Ultimate Nutrition Without The Cost: Top Tips For Conscious Grocery Shopping

$50 extra dollars sit happily in my bank account today. I just got home from Trader Joe’s, my favorite store for cheap, healthy groceries. Current status: 3 bags of food for $100 bucks. Time machine us back to last week and you would have found me hauling five stuffed bags (up five flights of stairs…always fun) having drained $150 out of my anorexic piggy bank. What did I do differently today compared to the thousands of other days I Zipcar’d it to stock my fridge? With awareness. I wanted to challenge myself to test the “less is more” philosophy. It worked!

How many times have you waddled home with a ton of brown bags only to find that a week later a quarter of the stuff has spoiled? Long before you could work your chef magic! I’ll admit this happens almost every time for me. Especially since my nutrition design involves a vast majority of parishables (whole foods like fruits, veggies, and fresh meats). What a damn shame. There are starving babies in Africa people!

World hunger aside, begrudgingly tossing out food costs you money and in most cases your girlish figure. Why? Because if we are buying more than we need, chances are it’s not extra carrots! It’s the chips, ice cream, and Oreos. Meaning you are spending all of your hard earned Benjamen’s on artery clogging garbage that will end up costing you not only your vitality now, but money on health care down the line. Let’s put a stop to this slippery slope today. Here’s how…

Cultivating the Less is More Attitude:

Outline Your Game Plan: Design an ideal nutrition plan for the week that coincides with your daily activity levels. Don’t know what’s healthy? Here’s my guide for us omnivore bipeds. This week my goals were…

a. Stick to the outskirts of the grocery store where all the produce and parishables are most commonly found.

Benefit: keeps my eyes and money away from processed and frozen foods.

b. Pick up the fruits and veggies first. (note: typically I would pick up the parishables last to limit the time they aren’t refrigerated)

Benefit: allows me to concentrate on making these whole foods the majority of my diet. When you fill the basket full of canned and boxed foods it’s easy to overbuy those items and then toss a few veggies on top before check out.

c. Organize the basket so I can see what I have. Separate food groups. All fruits go in a pile, which neighbors the veggie pile…Start with veggies and fruits, then add any animal products (meats, eggs, dairy), and last but not least toss in the grains and packaged items (bread, soups, soy milk, hummus, almond butter). I picked this specific order because I wanted the emphasis on veggies and fruits and less on carbs like my typical carb load of whole wheat bread, bagels, tortilla chips, and pittas.

Benefit: the ability to see what you have and how the items will compliment each other in meals. When you know what you have you can also start eliminating…which brings me too…

d. Only buy what I know I will use. Which means portion control. Don’t buy two massive prepackaged eggplants when you’ll only use one.

Benefit: Puts you on the right track to eating proper portions. Your stomach will thank you! Plastic packaging won’t end up in landfills, and less food waste overall.

e. Get in and out quickly.

Benefit: have more free time, save money on Zipcar, prevent idle wandering in the cookie isle.

f. Use a hand basket (or two).

Benefit: not overbuying because you feel the need to fill the basket. A very subconscious tendency! Just like time…if you have it, you’ll fill it.

Just Do It: I know I know…it’s a lot easier to say then do, but honestly…get over yourself! This is your life. Decide what you want and find ways to make it happen today, this minute, now.

So now that I’ve beaten you over the head with my tough love “just do it” spiel. How have you done it?! These are just some of the ideas I came up with in the middle of the fruit isle today. I’m sure you have plenty more to share and I’d love to hear em!