Grocery shopping is easily one of the most daunting activities when it comes to taking control of your health and fitness. Showing up at the gym is easy. The workout is already written for you. All you have to do is put in the sweat time. But going to the store and deciding what to put in your cart? Now that takes some serious planning and research. You should always show up with a plan. Just winging it won’t do. If you’ve ever wondered how some people just seem to dominate the grocery store (you know the ones, they’re strolling down the aisle laser-focused with a list in hand), then check out the below five habits. Chances are they’re working one, if not all, of these into their grocery shopping routine.
Ah, yes. Labels. We’re going there. Learning to read a nutrition label is KEY to establishing savvy grocery shopping behavior. If you’re new to the game, then stick to this simple strategy — don’t buy it if you can’t pronounce it. Many products have a TON of ingredients meant to preserve shelf life. If you see a long list of ingredients you can’t pronounce, then your best bet is to put it back. Stick to the perimeter of the store. That’s where you’ll likely find the most wholesome foods.
Brainstorm what you want to buy beforehand. Look up recipes, go over your nutrition plan and map out what you need to buy. Savvy grocery shoppers know all the details before they step foot inside the store. They know how many meals they need to make, how many snacks they need to have and whether or not they’re low on La Croix . There should be no surprises when you arrive at the store because you already know exactly what you need to buy.
Savvy grocery shoppers don’t shop hungry. Ever. Going to the grocery store when you haven’t had anything to eat in five hours and you’re craving a candy bar is just a recipe for disaster. If you don’t have time to sit down and have a meal before you go to the store, then munch on something small like almonds — or have a few bites of a meal you prepped for later in the day. Slightly curbing your hunger so you don’t show up at the store ravenous will save you the shame of buying foods you know won’t serve you later.
Stocking your shopping cart with quality items requires some legwork. Like we said, ‘winging it’ won’t cut it. Before you head to the store, make a list of items you plan on buying. Get super organized and categorize those items by where they’ll be in the grocery store. Map out where you’ll buy your proteins, vegetables, carbs and fats. After making a list several times, take note of recurring items. Do you always buy iced coffee? Is almond milk always in your ‘fridge? Do you like a certain brand of almonds? Keep this list handy so you can always grab it in a pinch.
Having the perfect grocery store strategy is tough. It doesn’t happen overnight. It happens by continuously modifying and tweaking what you put in your cart, and making note of what works and what doesn’t work. Pay close attention to your portions. Is there a bag of spinach that always goes bad? Buy a smaller quantity next time. Do you always run out of eggs in the middle of week? Buy the extra large carton next time. In time, you’ll get your list down pat and grocery shopping will become an experience that is less daunting (and maybe even a little therapeutic!)