With nearly 1 in 3 adults overweight, and more than 2 in 5 adults being obese, there’s clearly a problem with our food choices.
Now, there are a variety of factors with these statistics. Some of them may be blamed on sedentary lifestyles, with adults decreasing in the amount of physical activity or simply having jobs that require them to sit for long periods of time.
And some of that blame can be placed on the restaurants and fast food joints that continue to serve highly-processed foods overloaded with bad fats and tons of sugar.
But the grocery store is not far from fault.
So how can we shop healthy at the grocery store and save money while we’re at it?
Patrol The Perimeter
Shop healthy by patrolling the perimeter of the store.
If you stop and take notice, you’ll see that besides the outer rim of every store, all aisles contain nothing but processed foods. Snacks, sodas, breads, frozen foods, and the like all remain throughout the aisles, beckoning to shoppers as they pass by.
But what’s on the perimeter, or the outer rim of the store? Vegetables, fruits, meats, dairy, eggs, and a ton of other ‘staples’ that contribute to a whole-food, healthy diet.
If you want to shop healthy at the grocery store, while saving money, keep to the perimeter and stock up on the staple items. If you need soup, or rice, or some other item buried within the processed aisles, then enter them individually and grab what you need before exiting.
Don’t comb through each aisle, as that will require more willpower on your part to not pick up items that you didn’t need. If you’re shopping with family members, especially little ones, they will easily find things they want in these aisles and pressure you to buy them.
Get in and get out! Watch your six in there.
Don’t Go Hungry
Like any other business, the grocery store is looking to make a sale. They know you need to resupply with basic items, but they’re hoping to entice you with other goodies and ‘on sale’ items before you leave.
That’s why you’ll find the baked goods section, desserts, and on-sale items near the entrance and exits of most stores. Either you’ll pass them as you make your way to exit, or some will place them as soon as you come through the entrance. Some will do it on both sides!
Never enter a grocery store without food in your stomach. If you go early in the morning, eat breakfast (even if you usually intermittently fast on a daily basis). If you’re going in the afternoon, eat lunch. Right before dinner? Protein shake.
Something that will placate your desires to eat for a time while you shop for the food you actually need. Your hunger cues will be stronger in times of stress or lack of sleep, so plan accordingly if you want to shop healthy and save money while doing so.
Address Temptations Properly
Regardless of your willpower, there will always be times when food reaches out to you, or your family member wants something as well.
If you’re trying to remain strict with what you buy for the time being, then develop mental strategies to counteract these urges.
For example, saying “I can’t have that” is a recipe for disaster.
When you can’t have something, the natural human urge is to desire it more. You’re psychologically weakening your willpower when you tell yourself you can’t, because your body will say you absolutely can and you deserve it!
Instead, be a person that says ‘I don’t.” For example:
I don’t buy boxes of Oreo’s, because I’m not the type of person that binges on that stuff. I’m an athlete, and athletes don’t do that.
By identifying yourself with a person that doesn’t do something, you’re effectively preventing yourself from succumbing to any temptation because you align with that identity.
Be incredibly cognizant of the things that you speak of yourself when you make “I am” statements. They are the strongest statements that you can make because they are deeply embedded beliefs about what you believe about yourself.
As a side note, this is true in many areas of life, which is something taught by Alex Hormozi. Never say, Im stupid or I’m bad at this. You’re damaging yourself in ways that you don’t realize.
Does your belief serve you? What you say is what you become. At the very least, if you feel compelled to have to describe this thing, then say I have a tendency or I struggle with behaviors that aren’t this way, rather than “I AM” statements.
Instead, tell yourself that you are a person trying to become better at this or I am learning to be better. Base your identity on improvement rather than bringing yourself down – the world does that enough, you don’t deserve to do it to yourself!
Go Alone And Take a List
While it might seem convenient to go with your significant other (especially if you’re a male that HATES grocery shopping), it is often counterproductive for your wallet.
If you want to save money (and shop healthy) go alone! We’ve already addressed why children shouldn’t come (at least not EVERY trip). Not only do they want the foods from colorfully packaged boxes, but the stores insidiously put such things at their eye level to entice them to ask you for them or place them in your cart for you.
A further problem is taking your significant other with you.
Whether it’s future thinking for a party, date night, or other potential event – Let’s get this for our Netflix show! – bringing another member on your shopping trip will always lead to higher spending.
That’s because the less people with you, the less opinions, desires, or urges for things not needed can come up. You already have your desires to battle, you don’t need one, two, or three more to go against.
That’s not to say you and your desires can be trusted either!
That’s why you must take a list. By taking a list, you accomplish two things:
- You save your memory space and can buy everything you needed to buy with a smaller percentage of a chance of forgetting something. That’s a plus!
- You keep yourself in check and help prevent shopping deviations by having a list. Once you’ve crossed out everything on your list, you make for your exit!
Plan Your Macros (Or At Least Your Protein)
If you require 170 grams of protein a day to meet your goals, do you know how much protein you need to buy at the store?
If 1 pound equals 453 grams, then you’ll need to buy 2.62 pounds of meat (170 grams x 7 days = 1,190 grams) in order to get through the week with your protein intact.
You don’t even need to do the math in your head!
Just Google ‘how many grams in pounds’ for their conversion calculator, and it’ll whip out exactly what you need. You can do this for your carbs and fats as well, if you’re so inclined. But know your protein amounts at a minimum.
That’ll help you cut costs for your meats and prevent you from over-buying and having to store more foods in your freezer. Or, it’ll help you diversify your proteins and catch them from other sources (eggs, whey protein shakes, different lean meats, etc).
Buy Less Packaged Or Frozen
While that microwaved mashed potato dish might seem enticing and lower-priced than the bag of whole potatoes, it’s actually neither of those things.
The packaged dish has higher bad fats, more unnatural oils, and more processed ingredients that add to your waistline.
And it’s not cheap. It’ll feed you for a day, maybe two. But the bag of potatoes will serve you for days. That goes for rice, frozen vegetables, and any other packaged food that has a whole-food counterpart.
Yes, it’ll take more time to cook. And it’s less convenient than the microwave. But you’ll save your money and your waistline – which is a win in anyone’s book.
And at the end of the day, the aisle will absolutely drain your bank account. Companies are finding ways to fit smaller portions in smaller packages at the same (or rising) prices.
You can absolutely save money buying only the whole-food varieties because they will last longer.
The Grocery Store Is The Ultimate Boss Battle
The grocery store can ultimately help you in your desire to look, feel, and perform better. But it is the ultimate boss battle in terms of your success with nutrition.
It can be a friend or an enemy on any given day, but that choice is up to you. It can help you to be a better cook, cook more at home, and eat more nutrient dense foods.
Restaurants, fast food, and gas stations may have their place in the wide spectrum of blame for our obesity epidemic, but you have to choose to go there.
For the grocery store, it’s a need, unless you own a self-sustaining farm or eat a carnivore diet based out of the butcher’s shop.
Let it serve and sustain you, rather than you serving and sustaining the corporation.