Grocery shopping is my least favourite chore. It sucks up so much time, especially with little kids in tow. I dislike it so much that I’ve come up with 5 strategies that I use regularly to make the grocery store a little easier. I can’t bring it home and put it away for you, but I can help you get in and out of the store without tearing your hair out or running someone over with a shopping cart.
Plan your meals
Hands-down, this is 100% my best strategy for grocery shopping. I have spent many a trip to the grocery store wandering each aisle, tossing random things in my cart. This leads to huge grocery bills and wasted food, two things I hate. Now, you don’t have to plan every last morsel of every meal. A lot of people find that too restrictive. But have a basic idea that you want to make grilled chicken with rice and veggies, burgers with oven fries, and shrimp stir-fry for dinner this week so you can pick up what you need and not end up with four bags of tortilla chips and nothing else.
Make your list to match your store
Most grocery stores around me have a similar layout. I enter in the produce department and work my way around the perimeter of the store through meats, dairy, bakery, and frozen foods. From there I work through the aisles back towards the cash registers. I set up my list to mimic this format so I don’t forget things or have to backtrack and waste time. So get to know the layout of your favourite store and make your list to follow that. It has become automatic for me now and saves me so much time.
80% of your cart should be from the perimeter of the store
This grocery shopping strategy is less about waste and all about health. I spend the majority of my time food shopping moving around the perimeter of the store. I’m pretty picky about my produce and I find it’s worth the time to find the best pepper, cucumber, or squash that I can. Same goes for meat and dairy. Spending the time picking the best possible food for my family makes it worthwhile for me to cook. A little research into the best beef or the best yogurt for your family will make you feel good about what you’re cooking.
Read the labels
Another reason I buy the majority of my food from the perimeter of the grocery store is the ingredient labels! I’ve gotten into the habit of reading the ingredient and nutrient labels for every packaged food I buy and it is time-consuming! To combat this I try to buy things with no ingredient list like eggs, broccoli, you get the idea. When I do make my way into the interior of the store here’s what I look for on labels:
- Serving size and calories – basically, would eating this be worth the teeny portion or huge calorie bomb?
- Sugar and sodium – again, is it worth it? Is this yogurt worth 20g of sugar? (no!) or these chips worth 75% of my sodium RDA? (nope.)
- Ingredients – I immediately put back anything with the words ‘modified’ or ‘hydrogenated’, as well as any artificial sweeteners (yes even Stevia, I hate the taste) and anything ‘kernel oil’. These ingredients show the product is highly processed and basically unrecognizable as food.
Look up and down
Did you know your grocery store is watching you? Food marketing is one of the largest industries in the world and they are REALLY good at their jobs over there. They know that we wander through the store and will grab the first thing we see that matches our list. So what do they do? Put the name-brand higher-priced foods right in front of our faces! That’s why you can find the KD right at eye-level, but the store brand stuff is a few shelves down. Take a glance up and down as you’re hunting down your cereal next time and see what deals you can find.
What are your tried-and-true tips for conquering the grocery store or another hated chore? Let’s discuss it in the comments!