It’s the new year, a time to make positive changes and hit the ground running with fresh energy. This is the time of year when fitness and eating habits are prioritised most and when hopes of finally getting that perfect body, or simply spending less on fast food and cooking more at home are at their strongest. It is a great time to introduce new habits, such as walking everyday and meal planning, but it is also a time to look at improving old habits, such as how we do our grocery shopping.
For many people, grocery shopping can be a tedious, time-consuming chore that can cost hundreds of dollars. While we cannot do anything about the price of groceries, we can spend less money on things that do not help us achieve our health and fitness goals and make the whole shopping process more efficient.
Stick to your shopping list
If you want to be more efficient and spend less money on things you do not need, always shop with a list. Yes, it will take some time to put together initially, but once you have a list together, you can refer to it in future shops, particularly if you tend to eat similar meals week to week.
A helpful tip here is to tick off every item as you put it into your shopping trolley. Firstly, this will help to ensure you only get what is on your list and secondly, you get a little release of happy hormones every time you complete a task (like finding a particular food item or completing your shopping list). Overall, this can make the whole shopping experience if not enjoyable, a bit more tolerable.
Spend less time shopping
Going hand in hand with always shopping with a list is spending less time in the shops. Studies have shown that the longer you spend shopping, the more likely you are to buy things you don’t need. Make note of the general layout of the grocery store you normally shop at and where the specific items you need are located. Generally speaking, most of the healthier foods are located around the perimeter of the store, but a lot of healthy foods are also located in the centre isles. A recommendation is to shop the perimeter first and then move through the centre isles after.
Stores are wise to this and in an effort to get you to buy more, will often place attention grabbing stands of unhealthy foods in the perimeter isles and the end of the centre isles. That is why, if you can, try to..
Eat before you shop
If you are shopping when hungry, you are more likely to impulsively buy high-calorie food such as chips and chocolate, which can blow out your budget and your waistline. Before venturing to the shops, sit down to a good meal and you will be far less likely to make bad shopping decisions.
Finally, if you are still having trouble controlling the urge to overspend and overindulge, you can try shopping online. This is also a great option for people who are short on time as groceries can be delivered to your home, eliminating the need to spend time shopping in person. Just like writing a physical list, this takes time initially to set up, but then you can simply copy the same list week to week and make small changes if you need to. By shopping online, you can also have a more in depth look at the ingredients and nutrient make up of the foods you are buying and easily make comparisons and/or substitutions with other foods if you so wish.
Hopefully, these tips serve to make food shopping more tolerable and to reduce overspending on unnecessary items. In the long run, this should mean more money in your bank account and a greater likelihood that you achieve your health and fitness goals.
1. Kubala J, Jones J. The Definite Guide to Healthy Grocery Shopping [Internet]. [place unknown]: Healthline; 2021 [Reviewed 2021 Jul 1; cited 2024 Jan 11]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/healthy-grocery-shopping-guide
2. White M C. 1 Totally Common Shopping Habit That’s Wrecking Your Budget [Internet]. [place unknown]: Time; 2015 [updated 2015 Jun 22; cited 2024 Jan 11]. Available from: https://time.com/3929244/shopping-budget/