A Dietitian’s Simple Guide to Healthy Grocery Shopping
Grocery shopping can be overwhelming, time-consuming, and intimidating. But it’s a task that we all have to do on a regular basis if we want to keep our kitchen stocked, cook healthy, and not rely on less nutritious and more expensive food delivery. While it might be something that you don’t look forward to, there are ways to make it more enjoyable and stress-free. Keep reading to learn more about healthy grocery shopping tips that Registered Dietitian, Chelsea Rice, uses in her everyday life to save time, stress, and money!
BEFORE YOU GO TO THE GROCERY STORE
Make an organized list. Making a list prior to grocery shopping will help you stick to your plan and feel more confident when you’re at the store. Sorting your list by category (i.e. produce, dairy, meats, pantry items, frozen foods, etc.) will also save you so much time and money. BONUS: Download your free grocery list template HERE.
Shop your kitchen first. Before going to the store, shop your kitchen first by looking in your fridge, freezer, and pantry for items you might already have on hand. This is a great way to save money and also use up ingredients that you already have at home!
Sign up for a loyalty card or program. Not only are these types of programs great for earning points and gaining access to discounts, but some stores also keep track of what you’re buying. This can be really helpful during times when you might be in a rush or simply just want to repeat a grocery order that you’ve made in the past.
Eat a snack. You should not and I repeat… you should NOT go to the grocery store when you’re hungry. Shopping when you are hungry can lead to purchasing multiple food items that aren’t on your grocery list. Once you get home, this can lead to overeating and it also can lead to a higher grocery bill.
WHILE YOU ARE AT THE STORE
Stick to your plan. Going to the store with your grocery list is step number one. Step number two is to actually stick to your list and plan. By sticking to your list you will save time, and money, and reduce the risk of buying groceries that are not needed. Online grocery shopping is another great option if you are wanting to reduce the risk of mindlessly browsing and want to actually stick to your plan!
Become familiar with the dating system. When shopping for produce specifically, it can be irritating when your fruits and veggies go bad within a few days of purchase. Always look at the dates on the packages. You might be surprised to see two of the same products with completely different expiration dates. Pro tip: Pull products from the back of the shelf. The items that are placed towards the front of the shelf can have an earlier expiration date.
Read the food labels. What you see on the front of a package can be full of marketing tricks, which can be confusing and misleading. By looking at the nutrition facts label on the back of a food product, you’ll learn valuable information on what you’re putting into your body. Need guidance on what to look out for on a food label and what products might be best for you? Contact Chelsea for further personalized nutrition advice HERE.
Do not limit yourself to the perimeter of the store. A piece of advice you might have heard in the past is to ONLY shop the perimeter of the store to avoid processed and packaged foods. If you follow this rule, you’ll be missing out on so many nutrient-dense foods such as nuts, seeds, whole grains, and so much more. Chelsea recommends shopping the inner aisles but in a mindful way. Instead of browsing each aisle mindlessly, aim to only go down the aisles that contain items on your grocery list.
AFTER YOU GO TO THE GROCERY STORE
Unpack groceries and organize your kitchen. If you’re in a rush, you might throw the groceries quickly into the fridge, freezer, and pantry. Instead, aim to set aside a small amount of time immediately after you get home from the store to organize your groceries. Having an organized kitchen can not only help keep your home tidy, but it can also help reduce food waste and increase motivation to eat what you have on hand. We have all heard the saying, “out of sight, out of mind”. In this situation, having food out of sight might lead you to forget about it. When you have systems in place, you’re more likely to prepare and enjoy the food you bought versus caving into eating out. BONUS: Need some inspiration on what kitchen gadgets and organizational products to have on hand? Check out Chelsea’s Kitchen Favorites HERE.
Meal prep and/or mini meal prep. Meal prep can help you feel more confident in the kitchen, save you time cooking during the week, and help you reduce food costs. Meal prep doesn’t have to include cooking ALL of your meals in advance. If you are someone who doesn’t like leftovers but also doesn’t like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, doing a “mini meal prep” might be the answer for you! Mini meal prep means prepping a few things in advance, but not everything. For example, if you are planning on making a stir fry for dinner, you could pre-cut all of the veggies ahead of time and then cook them fresh. Other examples of mini meal prep include only prepping one meal (i.e. meal prepping your breakfasts in advance) or cooking side dishes in advance (i.e. cooking your rice in advance for that stir fry).
THE BOTTOM LINE
Grocery shopping doesn’t have to be complicated! By utilizing the tips above, you can save a considerable amount of time and money when shopping for healthy groceries. You can even start with just one of the strategies mentioned above and as you get more comfortable navigating the store, you can add on more to help you create healthier kitchen habits!
Chelsea Rice is the founder, owner, and content creator of NUWLi, which stands for nutrition, wellness, and lifestyle. She strives to reach individuals all over the nation with recipes, resources, and nutrition support. As a Registered Dietitian and Certified Personal Trainer, Chelsea's goal is to not only share simple, satisfying, and healthy recipes but also to provide 1:1 and group support for anyone struggling with their nutrition habits. To learn more about NUWLi and connect with Chelsea, head on over to Instagram HERE.
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