The Ultimate Guide to Healthy Grocery Shopping
Make better, smarter and healthier choices when you head to the grocery store with this grocery shopping guide!
Grocery shopping can be therapeutic for some and a burden to others. However, what’s undeniable is that most people have to do it at some point in their week. Good nutrition can only happen when you’re shopping smartly at the store, and you shouldn’t have to compromise on your well-being.
Today’s average grocery store can have more than 40,000 products, and it can be a maze trying to find what you need. It can be challenging to scout for healthy options, especially when you don’t want your grocery shopping to be time-consuming.
To ensure that your family is sticking to a healthy and sustainable lifestyle, shopping for healthy groceries is vital. You can save time, money and effort when shopping for groceries with the right attitude and awareness. Here’s how you can elevate your grocery shopping experience to be healthier, simpler, and more effective for your needs.
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Have a Plan
Walking into a grocery store without having a clear idea of what you need can be disastrous. You might reach for the first products you see without really knowing how they will be useful in your household. You need to have a plan before you even think of heading to the grocery store, and this can include:
- What grocery store(s) you’re heading to
- List of items you need to buy
- Any coupons/deals/promotions
- Any recipes, diets or meal plans you need to follow for the week
You should have a rough idea of the meal roster for the coming week before you go shopping. According to the 2013 Food Wastage Footprint Report by UN FAO, 1.6 billion tonnes of food is wasted each year. Having an idea of what you’re going to use beforehand can help you shop smartly and be sustainable.
Keep a Running List
You don’t have to sit down once a week to try to remember all the items you need from the grocery store. Having a running list you update throughout the week can help you save time and prevent you from forgetting anything. Whether you’ve just run out of milk or lentils, just update it to your list.
Ensure that this list is in an easy-to-reach area for your family members. It will ensure that everyone is putting down what they need from the supermarket, which can prevent excessive spending when you’re actually at the grocery store. A good place for this would be to pin it to your fridge, where everyone has easy access.
You can also think about separating your list by categories. Some categories you can include are:
- Fresh produce (fruits and vegetables)
- Dairy and bakery products
- Protein (meat, lentils, eggs)
- Frozen foods
- Pantry staples (flour, sugar, salt)
- Condiments and miscellaneous items
Don’t Forget to Read the Labels
While it may seem tedious and time-consuming to read labels, not doing so can impact your family’s well-being in the long term. Many labels can be misleading, and when you read ‘organic’ or ‘healthy’, ensure that really is the case by reading through the labels.
It’s best if you know how to properly read and understand nutrition labels to make informed choices when grocery shopping. Ideally, it is best to avoid highly processed foods and opt for fresh or less processed groceries. You should avoid foods high in preservatives, added sugars, hydrogenated oils, artificial flavours, and colours. If you can’t understand the labels, avoid buying the product.
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Don’t Go Hungry
It may sound odd, but walking into a supermarket while feeling hungry can impact how well your shopping experience goes. According to a 2018 study, ‘Effects of Hunger State on the Brain Responses’, hunger can impact our ability to think rationally. We are more likely to act impulsively when hungry, resulting in questionable grocery choices.
Ensure that you have a snack at least before you decide to enter a grocery store to stop yourself from making unhealthy choices when it comes to your groceries.
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Know Healthy Alternatives
When you don’t find an item on your grocery list, you don’t immediately need to jump to an unhealthy and processed option. Ensure that you know the healthy alternatives for any item that you find unavailable at your grocery store. You should also have a section of grocery products you can get if the ones you were originally looking for aren’t available.
Prevent Overspending and Overbuying
A 2020 report by the UN World Food Programme revealed that the average Indian spends approximately 3.5% of their daily income on a plate of food. Preventing excessive grocery spending can only happen when you’re not making impulsive decisions at the store. Many grocery stores play with the placement of their products, by placing expensive products at eye-level so you’re more tempted to buy it. They also place essential items like dairy products at the end, so you have to go through the whole grocery store, and buy more. Even something as harmless as free samples can be a marketing tactic to encourage you to buy full-sized products.
Estimating the right amount of groceries for any household can be a daunting task, but you should have a good idea of what’s consumed in your home. It’s better to buy less than buy more since you’ll avoid waste.
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When you want to save money in the long term, ensure that you check online and offline grocery stores for the best deals. Supermarkets are designed to encourage you to buy more, but you can save more and be healthier simultaneously when you shop smart.
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