I used to dread grocery shopping; it truly was a chore for me, until, I changed my mindset. I started to look at it as more of a fun thing to do, to make sure that my body was well nourished. I am no Chef and my cooking is by far not elaborate. I am, what I like to call, a few-ingredients-gal. Except of course, my salads and smoothies; I love to get a colours-of-the-rainbow finished product and think of all the awesome nutrients my cells will be absorbing and how happy they will be!
That being said, here are 10 mistakes that are easy to make when we do our groceries and how avoiding them can make the process a much better and healthier experience!
- Going While You’re Tired & Hungry: Most people have already learnt this lesson the hard way. If you do your groceries while you’re tired, you might definitely feel like rushing through the process. It goes without saying that grocery shopping while hungry may lead us to make less than good decisions. Make sure that you’re well-rested, that you don’t go for your shopping at the end of a long working day. This tip is especially helpful for all those who recognize their tendency to drift towards comfort food selections. I personally love to go on Sunday; after my workout and having my nutrient packed smoothie, I know that I’m ready and up for the task ahead, plus if I go early enough, I know that the stores won’t be crazy busy! Take the time to plan out your trip and choose a day that works ideally with your schedule!
- Not Having a Meal Plan: This mistake is a variable amongst people; everyone is different and their approach to planning their list varies with them. There are apps that exists with the sole purpose to help with your grocery and meal-prep planning. Other people might be more inclined to search up different recipes that they think might be delicious and then add that to their list of prep. The range is very diverse; it goes from situations of very strict planning, to different family dynamics, to catering to those with specific dietary needs (e.g. ketogenic diet, gluten free diet—these require some good pre-planning because it will be harder to follow your meal plan if you don’t have the right foods in the house).
- Not Having a List (yes, there is an app for that): I cannot tell you, how many times I have come back from grocery shopping only to realize that I’ve forgotten to get some important items….frustrating…The solution being that there are some really great apps that exist to help you remember everything on your list! I personally prefer the more modern take on the ‘grocery list’ principle. By that I mean that, some of the apps that exist include what might have traditionally been included as staples in the kitchen, but that you might not actually need (e.g. milk, bread, cereals). The apps that allow you to create your own list, catered to your specific needs, work much better in my opinion because they aren’t encouraging you to buy items that you don’t often need!
- Always Shopping at the Same Store: It’s understandable that when we are short on time we might not have the freedom to shop around. However, this goes back to #1 when we talked about finding the right moment in the week to do your grocery shop. If we’re always going back to the same places, we aren’t opening our doors to the different options (not only for prices), of taste and quality of food that are found in different stores. Allow yourself the chance to do yourself a decent favour. Unfortunately, if we are only feeding ourselves a limited amount of nutrients, in the form of certain foods, we may develop intolerances which is not to our benefit at all and will make grocery shopping a more limited matter.
- You Don’t Try New Things: When you give yourself enough time to enjoy grocery shopping you might find that, although not every grocery location is convenient; there are so many other options awaiting you and you might find new things that you didn’t know you had the option of purchasing in your area! For myself, although Whole Foods is out of my way, I really enjoy taking the time and walking through the isle and seeing all the fresh produce and variety of spice, herbs, and foods held at that location. I will go as far as to admit that I have spent 2 whole hours at Whole Foods before! (Yes, honestly, this has happened). If someone had told me that years ago I would have laughed and said: “no way”. The key is, changing our mindsets (reference back to point #1). When you approach grocery shopping for the full benefit you will be gifting your body; good nutrients are vital and let’s remember, we are responsible for your own well-being.
- You Don’t Take Time to Read Labels: If you’re starting to get the feeling that I’m repeating myself, it’s because I am; I want you to understand that grocery shopping is a timely matter, you should take the time to do it properly! Reading the labels is also very important! If you don’t take the time to read the labels, you risk a higher chance of consuming foods that are unnecessarily high in sugars and many other ingredients that are going unnoticed. If it’s a packaged food, take a moment at least to make note of the top 3 ingredients so you have a better ideal of the quality of the nutrition and what you’re buying.
- Getting Fooled by Healthy Label Marketing: Marketers will try every trick they have up their sleeves to try and convince us that a product is healthy. Even the company’s we may recognize as being the healthy option, push the envelope with some of their products. I always say; although a package might indicate that a batch of cookies are organic…they are still cookies; packed with sugar and without any real nutrients. Really be careful with the healthy label statements.
- Trying to Buy a Full Week of Food: Of course, I understand that household situations vary. A family of 2 doesn’t require the same amount of food as a family of 6. Keep in mind the quality of the food you’re purchasing. For good fresh produce, you’ll almost have to go at least twice a week. If you try and shop for everything, only once a week, a lot of the produce and products you buy will go stale by the end of the week. It’s great if you know what works for your family; if you love apples and are buying organic, chances are they will go stale quicker than non-organic. So, buy for what you need and plan a day to top-off for the products you might need mid-week.
- Not Buying in Bulk: There are a lot of products that you might be able to cut off your normal grocery buying load. Every household has their staples; for most of us, that would include things like toilet paper, laundry detergent, garbage bags, etc.). There are ample amount of stores that allow you to buy these items in bulk (along with many other items). It’s more than beneficial for you to buy your staple items as it is not like it’s going to go to waste and it will save you from having to pick some up every week during your shopping trip.
- Not Using Local Markets: Sure, our locals farmers markets might not be certified organic per say but by being locally can really help buying fresh. It can also help the environment saving the steps of packaging and transportation. Take the time to figure out where your local markets are and what their hours are. Help support your local businesses in your community.
There you have it, 10 things you can do to improve your grocery shopping experience! If you have kids, encourage them to see grocery shopping for its benefits and don’t make them feel like it’s a chore; get them involved! Make them aware of all the colours found in your cart and encourage them to participate in selecting the best. This way of encouragement can be used for everyone! Feel proud of the variety you’re offering to yourself! You’re doing this for your health and to make sure that your days are filled with good nutrition and plenty of energy.