We can all use a little help staying away from the colorful chips and cookies aisle that may lure us away from the produce section as soon as we enter the grocery store. In case your yearly resolution involves healthier eating, here are some tools to help you stay on course. Perhaps there should be an aisle dedicated to organic, gluten-free, baked lentil chips and the like? One can dream.
1. Know the basic layout of a grocery store and plot your course accordingly
Generally, the healthier options are stored along the borders of the store where most of the fresh produce is kept. Vegetables, fruits, fresh meat, seafood, cheeses (not processed and pre-packaged).
2. The bulk aisle contains some of the healthiest food options
: Dried beans and lentils are usually in this aisle and they have significant health benefits (without breaking the bank). There are also nuts and grains you can buy in bulk on a budget such as brown rice, forbidden rice, quinoa, raw almonds, seeds, and more.
3. Canned and frozen foods are not your enemy.
As long as you read the labels to ensure that what you are considering doesn't include any added salt or weird ingredients, you can have your share of canned goods such as tomatoes, for those delicious dishes you want to add a spectacular sauce to. Frozen fruits (berries, please!) are also great options, especially for your healthy smoothies. They have tons of organic frozen and canned options, also.
4. Come prepared with a thorough list.
If you are familiar with the experience of staring blankly at the cereal wall (knowing you never even eat cereal) as you scan your memory for the contents of the fridge and cupboards, then making a list is a priority! It is a time and money saver.
5. Ask your grocer where the local items are.
Most grocery stores these days will have a few local produce items in stock, that even tell a story of which farm they're from. These are generally fresher (less travel time), seasonal and cheaper. Bonus being they could be a fruit or vegetable you're not be familiar with; local variety is the spice of life!
6. Know your nutrition label facts.
Nutrition labels can be confusing, they are usually created to make you believe you are consuming fewer calories than you are. The facts are listed as a per serving basis; A serving of chips for 100 calories could actually mean you only get to eat 7 chips to make up that calorie count. Be smart and get familiar with this information before shopping.
7. Grab a smaller shopping basket.
Smaller basket, less products that you don't need. Not rocket science, right? But you would be surprised at how much more efficient it is to shop this way. You will likely only buy enough produce that you can consume within the time that it should be eaten. Of course, there is also less room to fit in a pint of ice-cream.
8. As much as possible, avoid rush hour at the grocery store.
Idle time waiting in-line around so many pre packaged sweet and salty goodies can easily sideline your healthy shopping efforts. With a list in hand, and an 'off' time to shop, you're sure to get in and get out with only what you need!
Taking charge of your grocery shopping experience with these tips will lead to money and time saved and better choices overall. Happy shopping!
Larissa Gomes is a breast cancer survivor and single mom to her spirited baby boy! Originally from Toronto turned Angeleno, she has worked in roles from writer, actor and producer for well over a decade. In that time, she's developed concepts, film and television screenplays, short stories, along with freelance articles, blogging and editing work.