I am a freak that loves grocery shopping. What is a chore for most people is something I have come to find therapeutic and a highlight of my week. Rows of vibrant fresh produce and proteins is my heaven. However, I know for most people grocery shopping is a dreaded task; between crowded aisles, the daunting task of wondering what exactly to add to your cart, and the expensive receipt that becomes your token prize at checkout, there are many reasons your trip to the local market is far from therapeutic. Here are a few of my favorite tips and tricks to surviving your weekly trip to the grocer.
Have a List, Have a Plan
Duh! Before heading to the store, even if it is a quick mental run down, think about your week. I know each week is totally different for me, so its important to sit down and think about what and where I will be eating. When will you be eating dinner at home? Do you need to pack hot or cold lunches? Do you have a busy weekend that may require some quick prep meals? What about breakfast? These simple questions can help gauge what kinds of foods you need to add to your cart so you aren’t over spending and wasting.
Make a Rectangle
The most infamous grocery store survival tip is to shop the perimeter. By shopping the outside of the store first, you are more likely to pick up minimally processed ingredients. The stuff on the inner aisles should be limited. For me, this means the occasional jarred sauce, grains, beans, and spices, and maybe some oatmeal too!
Check that Watch
Avoid the crazy rush and long times (and frustration) by hitting the grocery store up before 9am or after 7pm. I promise these off hours are worth it!
When I think of coupons, I think of a great marketing ploy that entices me to buy unhealthy, overly processed ingredients I would never dream of buying, simply to save fifty cents. Think about it, how often do you see a coupon for a cantaloupe? I bet never!
Don’t Go with a Grumble
I always carry a protein bar with me in my purse (and my car and my gym bag, and just about everywhere). I don’t like being hungry and know the danger of a grumbling tummy as I shop the aisles, it means more food in my cart, the occasional nibble on something crunchy as I shop, usually out of a bag, and usually associated with feelings of guilt for the unnecessary binge, not to mention a larger bill. I know to have a light snack to prevent any hunger and ultimately unnecessary spending and eating before any grocery store trip.
I like to create a spreadsheet of all the staples in my fridge and pantry, print it, and tape it to the fridge. When I run out of something, I simply circle that item and know to add it to my shopping list. That way I know when I am out of milk without even having to open the fridge. This one is a great example!