I am guilty of impulse shopping when I go to the grocery store. I’m buying more fruits and vegetables at the Farmer’s Markets, meats at a local specialty store, but I still have to go to the grocery store. There’s just no way around it. One of my goals this past year has been to buy less processed junk and more whole, clean foods. Despite the fact that I’ve lost weight, I admit that going to the grocery store has been a shopping horror at times. To change it to an opportunity, I’ve had to adopt some habits and strategies for the obstacle course called a grocery store. Here are a few suggestions to try and make shopping an, organized (and as fast as the line will move) opportunity.
1. Make a list and USE IT. As you use up the last of any item, write it down on a list you keep updated throughout the week. This will keep you organized and avoid impulsive purchases as long as you stick to the list. Keep this list out in the open so your family can add to it too.
2. Avoid making two trips. If at all possible, try and do most of your errands the same day you do your grocery shopping. Make sure you take that list along with you, so you can go on the errand run without forgetting anything. Two trips can result in buying extra things you don’t need, spend extra money and chalk up more unnecessary food choices that are usually unhealthy.
3. Be prepared. I wasn’t a Girl Scout but as you set out to the grocery store – be prepared. When it is time to shop for your groceries, try and limit it to one day a week. Get your list, check it to make sure everything is on it that you need, organize any coupons you can use. Have a special plastic folder or envelope to hold your coupons and list, and keep it with you. If you should unexpectedly have time in your day, stop at the store and get your shopping done as it works into your schedule.
4. Plan your route. Just as with any trip, know your route. If you are running errands and need to stop at multiple stores, be organized if you have to make several stops, can save you both time and money with the high cost of gasoline.
5. Map it out. If you shop at the same grocery store, know where the aisles are and grocery items in each one. The best areas of the grocery store are the outer perimeter areas. Stop and think about it…..the fruits and vegetables, proteins, dairy are located around the outer perimeter. Generally, the processed foods are in the center aisles. Hang out as little as you can in the center aisles. Most unhealthy food choices and impulse buying is made in the center aisles of processed food and the checkstands. You’ll be able to easily pick up the items on your shopping list aisle by aisle, instead of in a random, disorganized fashion. This will help you get in and out of the store in no time.
6. Leave the kiddos at home. If at all possible, leave the kids at home. They call fall into the impulsive buying so easily (as evidenced by the commercials and layout of items in the stores). Kids can put pressure on parents to purchased unplanned purchases. Plus your focus then needs to be divided between the grocery shopping and making sure the kids aren’t pulling things off the shelves, or putting items you don’t wish to purchase in your cart.
7. Keep ‘em cool. Keep a bag or cooler in the trunk that can hold your perishable items. This will ensure no melted and leaky frozen food packages. Generally shop for groceries last when doing the errands–this way the frozen things won’t have a chance to melt.
8. Instruct the Baggers. Request that the Bagger pack all perishables together in the bags so you can grab them first when you return home. This also gives you the option of leaving the non-perishables to unpack at your leisure.
9. Think about your calendar. Look over your schedule for the upcoming week to see if there is something unusual you will be using in a recipe, or an event that may be coming up for which you need to purchase a card or gift. Put that on your list also.
10. Plan your recipes. Select the recipes you’ll prepare through the week. Add the ingredients to your grocery list rather than try to remember (and miss) items you’ll need. This will save unnecessary stops at the grocery store during the week for that one forgotten item!
11. Do a bit of prep work. When you get home and unpack your groceries, do some preliminary meal preparation. Cook meat and then package it into meal sized dinners. Wash all your fruit and veggies. Cut the veggies so you can just put them into the dishes you plan on making. This can be a real time saver for your meal preparation.
12. Double up. Plan on cooking a double recipe for some meals. Eat one and freeze the other for a busy weeknight dinner.
13. Create a meal plan. By having a meal plan for the week, along with the items needed list, you should have a quick and easy shopping adventure each and every week. Doesn’t leave room for impulsive food choices as much.
14. Think outside the box. If you are particularly busy or unable to make your grocery trip, ask your spouse or friend to help you out. Just as you assist them when they need you, same applies for you – even in a grocery store trip. Sometimes delegation to others can be a very self-nurturing thing to do for yourself and a way for loved ones to give back to you as well.
These are some of the strategies I’ve used to change my grocery store trips from a shopping horror to an opportunity to promote my health, find new items to incorporate into my nutritional intake and my family. Grocery stores can be a fun adventure if you plan it right. Make it work for you!
Believe In Yourself,
Cathy, PCC-ICF, CLC
Professional Certified Coach, Certified Life Coach
Certified Back On Track Facilitator