Grocery stores are stocked with delights and distractions. Don’t get yourself in trouble! Let our Dietitians help — the key to healthy eating (and saving money) needs a plan and a path.
Whether you love it, dread it or think of it as just another item on your weekly to-do list, grocery shopping is something we all have to do. With thousands of food options — ranging from wholesome, organic, sweet and freshly-baked — how you choose to navigate the aisles impacts your health and your checkbook.
When you’re at the store, do any of these scenarios sound familiar to you?
- You go in for a “few necessities” and end up spending over $100.
- A few days after shopping, you can’t find anything you want to eat.
- You shop hungry and end up with a full cart of unhealthy food.
- You’re a wanderer, a grazer of every aisle.
If so, Renown’s Registered Dietitians say, “You’re doing it wrong.”
Grocery shopping shouldn’t be something you do on a whim. It takes strategy and planning. And it also helps to know how those who take food very seriously (ahem, Dietitians) shop.
Before you head out on your next food run, add these Dietitian tips to your grocery list:
- Don’t Shop Hungry
Set a day and time to shop. And before you go, eat! Leave for the store after a meal, or grab a snack-to-go.
Not only do hungry shoppers tend to choose more high-calorie foods, they also spend more money.
- Plan Meals
There are the essentials — like milk, eggs and bread — and then there’s everything else. Before adding additional items to your list, plan your meals for the week. It will help keep you focused when shopping.
“I think the hardest part is not making dinner when you get home, it’s thinking, ‘What am I going to make?’” says Kristen Knuf-Clements, Registered Dietitian, Renown Health. “If you already have some meals planned out, it’s a lot easier and healthier.”
As you prepare your menu, add meals you like to cook or search for healthy recipes online. And it also helps to break up your main entrees from the side dishes and include a variety of fruits and veggies. This will help you only purchase the meal ingredients and what you’ve put on your list.
Preparing your shopping list is also helpful for grocery store “wanderers” who scour aisles and come up with meals as they go.
- Shop the Perimeter
Think about your grocery store’s layout and departments. Where’s the dairy section? Meat and deli? Produce?
At almost all grocery stores, perishable items are on the perimeter of the store. The Dietitians say a good rule of thumb for where to shop is to think, “Healthy items need refrigeration.”
For example, if you want potatoes for a side dish, avoid heading toward the middle of the store for a “boxed” meal. Instead, get potatoes from the produce section (along the store’s perimeter), some freshly-grated cheese from the dairy department (also on the perimeter), and maybe some turkey bacon in the meat department (again, on the perimeter…see where this is going?).
While you should attempt to buy the majority of your food from the perimeter selections, not all food options on center aisles are unhealthy. There are some delicious healthy options to choose from including olive oils, herbs, spices, brown rice and whole-grain.
“Food shouldn’t last for years on a shelf,” says Dana Huckaby, Registered Dietitian, Renown Health. “That just doesn’t make sense. So why are we buying things that if we have a nuclear fallout, we’ll still be able to eat for five years?”
Know of other healthy grocery shopping tips? Share them in the comments!