How To Shop At The Grocery Store Without Getting Sidetracked

Words: Katrina Rose Wind

Going to the grocery store can be stressful for some. When you’re pressed for time, running around the grocery store trying to grab everything you need can be taxing, and if you’re trying to watch you eat, well, it’s like entering the lion’s den. Shopping, although somewhat of a nuisance, doesn’t have to be traumatic. We’ve come up with ways to get you in and out of the store without getting sidetracked.

Never Go On An Empty Stomach

First and foremost, never go to the grocery store hungry. If you don’t have time to eat a full meal before going to the shops try to at least eat a snack before. Shopping while hungry just increases the chance of impulse buys, it also makes it more difficult to stick to your list, leaving you to forget why you really went into the store in the first place. Have something healthy like a few almonds or a cracker with a dollop of smashed avo, so that your sugar levels don’t drop mid-shop. Check out these snack ideas.

Make A List, And Stick To It

A big food trend (life trend really) is trying to reduce food waste. Avoid buying unnecessary items that can go off quickly simply by making a list of staples and ingredients you need. Go a step further and categorise your shopping list to save you time while you’re in the store. So if you know you’re going to need a bunch of tinned goods, such as lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, etc, make sure to write them all down in the same part of your list. Never shop aimlessly again!

Consider Recipes You’ll Be Making Beforehand

This is a grocery store shopping hack that has saved me some money. It’s hard to think of recipes or meal plan on the spot, which of course, leads to overbuying. A simple outline of meals you’re planning on preparing that week can help guide you more easily around the store, and also help you avoid buying unnecessary items.

Don’t Rely On Prepared Foods

Yes, we know that prepared food can save you time in the kitchen but it might not be the healthiest or smartest option in the long run. Buying pre-chopped onions might be tempting but there is a huge markup if you compare it to buying a whole onion, plus you get more of the onion when buying it fresh. You also might want to think twice before buying that pre-cooked potato salad, you can make a much healthier, much cheaper version at home. These pre-prepared items are great if you need to save time but don’t make them a habit.

Take Your Reusable Bags

Almost every grocery store nowadays charges you per plastic bag that you use, some aren’t even selling plastic bags anymore and charge you for a tote. Do the earth and your pocket a favour and bring your reusable bags to the grocery store instead. It may not seem like you’re saving that much money but it sure does add up over time. Hot tip: leave a few in the boot of your car and return them back there when you’re done. That way you always have a few on hand.

Shop Alone

If you’re trying to save some time, go alone. Going with people can be a distraction and makes the whole grocery shopping experience take longer than it needs to. Plus people have a tendency to sway you in the direction of buying unnecessary items, like that bag of potato chips that you’ve been trying to avoid or that ice cream you’ve been steering clear of. If you can go alone, we highly recommend it.

Look At The Sales Beforehand

Most stores have items going on sale every week and looking for them at the grocery store while you’re shopping can be time-consuming. Avoid wasting time and preview the sales online before going to the store. Not only will you know what to expect but you know what items you need and where to go in the store before even entering. Another tip, don’t completely cancel out store brands, a lot of the time it tastes exactly the same as other brands and are almost always cheaper. Spar brand coffee pods ftw!

Don’t Shy Away From Tinned Foods

Legumes are the unsung heroes of the pandemic and for good reason. They are nutritious, cheap and can cut your cooking time down by a lot, especially if you’re trying to eat a more plant-based diet. That being said, the same can be said for tinned tomatoes. If you know you’re going to be making pasta avoid buying premade sauces and make your own at home. Tinned tomatoes make it so much easier and more cost-effective.

Try To Buy Frozen Items Once A Month

Consider freezer items like pantry staples, necessary but best to buy in bulk once a month. That way, you don’t have to stress about your frozen items melting while you’re trying to shop for fresh items. Get it out of the way in one trip that is scheduled solely for bulk items. If you need to do both in one trip, make sure you do dry goods first and frozen foods last before heading to the till.

Not Everything You Buy Has To Be Organic

Yes, it is better to eat organic foods. No, not everything has to be organic. Foods like onions, avocados, corn, cauliflower, aubergines and more don’t have to be organic. These food items have been proved to be less likely to be contaminated with pesticide residues making it completely fine to buy. Same goes for packaged goods, some items that are labelled as “organic” such as cookies or crackers might not have any nutritional difference to their “non-organic” counterpart. If you’re not sure about this one, make sure to read the back and compare before splurging on something that might not be worth it.

If you follow all these tips next time you go grocery shopping, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you’ve been able to pick out all the items you need, all the while still shopping smart. Happy shopping!

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