What is your relationship with grocery shopping? Is it a love-hate situation? Just complicated? You can’t stand each other??? Maybe it’s time for an intervention! Grocery shopping is something that everyone has to do to, well, survive, but it shouldn’t have to feel like an uphill battle every time you need to restock the fridge. Use these tips and techniques to successfully navigate your grocery store, pick the best products, organize your cart and even save some money – all while keeping your sanity in tact. Before you know it, your relationship with grocery shopping will be mended, and you will conquer the supermarket with success.
THE GAME PLAN
When you were a child, going to the grocery store with your mom or dad was an event. Being surrounded by a plethora of food was a dream, and begging for a treat was your only priority. Now, as an adult, shopping for groceries can be a nightmare! Navigating endless aisles and avoiding junk food all while staying on budget can be daunting –but it shouldn’t have to be! Here are some helpful ways to navigate your grocery store.
When you are planning your shopping list, research the store’s weekly deals so that you are prepared when you come across something that looks like a good deal. For example, at Whole Foods, most of the sales reset every Wednesday, according to wholefoodsmarket.com, so do some research before you shop! This will prevent you from spending your money on junk food or food that you don’t really need. Save that money for the fresh, healthier options that every store has.
DON’T SHOP WHEN YOU’RE HUNGRY
It happens all the time. You rush to the grocery store after work to do the grocery shopping for the week because you’ve already put it off long enough. The afternoon was so busy, you didn’t get to have an afternoon snack and you walk into the grocery store, stomach already gurgling and ready for dinner. You leave the store with more food than you anticipated and $75 over budget.
If this scenario sounds like you, it’s probably because you are shopping while you are hungry. Sometimes it’s hard to find the time to go grocery shopping, but whenever you do, try eating a meal or a snack before you go. Going grocery shopping while you are hungry is one of the worst things you can do because when you are hungry, everything looks good. This could make you pick up things in the grocery store that you wouldn’t normally buy if you weren’t hungry.
Also, when you are snacky while shopping, you are more tempted to pick up a box of cheese snacks or a bag of chips for the drive home or for a pre-dinner snack. For your next grocery trip, try planning to go on one of your less-hectic days and go after you eat a meal or a hearty snack. This will make shopping while being surrounded by delish food easier to manage, and you will save money, too!
SHOP THE PERIMETER
Next, get into the habit of shopping the perimeter of the store. This means that you avoid going up and down the aisles. “The idea behind this is that the perimeter of the grocery store is usually healthy, less processed foods,” according to the John Hopkins Patient Guide to Diabetes, an online health resource. “Think fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, dairy products, eggs, and meats/seafood/poultry.” All of these items are usually located around the perimeter of the store, and you can usually get everything you need in those areas. Also, because the foods around the perimeter is more fresh, you can get customized amounts of food. Meats, cheeses and bakery items can be wrapped up by pound or amount, so you won’t be taking home more than you need. This will minimize food waste at your house.
When you start to venture into the isles of a store, you enter into the world of preservatives and boxed foods. Of course there are some healthy options in the aisles like natural nut butters, whole grains and dried fruits, but they are few and far between. Shopping the perimeter will fill your cart with fresh ingredients to take home.
TIPS & TRICKS
Stocking up on produce is a healthy choice, but make sure you store it right.
ON THE COUNTER
Onions, potatoes, tomatoes and garlic can stay in a cool and dry place, but not in the fridge. You can do the same with squashes.
GREENS FOR DAYS
When you bring home leafy greens, wash them immediately, wrap them in a paper towel and store in a sealed baggie or container in the fridge. This will keep them fresh longer and make them more convenient to use because they’re already washed.
If you have any produce that is already cut, it must be stored in the fridge.
If you bought an excess amount of produce, and you know you won’t get to it before it goes bad, you can freeze it! Cutting up and freezing your veggies makes them easy to cook later, and they work great to throw in to soups or stews.
We’ve all had days where we’re in the grocery store, wandering up and down the aisles, grabbing things off the shelf and hoping they’ll make a meal. They might not be meals, but at least you have a few healthy things in there, right? But even the healthiest things you grab may not be the best for you. Grocery stores follow their own set of rules, and these rules vary from store to store. Here’s a few tips and tricks to have a plan while you shop and how to find the healthiest picks for you!
