Shop Smarter: Grocery Store
Growing up, helping my mom do the family grocery shopping was always a welcomed chore. It was a win-win, as I came off as the dutiful daughter when she needed the extra hands--shopping for a family of six was not such a quick trip-- while I secretly loved it (any excuse to put off homework, right?).
Going to the store with my mom prepared me well when it came to living on my own. It became very apparent to me how much more affordable it was to buy groceries and cook for myself than it was to eat out all the time. She also taught me how to be efficient. Trust me, I could (and have) spend multiple hours at the grocery store, but most days I just don't have that kinda time. So here I am compiling my best tips for grocery shopping on a budget, on a time crunch, and on track with your healthy lifestyle goals!
- Make a list - whether you are a meal prepper or an ingredient prepper, making a shopping list before you go will keep you on task rather than be one of those people who wander aimlessly around the store getting in everyone's way.
- Don't shop hungry - if you do, you will buy everything in site. and you will regret it. Trust me.
- Produce is primary - load up on your fresh fruits and veggies first. Filling up your cart/basket with produce first will leave little to no room for the less healthy foods (and if you're holding your basket, your arms will be so tired by the end that you wont even think about trolling the snack isle!)
- Shop fresh, local, organic where possible - I know it can get expensive (but really, spend more now on foods that prevent the need for medical costs in your future!) so if you can’t buy everything from your farmers market, at least aim for the "dirty dozen" (link to a print-out listed at end).
- Minimize packaged foods, but when you do buy them, the fewer ingredients the better - if you can't pronounce an ingredient, or can't at least make an educated guess as to what it is, you're probably better off without it.
- Know what to stock up on and what to buy weekly - Personally, I like to make one larger trip per month, and then smaller trips as I run out of fresh produce. Produce should be bought weekly so that you are consuming it while it is freshest and most nutritious. Things like frozen fruits and veggies, grains, canned beans, nut & seeds/butters, nut milks, eggs and even breads (you can keep in freezer) can be bought 1x per month and hold longer.
Produce "Dirty Dozen" - these 12 crops are the most commonly treated with pesticides, GMOs, and other toxic materials. If you have to pick and choose what you buy local organic, make it these!
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