How to Conquer the Grocery Store

grocery store

You gotta have a plan.

Have you ever asked a health guru how they grocery shop? Or better yet, asked for tips about making better choices? I’m sure that if you have, you’ve been told at least one of two things: shop on the outskirts of the aisles and don’t shop when you’re hungry.
Alright, cool. So now you walk into the nearest Publix or Trader Joes ready to conquer the store with a big dose of self control. You officially feel banned from those forbidden aisles of processed junk and wonderfully sweet treats, and are now surrounded by vegetables, meat, dairy, and eggs. Finally! Your cart is now filled with foods that make up the colors of the rainbow, and you’re ready to cook up something healthy. But… what the hell are you going to cook?
Turns out, these helpful little tips may have left you unprepared yet again. You have all the major foods to make up a well balanced diet, but now a fridge full of foods that don’t go together with a future of watching a jumbo-pack of spinach and tubs of hummus go to waste because you had no idea what to do with them. You had good intentions, and you made a step in the right direction, but you still need to get some things sorted out.
We’ve forgotten a couple of minor details. Sure, shopping primarily on the outside of the store is ideal because it’ll fill your cart (and diet) with more whole foods and less processed junk, but you can’t expect yourself to eat all that food or enjoy all of those vegetables if you merely limit yourself to the outside with no plan. You’ll be eating bland meals and probably throwing away half of what you bought. You must shop smart, and you must realize that those other aisles, while primarily dangerous, can still provide you with some staple items that aren’t going to kill your diet.

Left Out Tip #1: Bring Recipes

Buying all things healthy are a good thing, but buying things you don’t need or know what to do with is not a good thing for your wallet nor the scent of your fridge. To save yourself the trouble of loading your drawers with endless greens that you don’t know how to cook or even like, do some research, plan your weekly meals, and bring your recipes with you to the store. That way, you will only buy things that you’ll need (most importantly avoiding buying things you DON’T need which won’t turn your pantry into a hoarder’s worst nightmare).

Left Out Tip #2: Only Buy Perishables That You’ll Eat IMMEDIATELY

This is why planning comes in handy. Things that are kept in the refrigerated section (which is about 90% of the outer aisles) are constantly maintained for a reason, they have an expiration date. Vegetables, meats, and even some dairy products do not stay good for long, and generally have a short shelf life. While that’s normally a good indicator for a “better” choice, you risk having things go straight into the trash can before you even get to eat them. You can’t stock up on celery like you stock up on crackers, and you can’t buy the food you’re going to cook for date night the week before. If you like to have meats and vegetables at access at all times, freeze them.

Left Out Tip #3: You Can Enter Aisles with Caution

Turns out, you don’t HAVE to avoid every aisle. Things in “those” aisles can help you cook those things you bought on the outskirts of the store. Remember spices? Yeah, those come in handy when cooking your vegetables. And oils? Olive oil and coconut oil, both being extremely nutritious, can help you cook up some tender protein, and are both found in the middle of the store.
Lot’s of healthy “whole” foods can be found amidst the shelves, you just have to be careful. Peanut butter, canned tuna, oils, tea, coffee, dried fruit, and mixed nuts all have longer shelf lives and can still contribute to a healthy diet. Don’t let yourself become terrified of walking down these long halls, because you may leave yourself cooking some tasteless broccoli, dry chicken, and without snacks.
Don’t ever find yourself in a grocery store, in the cereal aisle, while you’re hungry. But, besides preparing to avoid THAT scenario, make sure you enter the building with a plan. Have a list, know what you can buy, and know that you aren’t forbidden from the aisles. Just be smart about what you put in your cart.



Rachel Jimenez

An Exercise Science major at USF with a love for dance, food, and sarcastic banter. Oh, and she was gluten free before it was cool. instagram: @sassycalves twitter: @itsraayy

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