Overcoming the Top Grocery Shopping Mistakes

With the end of summer bringing back to school and some of use going back to work, it’s time to get back on track with eating. Grocery shopping lays the groundwork for healthy eating habits. How many times have you come home from work at the end of the days with intentions on eating healthy to find no ingredients in sight, resolving to ordering take-out? You eat what you buy, so it’s time to stock up and make it good! Don’t fall on these grocery store mistakes…
Mistake 1: Not starting in the right department
Many of you have probably heard the age old advice to shop the perimeter of the grocery store. Well I’m going to reinforce this. The produce department should be the first stop on your shopping excursion. Just like you should fill up the majority of your dinner plate with veggies – fresh produce should take priority in your cart. Load up on vegetables to make salad, vegetables for roasting and cooking, plus vegetables to snack on throughout the day quickly and easily. Don’t forget in season fruit like apples and pears! Nothing more delicious to hit that sweet tooth midafternoon! 

Mistake 2: Skipping the frozen & canned foods
Fresh food is fantastic, but frozen and canned versions are often just as nutritious and more affordable. When it comes to fish and meat counters, most of that stuff was frozen then thawed at some point. So unless you’re going to cook it right away, you might be better off grabbing it from the freezer. And frozen fruit and vegetables are typically flash frozen at their peak, so they may be even more nutrient dense than their produce department counterparts. As for canned foods, beans are a quick-cooking must, tomatoes are a recipe staple, and tuna is a ready-to-eat protein source we can’t do without. If you’re concerned about contaminants, look for cans labeled BPA-free.    

Mistake 3: Simply skimming the nutritional info
We know, you have a busy life, but take the time to read over nutritional panels and ingredient lists before tossing products into your cart. Many people think they absorb the info on the panels, but they only scan and miss the servings per container and/or serving size. That low fat claim across the front could equal twice as much sodium or sugar you planned on having for the day. 

Mistake 4: Shopping when hungry 
Have you ever stopped at the store on your way home from work before dinner and come home with twice as much as you planned? Never go shopping when you are hungry. When you are hungry you get cravings and if you go shopping when you get cravings, you will end up buying a lot of more food, especially unhealthy junk food. When you are at your hungriest, everything is much more appetizing than normal. This will kill both your diet and budget.

Mistake 5: Shopping while distracted
Like the grocery shopping no-no above, you’re more likely to make spontaneous bad-for-you purchases than you would if you are distracted. Talking on the phone? Chances are, you’ll neglect reading those labels. Crunched for time, and focused on getting out fast? You’re likely to forget the staples you really need. Avoid multi-tasking on your mind so you can stick to your plan.    

Mistake 6: Shopping without a list
Preparation is everything. One of the best ways to figure out what you need to buy at the store is to plan out what you’re going to eat for the upcoming week. Who are you cooking for? What recipes are you going to make? How many healthy snacks do you need? Sit down, figure out what the coming days hold for you, and make a plan. Check out my quick swaps below to stock-up the next time you shop!

  • Instead of full fat milk, use lower fat milk, unsweetened soy or milk alternative .  
  • Instead of mayo or sour cream, use reduced Greek yogurt. 
  • Instead of oil or artificial sprays, use natural non-stick cooking spray.  
  • Instead of rice, get some cauliflower rice. 
  • Instead of standard refined sugar or artificial sweetener, use maple syrup or natural no-calorie sweetener like stevia or monk fruit extract.  
  • Instead of pasta, use spaghetti squash and zucchini noodles. 
  • Instead of regular peanut butter, use no additive almond/ nut butter or powdered peanut butter.
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