- Try to avoid going grocery shopping when you’re hungry.
- Keeping a running shopping list on your phone can be helpful.
- Clean out and take stock of your pantry before you go shopping.
Grocery shopping may be one of the most important outings you’ll make all week, but with so many scattered grocery lists and overwhelming aisles, it can be tough to stay on track and have an efficient grocery shopping trip.
Here are some of the best ways to prepare for your grocery trip in order to save time and money.
Keep a running list of what you need.
Registered dietitian and nutritionist Jenny Friedman recommends using shareable list and document apps that let you keep running lists that you can share with a partner or a roommate.
“Because my phone is always on me, I can add to my grocery list as soon as I think of something [I need] or the second I use up that last bit of whatever as I’m cooking,” Friedman told INSIDER. “I also love having a list on my phone because I always used to lose that little piece of paper I was writing it on. A list is great because it keeps you focused and helps you make sure you get exactly what you need.”
Structure your grocery list to match the layout of your store.
Although running around the supermarket may be a good form of exercise, if you want to be efficient, organise your list by department and food type. If you have a mental map of your usual grocery store, even better.
“Most stores open into the produce section, so that’s what I keep at the top of my list,” Friedman told INSIDER. Plus, creating a list organised by route should mean less backtracking and fewer impulse purchases.
Look at your calendar.
“Some questions that are helpful to consider are: What’s my schedule this week? What’s the weather? Do I need to use anything up before it goes bad? What’s the stock on my staples?,” said Friedman. If you won’t be home for dinner or have time to make lunch for five days in a row, it could shape your purchases.
Looking at the upcoming weather can also help structure your plans – is it going to be too hot to feel like spending time over your stove or will soup on a rainy night hit the spot? “Without an eating plan and without a grocery list, you’re bound to end up making last-minute decisions that may not align with your health goals,” Friedman added.
Avoid buying perishable food too far in advance unless it can be frozen.
In addition to checking your calendar, try to be mindful of which foods you can buy frozen and which foods you can freeze if you aren’t sure if you can consume them in a timely manner.
Buying perishable foods too soon before you plan to consume them could result in wasted money, so be open to purchasing frozen varieties or to buying foods that freeze well.
Take inventory of what you already have.
It’s useful to know what’s in your cabinets, pantry, and refrigerator before adding anything to your list.
“The only way you can shop efficiently is by knowing what you already have,” Dr. Lisa N. Folden, licensed physical therapist and naturopathic lifestyle coach told INSIDER. “There’s nothing worse than spending precious money and using valuable space in your pantry on repeat grocery items.”
Make room in your pantry, fridge, and freezer before you go.
Take some time before your grocery shopping trip to toss expired products, transfer some leftovers into smaller containers, and quickly re-organise your food storage systems.
It can make the process of unloading your groceries a lot smoother, plus you’ll be able to get a better sense of which items you already have.
Look for coupons.
You don’t have to clip ads from papers or circulars to get great deals – you can find them right on your phone. Many stores offer apps that let you digitally collect coupons for specific items or categories of items on your shopping list.
Avoid doing your grocery shopping when you’re hungry.
“We’ve all been in the grocery store when a craving hits, usually it has to do with a drop in our blood sugar, which is usually a result in our not eating, or eating foods that cause fluctuations in our blood sugar levels,” said trainer Menachem Brodie.
He recommends a high protein snack or meal before heading out for the store. “Proteins are not only the building blocks for our muscles, but they also help stabilise our blood sugar,” he added. A snack like Greek yogurt with berries can help you feel satiated and you may be better able to resist impulsive food purchases.
Start at the perimeter of the grocery store and work your way inward.
Browsing the healthier aisles first can allow you to make better decisions about what you need and don’t need.
“All of the healthy stuff is arranged on the perimeter of the store,” Brodie told INSIDER. “By the time you get to the processed snacks and foods, your cart will be mostly full and you’ll be less likely to pick up those cheats.”
Stock up on your go-to food staples, especially when they’re on sale.
If there’s an item you find yourself constantly repurchasing, keep an eye on when it goes on sale. When you know you’ll consume everything you purchase, you can stock up without worrying about food waste.
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