Smart Grocery Shopping Tips: Navigate the Store Like a Pro

Grocery shopping and doing it right are paramount to maintaining your health, serving as your first line of defense against eating too many processed foods. This article offers some helpful tips for how to shop, how to properly read labels on packaged foods, and which convenience foods are smart to buy.

Shop The Perimeter

Perishable whole foods such as produce, dairy, meat, veggies, and fruits are always around the perimeter of the store. This is because most whole foods are perishable and need to be refrigerated. If you stick to this area, there is less temptation to buy too many processed foods, which are usually found in the middle of the store. Beware of some perimeter stops such as the bakery and prepared foods on end caps and at the register. Depending on where you shop, bakery items are usually ultra-processed.

Planning Ahead

Have a plan every time you go to the grocery store and make a list. Try not to deviate from your list.

Don’t Shop Hungry

Don’t shop hungry. When you shop hungry, you spend money on products that are usually processed and something you don’t want in your cupboard. In fact, studies have found that 75% of those who shop hungry spend more money than they anticipated, and 60% buy impulse processed food.

Reading Labels

Labels can get confusing. If overwhelmed, try paying attention to the calories, protein, fiber, and ingredients in a packaged food. These are the priorities we like to look at when reviewing a nutrition label.

If you’re looking for a protein-rich food, make sure the protein calories make up 20% of the total calories. Packaged foods with a decent amount of fiber will range between 3-5 grams per serving. Pay attention to serving sizes and how many servings are in the entire package – make sure it’s worth the calories and money. The FDA actually allows for a 10% margin of error for calories on a package. In fact, some oil sprays have such a small serving size that their label actually says zero calories, even when most people use more than one serving.

Generally speaking, look for lower amounts of added sugars and saturated fats on the label of the packaged foods you buy. Don’t worry too much about the percentage amount of daily intake on the label, as everyone is different and this percentage is going off a 2,000 calorie diet.

Make A Shopping List

Here are some ideas for your next convienence shopping list. While shopping for convenience foods for meals, consider adding frozen fish, meat patties that are easy to pop in the air fryer, and bagged salads. Frozen veggies are also great for a quick meal, and frozen fruit makes a great summer treat when you need something sweet and cold.

Healthy snacks you could opt in for include cheese sticks, beef jerky (remember to read the label and make sure it doesn’t have a ton of extra sugar), carrots, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, fruit, and nuts (raw is ideal). Packaged oatmeal is great for breakfast on the go. If you can afford it, consider buying grass-fed or ethically raised meat. Leaner red meats include sirloin, loin, and round cuts. Look for ground meat options that are lean in fat if you are trying to hit a balanced macronutrient profile.

To save money, shop with a recipe in mind, especially if you’re meal prepping for the week. Think of things you can make with the same ingredients so you don’t waste anything.

Try our easy chicken jambalaya recipe 

Sticking To Your Grocery List

Stick to your grocery list as much as possible. It is impossible to cut processed foods and cookies completely out of your life, but if you buy them, you will be more inclined to eat them. So, buying a small bag instead of a giant bag of potato chips might be the way to go. If you have foods that you crave, make it inconvenient to get them. For example, if you want cookies, don’t keep them at your house so you have to go out to get them somewhere else.

 

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Want to learn more about fad diets? Listen to The Stronger Than Your Boyfriend Podcast, Episode 184: Navigating the Grocery Store

 

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