Painless Grocery Shopping Strategies
There are two types of people in the world – those that LOVE to grocery shop (me!) and those that DREAD it (most people). If you are part of the latter group, I have put together some strategies to make your life a bit easier. When embarking out on your grocery journey, it is important to find a store that is a “one-stop shop”. If you are going to multiple stores to do your grocery shopping, it is very likely you are going to get distracted, pick up one too many “snacks” that don’t need to be in your pantry, and likely overspend as well.
Have A Plan.
Walk into the grocery store confident and ready to get what you need. Grocery shopping (like most shopping) should be premeditated and purposeful. This will help prevent you from impulse buying junk food, or food that will later lead to over snacking back at the house. The best way to create a fail-proof plan is to make a list and then plan an attack route once inside the store. This strategy will keep you focused on the task at hand, and will serve for a much quicker and painless grocery trip.
Make A List, Check It Twice.
Take a lesson out of the big guy’s playbook here and be sure to make a list before leaving the house, then check it over. Write your list down… ON PAPER. Making the list on your phone and constantly referring back to it while in the store will often lead to distractions while there. I like to go as far as making a list by macronutrient category (I like organization). So, my list usually starts with fruits and vegetables, followed by meats/protein, followed by carbohydrate options, then added fats that I need, and finally finishing with boxed/canned pantry items, condiments, and snacks. Doing this will ensure that you have all of your bases covered. If you are planning on making a special dish this week, double check that you have included all of its ingredients. Organizing your list this way will help ensure you have plenty of options for the upcoming week’s meal prep and snack grabs, while also keeping you from getting distracted while actually in the store.
PRO-TIP: If you are shopping in a superstore (like Wal-Mart) that has other household items as well, those go at the END of your list. Get all of your food shopping out of the way before moving on to non-food items. This will prevent confusion and allow you to focus better while picking up groceries.
Have A Snack, Bring A Drink.
If you are an impulse grocery shopper (see something delicious on the shelf and grab it because you want to try it) this trick will help you. NEVER, I will repeat, NEVER go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. Bad choices will be made, I promise. Make sure you have a meal or snack before leaving the house in order to stay focused on the task at hand. That task is grocery shopping for the week ahead, not your current empty stomach. In addition to that, it is smart to bring a bottle of water, some hot tea, or even your favorite coffee drink along with you. This will keep your taste buds and stomach occupied while you get in and get out of your grocery trip successfully.
Every grocery store is set up differently, so it is likely that you will get into your own routine based on your particular store of choice. However, most stores follow a similar flow. Start right in the front of the entrance in produce. Go through your list and collect the fruits and veggies that you have listed. Potatoes and avocados are included here, as well as additives/spices like onions and garlic. Next is usually the bakery section where you can pick up some English muffins, bread, or wraps. Following behind that is almost always the deli and meat/fish sections where you can get the items of that category that you included on your protein list. After that, head to the dairy section to pick up eggs, egg whites, yogurt, and any other dairy item you may have written down. Your list should be 85-90% checked off by now, all we have left are the finishing touches. Attack the frozen foodsection next. Some of my staple convenience items are found here such as frozen veggies for emergencies, or frozen fruit for smoothies. Finally, it is time to go down the isles. Here is where your plan and your list helps. It is easy to get distracted in the isles and end up camping out in the cookie or chips aisle. Don’t do that. Instead, go through the items you have left on your list and find them one by one in the isles (oatmeal, rice, granola bars, cereal, ketchup, canned items, frozen yogurt, etc) – get them in your cart and get out! Once this is complete, move on to household/non-food items if needed.
Repeat The Same Route.
If this worked well for you, repeat it. Every, single, time you are in the grocery store repeat this process. When you find a plan, a list, and a store route that was successful and painless, just continue to use it. We are creatures of habit and often find the most success and stability in routine. Grocery shopping is no different. Purposeful and goal driven grocery shopping is the best way to ensure you get in and get out painlessly while still stocking up on all the week’s essentials.
Author: Nicole Roggow, Black Iron Nutrition Coach, @nicoleroggow