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6 Healthy Grocery Shopping Hacks Nutritionists Swear By

January 10, 2024

The beginning of a healthy eating journey starts at the grocery store. You need to pick up the right ingredients and plan the right meals in order to cook up something nutritious that won’t leave you craving sweets at midnight.

Once you have a kitchen stocked with fresh produce, whole grains, and lean proteins, you’ll be on the right track. That’s why your grocery shopping experience matters so much. It’s way too easy to get sidetracked by the potato chips and bakery section.

If you’re looking to lose weight or switch up your diet, having a few healthy grocery hacks up your sleeve for those trips to the grocery store will come in super handy. Registered dietitians shared six great hacks that will help turn your grocery shopping trip into an easy, stress-free run.

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1. Make a grocery list

Seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people head to the grocery store without a list or plan of what they’d want to make for the week. Taking inventory of your pantry and fridge before heading out will also help with your budget. “By looking at what you have in the refrigerator and pantry you reduce buying double, overspending, and buying what you actually need,” Blanca Garcia, RDN at Healthcanal says.

“Also, making a list helps reduce buying on a whim. As life gets busy grocery shopping can happen when you are hungry. Grocery shopping while hungry can make even the most disciplined shopper buy without control. A list helps you stick to your plan no matter the situation.”

2. Shop in the morning

Heading to the grocery store earlier in the day will not only cross off one giant task off your to-do list before noon, but you’re more likely to score the best product. “Most grocery stores stock up overnight, and the best and freshest fruits and vegetables are available in the morning. By the end of the day those fruits and vegetables will have been sitting out at room temperature all day,” Garcia explains.

3. Buy produce in season

Plan your meals around which produce will be the best quality according to the season when they are available right from harvesting and at a lower price. By buying produce when it’s the best quality, you’re ensuring a delicious meal filled with healthy and quality produce that will surely make you want to make the meal again.

Garcia explains, “Out of season fruits and vegetables means they have been stored for long periods, or transported from farther away, making them less fresh and pricier.”

4. Stick to the outer boundary of the grocery store

When entering the grocery store, always stick to the outer perimeters first. That’s where you’ll find the fresh produce, dairy produce, deli items, and protein options.

“Most items in the middle aisles are processed foods like cereals, sugary cookies, and sodas. The trick is to stick to the outer layout and only enter the aisles for items on your list like laundry detergent and grains which are also sometimes in the aisle section,” Garcia explains.

5. Don’t grocery shop on an empty stomach

We’ve all been here before. Grocery shopping while hungry is a different kind of struggle. That’s why nutritionists recommend having a good, filling meal before heading to the store.

“Stay out of the grocery store hungry. Your stomach will be doing all the talking and navigating if you go into a grocery store hungry,” Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Jonathan Valdez at E-Health Project says.

Kimberly Gomer MS, RD/LDN agrees with this notion. “We’ve all heard this but circumstances can lead to not adhering to this important rule. Go when hunger isn’t coaxing you into unhealthy choices,” she said.

6. Find a personal mantra

There is also a mental component that comes with having a healthy relationship with the grocery store and ensuring you have the best, most effective and efficient trip while buying food.

Gomer recommends having a personal mantra that will help when you find yourself straying from your healthy lifestyle such as: “I will only buy foods that are on my list” or “I choose to buy the foods that will provide me with high energy and health.”

Read next: The Best Grocery Products of 2023, According to Our Editors

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