A Savvy Shopper takes on the Grocery Store

Written By: Sofia Layarda, MPH

Title: Master of Public Health

Alumni: University of California, Berkeley

Last Updated on:

It is Sunday night, and a quick peek in your refrigerator and cupboards gives you that sinking feeling that you are overdue for a trip to the grocery store. Sound familiar? Well, you are not alone. For many, grocery shopping seems to be a hassle or annoyance – one of those things you would be happy to do without, yet most likely have to deal with on a weekly basis.
At the risk of sounding a little strange, I am one of those people who actually enjoys going to the grocery store. Rather than trying to convince you why I think it is a fun place to be, I am sharing with you some tips to make your next grocery shopping trip more manageable and enjoyable:

Prepare a list ahead of time

You may think you are too rushed to get a grocery shopping list together, but spending a few minutes thinking about absolute necessities will save you time and money once you are in the store. Large-chain grocery stores (where the majority of us do our grocery shopping these days) have aisles and aisles full of multiple varieties of things (15 different kinds of ketchup, anyone?). It is easy to get distracted and end up with more items than were part of the plan or budget. Invest an extra five to 10 minutes to jot down things you actually need.

Shop on a full stomach

Never go grocery shopping when you are hungry. You may not make the best judgment on what to get (or how much to get) when your blood sugar is running low. Or, you may just end up grabbing any fast-foods in sight because your body is yearning to be fed!

Shop with the season

Summer is approaching. For those of us in North America, that usually means a greater variety of fruits and vegetables in your produce aisle. It provides you with the opportunity to try new items. Of course, when you are introducing a new vegetable or fruit to your family, go easy and buy only one new thing at a time. You do not want a fridge full of uneaten produce either!

Balance between buying pre-made and making things from scratch

We are not trying to convince you to be a full-time cook or Ms. Suzie Homemaker. The key lies in knowing when to take a shortcut and buy pre-made, and when to make something from scratch. For example, buying frozen (or canned) ready-to-eat pasta does not make a lot of sense. Why? Well, most dry pastas cook within minutes anyways so buying the pre-made stuff will not save you that much time. In addition, frozen or canned pasta dishes tend to be highly processed (higher in sodium and total fat content) than what you would prepare at home. Plus, freshly made pasta tastes much better! On the other hand, buying frozen pre-made pizza dough makes sense as it cuts down your prep time while allowing you to choose what toppings to use.

Stick to the store periphery

Many stores stock their basic staples – such as fresh fruits and vegetables, breads and other grains, raw meats or seafood, and dairy products – on the periphery of the store. Many pre-made meals (frozen, canned or dried) tend to be found in the middle aisles.

Happy aisle-hopping, and may your grocery shopping be merry and bright!


grocery aisle


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