Getting your nutrition in check is all about preparation. One of the key components of this is buying your food. Being smart with your grocery shopping will set you up for a great week of nutrition. Do you find you go to the grocery store more than 4 times a week? Do you often let the food you buy go bad? Here are some tips on how to grocery-shop like a pro:
1. Go in with a plan
- Give yourself time. Schedule time to come up with a list and audit your weekly nutrition needs, as well as time to actually go to the store. Think about your schedule and needs for the week. What is your work schedule like? Will you be packing lunches? Do you plan to eat out at all? Will you be feeding others?
- Make a list. You are in control of what you buy and what you eat. This is the stage where you decide what you want your nutrition to look like. It is best to come up with a meal plan, look at what you currently have, and fill in the gaps. If you aren’t specific, you are more likely to fall in the trap of impulse buys. Remember, you are in the driver’s seat!
- Be realistic. Think of your real-life future self, not an ideal future self. Don’t make your list a bunch of things that you know you won’t eat, but feel you should be eating. Unfortunately, there is no nutritional benefit to letting kale go bad in your fridge.
- What to bring with you? A full belly and a clear mind. Try not to the grocery store hungry, tired, or irritated. Bring bags that can carry the amount of food you want to buy. A great rule of thumb if you tend to overbuy is to only get what you can carry (Even if you have a car)!
2. Stick to the perimeter
- Shopping the perimeter of the grocery store (produce section, meat and dairy fridges) is a great way to ensure you buy food that is not refined or processed. In other words, it helps you in the mission to eat real food. We’ve talked about it before but it bears repeating: Real food has been alive. It either grew in the ground, fell off a tree, or had eyes. Real food has an expiry date. And real food is what is going to help you with your nutritional goals, whether they be weight gain, weight loss, general health, or athletic performance.
Don’t stray from your list. Don’t wander or linger. You are on a mission. If you see something that you feel you forgot about, try not buying it this week. Instead, write it down and add it to your next week’s list. We don’t often forget about the things we really need, especially if you take care in the planning stage.
3. The aftermath
- If you are buying real food, this usually means it is not ready-to-eat. Do as much “little” prep as you can do right away. Wash and chop vegetables, make room in your fridge, cook some meat or hard-boil eggs, or do any small parts of your meal prep plan right away. Build on that momentum of your successful grocery store shopping trip. You got this!
The goal of grocery shopping should be to make your eating choices in the future as convenient as possible. Happy shopping!