It doesn’t matter whether you’re after a weight loss goal, want to build muscle, increase your resistance, or just stay healthy in general, there’s something that we all have in common in our journeys - going grocery shopping.
The grocery shopping experience is universal: we go in, pick the foods that we want or that we need, and then we leave until it’s time to restock again. But just because we do this every week or every couple of weeks doesn’t mean that it needs to be monotonous, or that it can’t be improved in any way. Grocery shopping is already a very personal experience, but it can be made less tedious and more enjoyable by taking a little bit of time to plan for it.
There are many ways to shop smarter and easier so you can eat healthier and save money in the process. We’ll show you how to grocery shop healthy so that it works for you and your goals, and to avoid spending valuable time roaming around the aisles only to go back home with a bunch of unnecessary stuff.
Make a shopping list
It doesn’t matter which supermarket or grocery store you go to, you’re always going to be surrounded by a ton of options. Healthy foods, unhealthy foods, items that you like, items that you don’t… Even if you plan to make it quick, it’s more than likely that you’ll end up taking longer than expected because you’re roaming the aisles deciding what to buy. But there’s a quick solution to that - bringing a shopping list!
Before you leave your house, check your fridge and pantry and write down anything that you need or might be needing soon. Write down all the healthy pantry staples, such as your favorite fresh fruits and leafy greens, oats, eggs, extra-virgin olive oil, nuts and seeds, spices, and so on, so you can make sure that you have it in stock next time you’re cooking.
Additionally, if you have the time, find some recipes that you would like to try and write down the ingredients that you need for them. Variety is key when it comes to healthy eating, so make sure to try some new stuff from time to time!
Shopping lists can help you be precise, quick, and make healthier food choices. Even if you have all the time in the world and can spend hours inside a store, having a healthy grocery shopping list is going to help you stick to what you actually need vs. what you think you need when you’re already there. And more importantly, it’s going to help you avoid getting distracted so you don’t end up buying a bunch of empty-calorie foods and snacks!
Eat something before you go
This one makes a bigger impact than most people realize because shopping while hungry can be a big mistake!
If you go to a grocery store on an empty stomach, chances are you’re going to be tempted by anything and everything because you want something to calm your hunger. This is even worse if it’s paired with a craving because you’ll make judgments based on what you’re feeling in the moment instead of what you actually need. Even if you already have a shopping list, hunger could take over and make the calls while you’re at the store, and you definitely don’t want that!
A growling stomach can have a big attitude, so try to have something to eat before you go to the grocery store. It could be anything, but preferably something that will leave you satiated for a while, in case you need to be at the store for longer than expected so hunger doesn’t kick in unexpectedly.
Sometimes you need to visit the supermarket after a long day out of the house, so having healthy snacks (such as protein bars) in your bag or car can be helpful to avoid going in hungry or having to stop at a fast-food place for a quick but not-so-healthy bite of junk food.
Choose whole foods
The key to healthy eating is to place your focus on whole foods instead of heavily processed foods that might not do any good to your system, especially if your goal is weight loss. But even if you don’t have a specific fitness goal and you only want to stay healthy, certain foods may take you in the opposite direction.
When you get to your favorite supermarket, a good strategy is to start shopping from the outer aisles first. These are the aisles that usually have fresh produce and lean meat cuts that you can add to your shopping cart to make sure you start with the right foot, instead of diving head-first into the more varied aisles while you still have your cart empty.
You’ll want to go for nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats that you enjoy, so you can have a variety of different foods while still keeping it healthy. Avoid buying processed foods or at least try to keep them very limited, because they’re usually filled with preservatives, added sugars, and a bunch of extra stuff that your body doesn’t need and can actually set you back in your fitness goals.
You can still buy your favorite snacks and not-so-healthy foods, but always do so in moderation while prioritizing whole foods!
Read the nutrition labels
The smartest way to go grocery shopping is to pay attention to what you’re adding to your cart, not only by checking how it looks and what it says on the description but by taking a few seconds to check the nutrition label!
