the grocery store hungry with a list or an idea of what you were going to get and walked out with much more than planned?
Grocery stores are designed to anticipate your foot pattern AND put specific foods in your line of sight. If you walk down the cereal aisle, you might see bananas hanging up. This is after you have walked past the produce section on your way in, but now you think ‘oh well, I am going to get Cheerios, so now I need bananas to put in my Cheerios.’ Into the cart they go.
Do I even need to mention the impulse purchase at the register?
Those bright yellow and red signs are designed to attract your attention even if TastiKakes were not on your list (I really hope they were not on your list!).
Brands pay more money to put their items at the end of the aisle so that you see it while maneuvering the perimeter and throw one or two in your cart. Even if you did not need tortilla chips, how often do you grab them anyway?
Here are my top THREE tips for success at the store!
#1 MAKE A LIST! (I capitalized it because it is that important) Making a list before you go will help you stay on track! One of my favorite kitchen tools that I use daily is Alexa. When we run out of milk, we have a skill on Alexa and say ‘Alexa, add milk to the list.’ When we finally hit up the store, the list is updated on our phone in an app. BIG FAN. HUGE! If you are a tactile person, keep a physical piece of paper in your kitchen and write the items down as you need them. #vintage, but it works.
Have you ever been to Las Vegas?
Once you are inside the casino, they want you to stay inside the casino. The grocery store is set up the same way. They want to draw you into the middle aisles while you are making your way around the perimeter. Grocery stores start with produce, bakery, meat/fish, then dairy/milk, eggs and then you are usually back at the front. Maybe a few transitions in order, but mostly true. You should spend 80% of your time and money around the perimeter.
Fill your cart up with:
- Whole grains
- Fish and lean meats
Then head to the inner aisles for the key staples like frozen fruit and veggies and canned or dried beans, whatever is on your list.
#2 Understand labels:
Before we get to the nutrition facts below, look at ingredients.
If you do not know what it is, or how to pronounce it, you probably do not need it in your body. If they need commercials to sell you on its virtue, you probably do not need it in your body.
Added sugars are listed on ingredient lists under different alias like corn, syrup, high fructose corn syrup or fruit juice concentrate, just to keep you confused. All of those still mean sugar and will have a huge impact on your blood sugar highs and lows.
Did you know that ingredients are listed in the order of quantity. As an example, if you look at a jar of salsa and tomatoes are listed first, that’s a good start. Same for tomato sauce. Do you know the first ingredient in chocolate syrup? High fructose corn syrup.
Now, let's look at the label to the left:
1) How many servings are included per container?
2) What is a serving size? According to the USDA, a serving of ice cream is 1/2 c and might include 150 calories. Now, measure what 1/2 c of ice cream looks like. When was the last time you scooped 1/2 c of ice cream?
I am skipping right over calories because there is much more useful information on this label that will help you make smart decisions.
3) What are the key nutrients included?
Overall, you want more: Dietary Fiber, Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron, and Potassium. Overall, you want less Saturated Fat, Sodium and Added Sugars.
Remember: You can use the label to support your personal dietary needs—choose foods that contain more of the nutrients you want to get more of and less of the nutrients you may want to limit.
#3: Scan the Produce:
Spend time admiring the produce. If the produce is in season or on sale, it will usually cost a little bit less. However, if you are new to fruits and veggies and you are worried you wont have time or energy to wash and cut. Get the items pre-prepared. This is one of the best places to start in the grocery.
It will undoubtedly be worth the financial investment in YOU.
That was a lot of information and that i just about grocery shopping, which you do every single week.