Does anyone actually enjoy grocery shopping all the time? Yeah, I didn’t think so. While it may not be the most thrilling task, grabbing groceries is something we’ve all gotta do. Before you start filling up your shopping cart, take a moment to check out this list of savvy supermarket tips. They’ll help you navigate through the aisles with ease, save you time, and hopefully help you outsmart tricky stocking tactics!
Make a Menu for the Week
I always like to say the key to flexibility, and being able to ‘wing it’ later on, is to first get organized. Before you head to the grocery store, carve out a few minutes to create a menu for the week. Outline what you and your family will have for breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day. If you need some pointers on creating a weekly menu, check out my tips here!
Create a Grocery Shopping List
Once you have a clear idea of what meals you’ll be whipping up during the week, create an ingredient list. I like to make my lists by categories: fruits, vegetables, dairy, pantry items, freezer essentials, etc. This way, navigating the aisles is a breeze. If you shop for the same things often, save your lists!
Ahhh, convenience at its finest! Many grocery stores today offer an online shopping option, where you easily pick your items on their website, load your digital shopping cart, and then pick everything up at the store once they’re bagged and ready to go. Then there are other services that will deliver your groceries right to your front door. Either way, they both save you a lot of time and could also save you some money. I keep a running list of essentials that I just reorder in bulk online — it’s great. Try it!
Never Go Hungry
If you are going into a physical store then this should really be #1! If you arrive at the grocery store with a grumbling tummy, you may be more tempted to splurge on treats and processed snacks. Do your will power a favor and make your trip to the food store after having a bite to eat.
Always Check Dates (and Understand the Lingo)
The worst part about buying fresh produce is getting home and realizing it expires tomorrow! Before you stock your shopping cart with chicken, beef, turkey, yogurt, milk, etc., always check the expiration date. Also, get familiar with expiration date lingo.
Best By: This is simply a recommendation and has nothing to do with safety. It’s there to tell customers when a product should be eaten for ideal quality — the overall taste and texture. But, again, it’s still safe to eat.
Sell By: This date is aimed at retailers. It shows what date an item should be sold by or when they should remove it from the shelf. It’s not a safety indicator and if you eat produce a few days after the labeled “Sell By” date then you’re totally fine!
Use By: This marks the last recommended day to consume a particular food to ensure peak quality. According to the USDA, “It is not a safety date except for when used on infant formula”.
Freeze By: The USDA says this is another label that has nothing to do with safety. Rather, it indicated when a product should be frozen to maintain peak quality.
Grab Food From the Back of the Shelf
When stockers load groceries onto the shelves, they usually place the newest items in the back. That way, whatever has the shortest Use-By date (and will spoil the quickest) gets sold! If you’re looking for the freshest foods that will last a while in your fridge, your best bet is to beat their system and reach your arm all the way back.
Go for Quality
If you’re really trying to bump up your healthy eating game, it’s not only important to think about what you eat, but also where your food comes from. While organic produce, grass-fed meats, and wild-caught fish may cost more, they do have their benefits. Check out my guest post by Dr. Oz Garcia for a closer look!
Speaking of quality — if you’re on the hunt for the best quality meats, you may need to reexamine where you shop. Did you know places like Albertsons, BJ’s, Target, Walmart, and Stop & Shop reportedly sell ground beef with pink slime (AKA a cheap filler once used only in pet food and cooking oil that is now used in many beef products)?
Chill Out: Don’t Be Afraid of Frozen Veggies
Frozen foods often get a bad rap, but hear me out. Frozen fruits and veggies are usually picked at their peak ripeness, when they’re generally packed with the most nutrients. Depending on what you’re craving and what season it is, the frozen produce may be fresher than the fresh stuff! Plus, if you see frozen fruit and vegetable bags on sale, load up … because they won’t spoil after a week or two.
Don’t Get Tripped Up by Misleading Labels
If you’re going to reach for some store-bought sauces and snacks, don’t get fooled by misleading labels. Often times, snack packs labeled as “low-fat” are loaded with extra sugars. So, make sure to give the nutritional label a quick scan.