Like we previously said, choosing whole foods over processed foods is the best way to go, but even if you’re buying processed foods that look healthy, some options are significantly better than others, and the only way to find out is by reading the nutrition label. Processed foods usually have a long list of ingredients because they feature a lot of unnecessary additives, so it’s good to pay attention to avoid getting excessive quantities of stuff that your body doesn’t need.
Steer away from high amounts of added sugars and sodium content, as well as saturated fats that will not only add nothing to your diet but actually put you at risk of health problems when consumed in excess. By checking the nutrition label, you can also make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck, so you end up winning on all fronts!
Make healthy swaps for your snacks
Snacking can be as good for you as it can be bad, but sometimes it’s more close to being bad because of a lack of moderation and choosing your snacks poorly.
Before you leave the house, try to think of what you usually crave. Is it sweet or is it salty? Or maybe spicy? Keep that in mind, and instead of thinking of which bag of hot chips or piece of cake to buy, think of healthy swaps that will still beneficially tackle your cravings for you.
For sweet cravings, nothing’s better than dark chocolate. It’s nutritious, inexpensive, and more importantly - it’s delicious! And don’t forget about fruit, nature’s candy that can make your snack time 100 times richer and tastier. For salty cravings, some trail mix made out of your favorite nuts and seeds is the best way to go because it’s very low in calories while still being nutritious, tasty, and with that crunchiness that makes regular snacks so special and appealing.
Now, does that mean that you need to say goodbye to your favorite snacks? Of course not! But doing this will help you keep your snacking time healthy most of the time, allowing you to indulge in your favorite not-so-healthy snacks from time to time without feeling guilty. So next time you’re grocery shopping, keep this in mind and try to look for some healthy swaps first before heading to the snack aisle for a treat.
Buy canned and frozen produce
Shop smarter, not harder! Buying frozen and canned foods, particularly fruits and vegetables, can be a game-changer when it comes to grocery shopping and the longevity of your products.
Most of the time, fruits and vegetables come and go very quickly because they have a very short shelf life, so you need to keep restocking frequently if you never want to run out of these nutritious foods. But there are downsides to this. Sometimes you might run out and your only option is to go a few days without eating them because running to the store can be impossible during the weekdays for some people. Or you might not have time to cook and eat everything, so some of it ends up going bad in your fridge.
Since having more time isn’t something that most people can magically do, you need to find a way around this problem - and buying frozen, canned, and even dried fruits and veggies is the solution! You can portion your frozen foods so you only have to move them from the freezer to the fridge one portion at a time, avoiding food waste and keeping you stocked for a while. And canned foods are perfect for any moment! You can use the whole can at once, or use some of it and refrigerate the rest for later use.
Doing this will help you stay stocked with fresh produce for longer periods of time, while also helping you save a lot of money and even avoid losing it when food goes bad. So add this to your grocery list when you’re preparing for a supermarket trip!
Buy according to your macros
If you want to get your grocery shopping to the next level and make your whole experience much better, calculate your macros and prepare your shopping list according to what you really need!
Macronutrients are essential for everyone. It doesn’t matter which kind of lifestyle you’re living, you always need to eat healthy by including a decent amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fats to keep your system thriving. But the actual amounts vary from person to person, and you might need to prioritize one of those macros depending on your goals or personal needs. If you’re an active person and your goal is to build muscle, then you need a higher dose of protein and carbs than the average person who just wants to keep a healthy diet.
You can calculate your macros using the Fit With Iulia Macro Calculator, which will give you the exact amount of protein, carbs, and fats that you need to eat in a day, as well as the total calories that you should aim to eat. You can then build your shopping list based on your macros and not just on what’s missing in your kitchen. Pair this with some meal planning and you’ll definitely stay closer to your goals without struggling!
In addition to all of these tips, you can also try buying in bulk, which is a great way to get good deals on healthy foods such as grains, nuts, and even frozen meats if you have enough freezer storage.
Grocery shopping can be very easy and even enjoyable, you just need to make it work for you! By implementing these tips, whether it’s just one or all of them, you’ll be able to see an improvement in your supermarket visits and start leading a healthier life without needing to make huge lifestyle changes.
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