The title of this may seem a bit strange since all grocery shopping is going into a store and buying stuff, but in reality grocery shopping needs to be MUCH more than this. Since I work at Walmart some days of the week (I don’t work for them), I see constantly what people buy as groceries, and I am generally less than impressed. Call me a food snob or what have you, but I see people loading up on sodas and nothing but junk, junk, junk. What they think is healthy actually isn’t. This tells me people have no clue how to eat and have no clue how to shop for groceries. And I know Walmart isn’t the friendliest of places to shop, but it is affordable for a lot of people living in areas with few options.
I, for one, LOVE grocery shopping. I love being able go in and select my own healthful choices to make healthful meals. I also love seeing the amount of organic foods that are coming out in Walmart, so like with Sephora and new make-up lines, I like seeing new food lines. Plus, food is tasty and totally necessary to survive. You shouldn’t hate what’s necessary–except maybe taxes.
How exactly do you grocery shop without spending ridiculous amounts of money?
- Have a list. This is the number one thing you need to do before you step foot in a grocery store. You might think it’s annoying and time consuming, but I can guarantee you that it’ll help you spend less. A grocery store is set up in a such a way that allows for browsing in order to get people to spend more money. Since produce is the most profitable section, it’s the first section you’re going to come across. More popular items are lined against the wall since people are more likely to browse there. In the dairy section, more popular items are further down the aisle to force you to browse through the less popular items. So without a grocery list, you’re likely to do a lot of browsing and thus spend more money than you need to. A list forces you to get right to the point. Get what you need and get out.
- Write a proper grocery list. Divide your grocery list into the major food groups, from proteins to whole grains to veggies, fruits, and dairy. This makes writing a grocery list much, much easier. I love to use this template when writing a grocery list.
- Canned and frozen is okay. If you’re on a shoe-string budget, it’s absolutely okay to opt for canned veggies and fruit. Nothing is as good as fresh, but you’re still receiving the vitamins and minerals you need in your diet. Frozen foods are the same way. Unfortunately, freezing does degrade Vitamin C from the blanching process beforehand, but you can get your dose of Vitamin C from fresh oranges, which are not that pricey. Or even orange juice–but no added sugars!
- Opt for organic boxed foods. I understand that organic isn’t in everyone’s budgets, particularly when it comes to boxed foods. However, the idea is that you should be eating as many whole foods as possible while trying to avoid processed foods. Processed foods are often found in boxes. But it’s unavoidable purchasing boxed foods. So I opt for organic when buying such staples as macaroni and cheese or even fruit snacks. I like knowing that these processed foods are made from pure ingredients. But if you can’t afford organic, the best thing to do is to read the nutrition labels on boxed products and avoid the ones that use fake ingredients and hardly have any nutritional value. Simply look at the ingredients along with the healthful benefits you’ll be receiving from consuming the product.
- Nutrition labels! As previously mentioned, it’s super important to look at nutrition labels. If you feel tempted to buy fat free, compare the sugar amount to the original product. Fat free tends to have more added sugars. Plus, healthful fats are necessary in the diet. And, of course, look at the ingredients. For example, some lemonades don’t even use lemons at all, just processed chemical additives that make it taste like lemonade.
- Purchase frozen last. This is probably common sense to many of you, but it’s just worth noting, particularly since some Walmarts have the frozen section first, and people tend to shop in order of aisles. You obviously want to buy frozen last so that it doesn’t start thawing while you’re going through the grocery store and loading your cart up with other items.
- Make sure you’re going to use what you buy. Try to have meals in mind when you’re buying food. If you don’t, what you buy may go to waste. My mom tends to hoard a lot of food in the cupboards, and much of it just goes to waste. Now when my fiance and I go grocery shopping, I always make sure that whatever we buy is going to get eaten. Remember that you’re tossing out money when you’re tossing out food.
*”Health Hut” by Stephen Depolo