Have you ever gone into the grocery store with every intention of shopping healthy, only to walk out with $100 of frozen pizzas and Oreos? Yeah… It happens to the best of us.
While there’s nothing wrong with the occasional frozen pizza and cookie treat, if you’re trying to eat healthier, these shopping trips can’t become a habit.
Here’s how to survive the grocery store when you’re trying to eat healthy.
1. Make a plan. Before you even make your grocery list, try to figure out what your meals will be for the week. I shop for two weeks at a time. So my meal plans usually include two large dinners (enough to each last 5 meals), and 10 days of lunches, plus some snack foods, and emergency quick meals. This step seems super time-consuming, but it doesn’t have to be. Just hop on Pinterest and find some ideas. I’ll be going into more detail on meal planning and meal prep in the next couple of weeks, but until then this will have to do. J
2. Make that list, yo! Never go to the grocery store without a written/typed list. A list will help you stay focused, and it will ensure that you have everything for your recipes so you’re cutting down on last minute trips to the grocery store later. Stick to the list and cross stuff off as you go.
3. Eat before you go. Before you head out the store, eat a healthy snack or meal. Shopping on an empty stomach increases the likelihood that you’ll reach for quick, easy, and unhealthy foods. Plus, when you eat a healthy, well-balanced meal before you go, it’s a good reminder that eating healthy is important to you.
4. Stick to your budget. I always set a budget for myself before I walk into the store. With my list and my budget, if I want something that’s not on the list, it has to fit my budget. If it doesn’t, I’m not getting it. Setting a budget is reinforces that you’re taking control of what you eat and how much you are willing to spend on food.
5. Make compromises with yourself. Want chips? That’s fine, get the whole wheat ones. Craving popcorn? Go for it, but get the snack size with light butter. Ice Cream? Totally cool, grab some sugar free fruit bars or some fro-yo. You don’t have to sacrifice everything you love, but if there’s a healthier option, try it out. You might find that it satisfies your craving, even though it’s not what you’d normally get.
6. If you are going to buy a treat go small. My weakness is sour punch straws. I freaking love them. When I go to the store, I have a hard time not picking some up. Instead of reaching for the big movie theater-sized ones, I get ONE of the small packages. Eating healthy isn’t about depriving yourself. It’s about making smarter choices. Usually the things we want come in big and small sizes, so opt for the smaller size.
7. If it’s within 5 feet of the cash register, don’t pick it up. Grocery stores know how we think. They place candy, soda, and chips all around the cash registers because they know that as you’re waiting in line you are more likely to make an impulse decision to buy that stuff. Don’t be a sucker. Make a habit of not buying anything that’s kept within 5 feet of the cash register. If it’s something you really need and if it’s on your list, you can always grab it before you get to the cash register.
8. If you don’t need to go down a certain aisle, don’t! There’s no rule that says you have to go down every single aisle before you leave the store. If you’re using your list, only go to an aisle if it’s corresponds to an item on your list.
So there you have it. As you can see, most of this revolves around a plan. It takes a little more time than impulsive shopping, but you actually save money and it helps you stick to balanced eating, so if you ask me it’s worth the extra time!
Do you make a list when you go grocery shopping? What are your tips for avoiding unhealthy impulse buys at the store?