The trick to losing weight and saving money is to learn how to fill your shopping cart correctly. Your kitchen plays an equally important part in your weight loss journey as your gym, so it’s important to make sure you shop smart and have access to the right foods to help reach your health and fitness goals. The food you eat has the biggest impact on your health, your body weight, and your wallet. Skimble Trainer Darlene Adamusik has 6 easy shopping tips to help you find the correct foods while saving money, calories, and improving your time management—all without breaking a sweat!
You’ll want to get familiar with your local grocery stores. Compare prices and figure out what your best options are. You may end up bouncing back and forth between different stores for certain items, so don’t be lazy if you want to save money. If you have Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, or Aldi I would recommend trying those first since they tend to be the cheapest. Whole Foods is usually more expensive, but if you can’t find certain items at other stores, it may be your only option at times. Let’s start with some basic tips to help fill your cart in the best way!Look out for these two labels while you browse around the grocery store; Organic and Non-GMO. Both suppliers and products carrying these labels have been put through a USDA approved screening process, so you can rest assured of what you’ll be putting in your body when consuming them.If something has the USDA Organic label on it, it means it’s produced without the use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, including no antibiotics nor growth hormones. If a food item has the Non-GMO label, it contains no genetically modified organisms such as those created to chemically resist or produce pesticides. You can learn more about GMOs by heading over to the Non-GMO project website and downloading their handy iOS or Android app. You can often find affordable Organic and/or Non-GMO labeled grocery options through Trader Joe’s, Sprouts and Whole Foods generic store brands.
With that, let’s learn about general grocery shopping tips to help you eat healthy while saving money:
1. Start Outside and Work Your Way In
Start on the outer edges of the grocery store first and save the middle aisles until last. This means you’ll be starting in the produce and the bulk sections. Make sure to go all around these sections, your clean eating starts here! Look for what’s in season, on sale, and think “rainbow” to add some color. This is where you’ll find the natural, non-processed foods. Stock up well on these items first. The foods that are contained in the center aisles are mostly processed, so as a general rule, the less of your food that comes from the center aisles, the better. A lot of bulk items are cheap too, so don’t forget to check them out to compare prices!
If you want to save money on your produce, find a local farmer’s market near you. Farmer’s markets are often cheaper on produce, so if can, take advantage and support the locals! The goal should be to get all your fruits and vegetables for $20 or less per week.
2. Scan the Top and Bottom Shelves
When it’s time to go to the center aisles, try to avoid selecting foods from the eye level shelf and focus more on the top or bottom shelves. Many of the larger food companies pay extra money to place their products on eye level shelves, which usually means that more unhealthy and processed foods will be there, and conversely more of the healthy options will be on the top and bottom shelves.
3. Read the Ingredients
Always take a look at the ingredients first, even before you look at the calories! Another general rule here is the shorter the list of ingredients, the better because a shorter list of ingredients will tend to have less chemicals overall and therefore be healthier. Look for ingredients that are whole foods—ingredients that you already know without having to Google them. When comparing two items and deciding which one is better for you, pick the one that appears to be the least processed.
4. When it comes to Ingredients, Order is Important
When looking at the list of ingredients on a particular product, look at the order of the list. The first three ingredients listed are typically what they use the most of. If an item includes sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or natural sweetener amongst the first few ingredients, put it back on the shelf!
5. Avoid Key Words
It always helps to know the marketing strategies of certain key words. These key words are usually expensive because they know how to target an audience. Some key words are “gluten-free”, “ sugar-free”, “natural sweetener”, “fat-free”, “natural“, “mom approved”, and so on… Learn the lingo because it can get tricky! For example, if a product says “less fat”, that may only mean 1-2g less fat, but it can also mean that the product is more processed, contains more sodium or sugar, and costs more money. Another key word to be aware of is “multigrain”, which can mean that a lot of the nutritional value was stripped from the product. Whereas “whole grain” means that the entire grain kernel was used, which is better for you.
6. Avoid Packaged Products
Pre-packaged foods are generally not good for you and usually cost more money. Essentially, when packaged and processed, a lot of the nutritional value is stripped away from the foods. Avoid products that are packaged and just eat the real versions of that food. For example, instead of eating vegetable chips or drinking fruit juices you’re much better off eating real vegetables or whole fruits. Packaged foods are simply empty calories, lots of sugar, tons of sodium, and cost more money.