If you’re trying to watch your sodium intake, it’s important to be mindful of what brands use natural preservatives. Some stores boast being artificial preservative free, but while they may be rid of extra chemicals, they’re high in sodium. Sodium is a natural preservative, so it keeps their products fresher for longer, but might not be the additive you’re looking for.
Want to make sure that you’re grabbing one of the freshest loaves of bread off the shelf or adding perfectly ripe apples to your cart,
don’t go for the items at eye-level. When stocking new bakery items and produce, grocery stores push the items that have been there the longest towards the front and bring them to eye-level so that people will grab them first. To get the freshest bread, look for the ones on the bottom of the stack or the back of the shelf. For the freshest produce, try reaching for the ones that are higher up or harder to reach in the display.
When it comes to getting the freshest meats from the grocery store, there are a few things to look out for. Make sure to check the expiration date (you can use the previous expiration date trick for meats, too!), the color of the meat and to make sure that the packaging is cold to the touch. If you’re looking for the healthiest cuts of meat to go for, it’s good to look at what’s written on the packaging. The cuts will be leaner if they’re labelled “choice” or “select,” versus “prime,” which will be fattier.
CHECK THE LABEL
Marketers are really good at pulling us in with nice designs and healthy promises. But, being able to look past the intrigue of the products’ touting extra protein, Omega 3 or being organic is a necessary evil if you’re watching your weight. Just because they are promoting one positive quality, doesn’t mean the whole food is good for you. So, always double check the label for quality ingredients.
When you start to check the labels on your groceries, one thing you’ll find is that sugars and carbs are often hiding in your seemingly healthy snack. A few places that you might find sugars disguised are in white bread, fruit juices, canned or dried fruit, low-fat salad dressing, ketchup, barbecue sauce and flavored yogurts, just to name a few!
THE FRIDGE MENTALITY
The next time you look at your cart and realize that amongst other things you picked up four types of cheese and only one small bag of broccoli, think of how your fridge is laid out. The fruit and veggie drawers are often bigger than the cheese drawer. If you notice that you have tons of meats and cheeses, but your fruits and veggies are seriously lacking, maybe swing back around to the produce section before leaving!
SPLIT UP YOUR CART
One way to help with the fridge mentality is by sectioning off your grocery cart into groups of produce, meats, deli items and others to allow you to more easily see what you have in your cart and can help with on-the-spot meal prepping.
PLAN BEFORE PURCHASING
To avoid those mindless wanders around the store, choose a few specific meals you want to make during the week. Actually take the time to write down all the items you will need for the meals in a grocery list and checking before you leave for what ingredients you may already have lying around the house. Keeping a running grocery list in your phone’s “Reminders” app will also allow you to check off the items once you’ve added them to your cart and is easy to update on-the-go!
HOW TO WRITE A GOOD GROCERY LIST
Some grocery stores, like Publix, have online shopping list generators that allow you to build a list, and the generator will separate your list into different sections on the grocery store for you so you know exactly where to go.
When hand writing a shopping list, group your items into sections like deli, bakery, produce, dairy and meats. This will allow you to effectively shop without traveling back and forth from one end of the store to the other.
Taking a trip to the grocery store to fill up the fridge and pantry is a chore we all have to do. But, it can be easy to get stuck in a rut by going to the same grocery store, week after week. Thankfully, in Gainesville, we have options a plenty! Switch it up a little by visiting a locally owned grocery store or the newest addition to the community. On a week when the fridge is nearing empty, but you don’t have time to go to the store, many grocery stores also have a delivery or curbside pickup option. Fill your online shopping cart and pick it up on the way home from work. Whether in person or ordering online, Gainesville has an abundance of grocery stores for you to shop at.
Two locations in Gainesville, visit the store finder to discover yours!
- Home grocery delivery available with Instacart.
3045 SW 34th St. Suite 30, Gainesville, FL 32608 (352) 376-4803
Whole Foods Market
3490 SW Archer Rd, Gainesville, FL 32608 (352) 244-8302
- Home grocery delivery available with Prime Now.
300 SW 16th Ave, Gainesville, FL 32601 (352) 336-9700
- Home grocery delivery available with SHIPT.
1349 NW 23rd Ave, Gainesville, FL 32605 (352) 371-3085