Grocery shopping. Some of us love going to the supermarket, and strolling up and down the aisles, leisurely looking at all the different options, while others of us can’t stand it, and would avoid grocery shopping if we could. Whichever side you belong to, or if you’re somewhere in between, we could all use some handy tips when it comes to both saving money at the store, and buying healthier options.
That’s why we put together 15 pointers that will make your grocery shopping trip more efficient. Armed with this information, you will save money, avoid artificial and unhealthy items, and feel more empowered about what you purchase and eat. Make sure to share this info with your friends and family too! Great knowledge should definitely be passed along!
Shop Along the Perimeters
This first shopping tip is a real eye-opener and will affect how you view the supermarket forever. It is encouraged to shop the perimeter of the grocery store. Why? Because, if you take a look, you will see that all the fresh, natural, and real food resides here. Produce, meat, dairy, and bread. Now look at what’s at the heart, or center, of the store: cookies, candies, chips, and all other sorts of packaged crap. Mainly keeping to the outside edges of the supermarket will help you shop smarter and healthier.
Don’t Shop When You’re Hungry
Another thing to keep in mind is to not shop while you are hungry! If you do, chances are that you will buy more food than you planned to, and/or buy food that looks tasty. And we all know how many different foods look great but are so bad for you!
Mix and Match Stores for the Best Deals and Items
Although each supermarket is pretty complete, you’ll find that you can really get all the specific items you want by buying from different stores. And the best deals. For example, you may go to a general supermarket for the bulk of your groceries, then supplement that buy with specific health food options from a store like Trader Joe’s or Sprouts. Or vice versa.
Have a Plan
One of the most important things you can do when grocery shopping is having a plan. Have a list of the items you want to buy, so you won’t be running around the store aimlessly. If you’re super organized, you can even arrange the list by aisle or area of the store for even more efficiency. Another good idea is to have a meal plan for the week or month since that will let you know what specific items to buy. Next level? Create your meal plan around your store’s weekly ad for extra savings!
Don’t Buy Shredded Cheese
This may sound random, but you shouldn’t buy shredded cheese. A lot of packaged shredded queso contain cellulose, which is basically wood pulp. Yes, you read that correctly, wood pulp. Instead, buy a cheese made from all natural ingredients and shred it yourself. It makes for a safer, but healthier alternative. Or, if you must buy pre-shredded cheese, make sure it doesn’t have this ingredient in it!
Read the Labels
Which leads us into our next handy grocery shopping tip: always read labels. Yes, it slows things down a bit, but the time you take to read the ingredients and nutritional values in what you are buying is worth it. You want to make sure the food you are eating (and the personal care products you use) are as natural as possible. Two good tips are: if you can’t pronounce the ingredients, put it back! Is it something your ancestors would recognize as food? If not, put it back!
Unlearn Loyalty to Mainstream Brands
There are so many name brands we grew up with and have been conditioned to grab at the grocery store. Remember your favorite cereal as a kid? Or all the frozen food you’ve eaten in adolescence? How about the fruit juices, cookies, chips, and candies? If you look closely at the labels, you will find all these mainstream options are loaded with sugar, chemicals, and other unhealthy ingredients. Start shifting to healthier, more natural alternatives. Smart tip: don’t buy food that has a commercial; chances are it’s not good for you.
Use those Coupons
Have you watched the reality show Extreme Couponing? It features families who combine tons of coupons with the grocery store’s own deals to get hundreds of dollars of merchandise for dollars, pennies, or sometimes free. Sometimes they’re owed money. While you don’t have to dedicate all your free time to clipping coupons, whatever coupons you do have will help you save money. Combine manufacturer coupons with store deals, and use the coupons that print out during your purchases!
Buy Organic and Natural Whenever You Can
Chemicals and unnatural ingredients in food (or anywhere, for that matter) can wreak havoc on your body. Treat your system right by eating natural, healthy food. Go for options that aren’t packaged, but rather is fresh. Aim for a mostly plant-based diet for optimal health, and reach for whole foods instead of things that come in boxes, bags, and wrappers.
Stock Up on Sale and Clearance Items
If you noticed at grocery stores, oftentimes, clearance items will be stocked on the endcaps (end of aisles). Take a look at these deals, and buy what you need — you can save some money on items you were going to get anyway. Also, if there are store specials on other items, like buy one, get one free, or just a good discount, go ahead and stock up for even more savings.
Learn the Different Names for Sugar
Food companies can be tricky, finding all kinds of clever ways to sneak sugar into everyday items, like ketchup, yogurt, and juices. Not only should you look on the label for the number of grams of sugar in any product you buy, but you should check out the list of ingredients. There are a ton of different names for sugar, many ending in -ose. Check out the list above for more monikers.
Skip the Pre-Cut Fruits and Veggies
I know, it’s super convenient to get fruit and vegetables that are pre-cut. But when you do this, you are paying extra for the service, and the packaging (not to mention packaging that is bad for the environment!). You also have no way of knowing if the food is organic. The better option is to buy organic veggies and food, cut them up yourself, and tote them in reusable containers (preferably glass).
Shop Some at the Farmer’s Market
If there is a farmer’s market in your area, check it out! It’s a good way to get super fresh produce, small batch foods you wouldn’t get anywhere else, and support your local farms and small businesses. It’s also a great way to get some sunshine and walking into your day — an added bonus!
Tech is everywhere, and it has its advantages. Like online shopping. Getting your groceries online (and other household items) allows you to calmly look around your home and see what you need, take the time to price compare and look at product information, not get distracted as you would in a store, and have everything delivered to your front door.
Plan for Meatless Days
Buying meat at the grocery store can be expensive. Eating too much meat is unhealthy. Why not make a simple change that will save you money and save your health? By designating a meatless day (or several), you will be purchasing less meat and putting the focus on healthier foods, like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.