Having a healthy diet and reaching your health and fitness goals starts at the grocery store. Being a savvy grocery shopper is underrated. Many people dread going to the grocery store, but this is usually because they are not doing the necessary prep work to ensure their shopping trip is a success. I often watch people meander through the grocery store with no plan, wandering aimlessly through the aisles trying to figure out what they need for the week. This is a giant waste of time and money. Many people tell me they don’t have time to plan ahead. Then they spend twice as much time at the grocery store trying to figure out what they are going to buy. They often buy things they don’t really need or they waste their money on junk food. This is also the person that ends up making several trips to the store because they forget necessities such as the bread or the milk. In many cases this also means more food is eaten away from the home at restaurants. This can get expensive, and let's face it, most restaurant meals are not that healthy.
If shopping is a barrier to finding success in reaching your health or fitness goals, here are some tips for being a supermarket superstar:
Keep tabs: Post a piece of paper to your fridge and write down things you need as you go or if you are running low. This way when it is time to make a list you don’t have to spend time looking through the fridge trying to figure out what you need.
Take inventory: Keeping tabs can be great, but it is also good to take a quick inventory of what you might be running low on and need to replace. This does not have to take a lot of time. Quickly scan through the cupboards and fridge and make sure you have plenty of backups of the staple items. This works well for canned items or frozen items that you use occasionally.
Start with a meal plan: Figure out what you are going to have for dinner Monday through Sunday and go from there. Make sure the meals are well balanced with protein, carbohydrates, fats, and vegetables. Use recipes for inspiration and write every meal on a piece of paper. Then write down breakfast, lunch, and snacks. After a while this gets easier because you notice you eat a lot of the same things, especially for breakfast and snacks. Once you have a meal plan, make a shopping list. Group your foods into categories such as produce, meat/protein, dairy, frozen, etc. Visualize your way through the store and try to keep your list in the same order. For instance, if you go to the produce section first, this should be the first category on your list. It can be extremely helpful to make extra food a couple of nights a week and have leftovers. This can save time and money. Leftovers can also be re-purposed. For instance the crock pot shredded chicken can be made into tacos one night and enchiladas another night.
Grocery Shopping List: The next step is to make the shopping list. You can use a list template to make it easier and just circle or highlight what you need.
Grocery Store Plan: When you arrive at the grocery store you need to have a plan. Know where you are going first. Hopefully your shopping list is easy to follow and you are organized and have created categories so that you are not running back and forth trying to get all the items you need.
Saving money: On-line coupons and in store coupons can save you money. Some stores have a weekly flyer that they run with all their specials. You can sign up for this and get it via email and look through the flier as you plan your meals and make your list. This way you can take advantage of all the specials. Another great way to save is by signing up for their rewards card.
It may take a little time in the beginning, but after a few times you get more efficient at shopping. You may also start to notice that not only are you eating healthier but you are also saving time by not having to stop at the grocery store multiple times during the week. Another benefit- grocery shopping becomes easier and more enjoyable.