7 Healthy Tips For Navigating The Grocery Store

by Emma on November 15, 2011

in Health & Nutrition,Thinking Ahead

Every so often we get distracted when buying food. We put way too much in our shopping trolley, we buy a packet of chips just because we’re hungry at the time, we buy something because it’s on special, or we wander around aimlessly trying to figure out what to make for dinner. Here are seven tips to save you time and your waistline!

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1. Stick to the outside of the supermarket, not the centre aisles.

Have you ever noticed how all the fresh produce, like fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat, and fish are usually on the perimeter of the supermarket and the packaged foods are all on the inside aisles? We all know that fresh and unrefined foods are the best for us, so stick to the outside of the store and you’ll generally get the biggest nutrition bang for your buck! (There is one exception: the frozen section. Stick to just the frozen version of what you’d find in the perimeter of the store).

2. Plan your meals in advance so you don’t have to shop every day.

Sit down at the start of the week and figure out what you are likely to cook for dinners or take to work for lunch. You don’t have to get your spread sheet out (if you want to, go ahead!), but with a little thinking ahead and creating a list, you will decrease the amount of times you need to go to the supermarket, saving you precious time. Buying things in bulk or family packs can also help you save money. Anything you don’t think you’ll get through straight away can be put in the freezer for later.

3. Make a list before you head to the shops.

If you write a shopping list, you’re more likely to stick to it and go straight for the things you need. If you’re well-planned and disciplined you can avoid the seductive calls from the junk food aisles and save yourself (and your family) from empty calories. Out of sight, out of mind. You’ll also be able to zip in and out of there in no time. There are many Smartphone apps that can help you get organised with a list, and even some that tell you where to find items in the supermarket!

4. Don’t shop when you’re hungry.

When you’re hungry, you tend to not think straight. And if you’re in the supermarket, this leads to poor food choices and buying decisions. You’re more likely to pick up things that are quick and easy to prepare or unhealthier snack foods because you want to eat it straight away. If you’re in the risky zone and feel slightly peckish, have a glass of water or an apple before you go.

5. Get educated on what’s good for you and what’s not and learn how to read nutritional labels.

This will help you by food that is more “real” and less refined with fewer additives. Once you start taking an interest in the things you’re putting in your mouth, you may realise that some of the things you thought were healthy, really aren’t. Steer clear of the foods that have ingredients you can’t pronounce or have an ingredient list so long you don’t even have time to read it. Check out our article Decoding Food Labels for more great information.

6. Don’t even navigate the grocery store at all.

Try the local market instead of the big supermarket chains. They will often have fresher produce that has less of a carbon footprint (meaning you are closer to the source of the food). This means it’s not only healthier and more nutritious for you, but better for the environment too. You’ll also only get produce that is in season (meaning it hasn’t been stored in massive freezers for 6 months of more!) and is more nutritionally dense.

7. Understand portion sizes and how much you really need to buy.

Some of us really don’t need to eat the amount of food we do. Most of us are guilty at one time or another of eating because it tastes good, not necessarily because our body requires it. But we do have to enjoy life, right? Understanding when we’ve indulged is the key (and we shouldn’t do it too often). Be realistic about what you’ll eat when shopping and don’t fall for the “eyes are too big for your stomach” trick! This will not only eliminate wastage at the kitchen table but it could help you lose that extra kilogram or two as well.

Do you have any tips that have been missed?

Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/spine/558333048

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