Every Sunday afternoon, I look forward to my weekly grocery run. Forget walls filled with colorful shoes–give me a produce section overflowing with ripe vegetables, and I’ll be raving about it all week. There is something about a grocery haul that leaves you not only full and satisfied for the week but also feeling accomplished.
Don’t get me wrong, I was not always this girl. I used to dread grocery shopping. The lines, the overwhelming selection, and don’t get me started on the price of fruit. I would leave the store feeling like I spent too much money and had no meal plan to show for it. The good news? We’re here to change that. Read on for the hacks healthy women always use while grocery shopping.
1. Write a grocery list
This might be the biggest saving hack when it comes to grocery shopping, and it’s so easy! Not only will writing a list save you from overbuying food that ends up being thrown out, but it will also help you determine what items you can use for multiple meals, especially if you are buying for just yourself. Simply figure out what you want to cook for the week and then see where items can be used more than once. Once you have that down, you’ll be saving money and food.
2. Never shop on an empty stomach
When your blood sugar drops, your body wants immediate relief. If that happens when you’re grocery shopping, it can mean adding more sugary and salty snacks to your cart that you probably don’t need. While we’ve all been guilty of this at some point, try to schedule your grocery shopping after you have eaten to avoid spending more money than you need.
3. Shop in season
Our bodies naturally crave fruits and vegetables that are in season, and it’s important to honor that. In-season produce tastes better and is usually cheaper. If it’s summer, stock up on peaches, cherries, and other stone fruits that are sweet and provide extra energy. Or opt for vegetables such as peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes that are great for a summer salad. In the winter, try citrus fruits, which are high in vitamin C and great for fighting colds and the flu, as well as vegetables you can add to soups, such as squash, sweet potato, and carrots.
4. Read the nutrition label
The food industry is very good at hiding what they put into products, which is why it’s so important to read the nutrition label. When an item says “low sodium” or “sugar-free” on it, there could be other not-so-good-for-you ingredients lurking in them, like other forms of sugars or added toxins. If you are unsure about a product and can’t pronounce half its ingredients, see if there is a healthier alternative. The best part about the food industry today is that there are many alternatives. Stores such as Thrive Market or Whole Foods (while a little pricey) might have cleaner substitutes.
5. Don’t underestimate frozen produce
While I consider the frozen section one of the more indulgent aisles in the grocery store (frozen pizza and ice cream always call my name), it also contains some hidden gems, such as frozen produce. Of course, we love our produce fresh, but produce doesn’t always last through the week, so always having some frozen veggies and fruit on hand is a must (stir fry or smoothie, anyone?). Plus, they will keep for a long time, so you don’t have to worry about them spoiling anytime soon.
6. Opt for grass-fed and organic meat and dairy
You know the saying, “You are what you eat?” Well, it couldn’t be any more relevant than when it comes to shopping for meat and dairy products. It may not shock you that not all animals are treated the same or fed just grass, which is why it’s important to select meat products thoroughly. Yes, it is more expensive to buy organic and grass-fed, but this is one of the areas most experts agree is worth splurging on. Read the labels and shop local if it’s available as well.
7. Know your splurges versus savings
Like anything in life, there are areas where you splurge and areas where you save. When it comes to grocery shopping, this applies as well. Consider splurging on meat products, dairy, and the dirty dozen (the highest pesticide-sprayed crops, so you’ll ideally want to buy them organic). If you’re looking to save a little for the higher-priced organic options mentioned, buy seasonings as well as nuts and seeds in bulk. You can also save on canned goods and broths.
8. Choose healthy and filling snacks
I am a huge snacker. Mid-morning, later afternoon–you name it, I’m snacking. While you should always eat when you’re hungry instead of based on times of day (that’s called intuitive eating!), snacking can often mean packaged foods high in sugar, added toxins, and sodium. Plan ahead for snack time by buying healthy and filling snacks that will keep you satisfied. Some game-changers are hummus with crackers or vegetables, popcorn, mixed nuts, or greek yogurt with berries.
9. Don’t overshop
Figuring out portion sizes is never easy (I always struggle with pasta). And while we don’t want to have to make multiple trips to the grocery store because we didn’t buy enough, we don’t want to overshop either. Survey what you already have at home before heading to the store, and keep the mindset that less is more. While certain items can be kept in the freezer or last beyond their in-store expiration date, fresh produce has a shelf life, so make sure you are only buying what you need to reduce food waste and to only spend the money you need to.
10. Shop for your body
The world of health and wellness is full of many options, and when it comes to choosing items at the grocery store, it’s important to listen to your body above all other advice. Even foods that are considered “healthy” might make not make you feel good, or vice versa. Figure out what works and doesn’t work for your body and shop according to that information first and foremost.