As a dietitian, I have helped many people with grocery shopping. You may be surprised, but grocery shopping is not easy to do. Well, it is not easy to do well.
Ever come home from grocery shopping feeling like you still have nothing to eat?
Ever come home from the grocery store but you still do not know what to make for dinner?
Ever browse the grocery isles confused and overwhelmed?
Ever go grocery shopping and feel compelled to purchase all the fresh fruits and vegetables because you know you should?
Well, you are not alone! Like I said, effective grocery shopping is not easy to do. But in this post, I will give you clear tips and strategies on how to grocery shop for the week. For additional information check out my book Kitchen Confidence.
How to grocery shop for the week
Tip 1: Purchase food based on food groups not food
By purchasing based on food groups, you will have a meal to create at the end of the day. When I say meal, I mean a plate that is balanced, nourishing, and will fill you up. Not just a bunch of sides or snacks.
So what should a plate look like?
We want to aim for most of our meals to look like this. Not everyone, because come on life happens. But if you strive for your plate to look like mostly fruit and or veggies, 30% proteins and fats, and then 20% high fiber carbohydrates you will be in good shape. And yes, you made need to change the balance of your plate for therapeutic reasons, but in general majority of us will be healthy by eating like this.
What carbohydrates do you like?
- Whole grains & Wheat products
- rice, barley, quinoa, faro, pasta, oats, sourdough
- Corn based products
- grits, masa harina, cornmeal
- Starchy vegetables
- potatoes, peas, corn, plantains
- Beans/legumes (also a protein)
What proteins do you like?
- Meats & Poultry
What fruits & Veggies do you like? - too many to list!
What fats do you like?
- full fat dairy products
What condiments/sauces/dressings and snacks do you like?
Make yourself a list of each food group. Then select 5 - 7 foods from each group depending on the number of times you eat at home, how large your family is and if you like leftovers or not. If you have something from each food group, you will be able to make a complete meal.
This may look like a total of 4 dinner proteins, 2 breakfast proteins, 10 servings of vegetables, 5 servings of fruit, 4 dinner carbohydrates, 2 breakfast carbohydrates plus any additional condiments and snacks that you and your family enjoy.
Tip 2: Determine realistically how many times are you going to eat at home?
This is important. You may want to eat home every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but always wind up getting takeout for lunch. While this may be something that you want to work on, its important to understand this change may not happen right away. Change takes time and practice. So be kind to yourself and focus on this once you get all your other ducks in a row.
So let's say you realistically will eat dinner home 5 days/week, breakfast home every day, and lunch will be 3 days/week. That is 15 meals that you have to purchase food for.
Tip 3: Loosely meal plan
I am personally not a big fan of picking the exact meals I am going to eat for the week, but instead I will have a general idea.
For example, I may decide Monday I am going to make a rice and bean dish, Tuesday I am going to make a taco meal, Wednesday I am going to make a soup, etc. I then purchase the proteins, carbohydrates, and veggies I need to make those meals.
Tip 4: Reflect on the past weeks
Do you generally under purchase or over purchase? Which meals do you feel are lacking? Do you always wish you had a snack in the middle of the day? Do you have a lot of food waste? If so, what do you waste? Do you hate cutting fresh fruits and vegetables? Then get frozen or produce that is already pre-cut. Remember we want to be realistic with our habits and our time. Yes, it may cost more and be less environmentally friendly to purchase a pineapple that's already cut, but it's far worst to let the pineapple rot because you never got around to cutting it.
Tip 5: Stick to your List
It is really easy once you get to the grocery store to divert from the list and purchase random items. But stay strong! Grocery stores do not place their items randomly. There is a very strategic method of everything in that store. Where each category is, where specifically the item is placed, the lighting that is used, the music that is playing. Their goal is for you to purchase food, making it easy to be enticed to purchase random items that you did not want to.