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10 Tips for Healthy Grocery Shopping

Menu planning and grocery shopping go hand in hand.

Menu planning and grocery shopping go hand in hand for better health and wellness. Grocery shopping doesn't have to be a dreaded chore. Get the tips at Jill Conyers| Fitness Health & Happiness

How do you feel about grocery shopping? Love it or would rather not? The thing is I love to grocery shop. Part of the reason I love it is I’ve learned a thing or 2 (or 10) from experience that makes grocery shopping efficient and enjoyable rather than a dreaded time consuming chore.

You have your menu planned now what?

You are menu planning right?

It’s time to do the shopping. Many view grocery shopping as a chore, but it has to be done. So, whether you love it or hate it the following tips can make it less of a chore, efficient and, yes, even enjoyable.

Make a list and stick to it. Shopping is more efficient with a list. After you plan recipes for the week write down what is needed. Check to see what ingredients you already have on hand and cross them off the list. Double check with your recipes just to be sure you’re not missing any ingredients. It only takes a few minutes to double check but it will save you time compared to not having what you need when you go to make the recipe.

Eat before you shop. If you shop when you’re hungry everything looks good and that can lead to unexpected and unplanned items in your grocery cart.

Support your local farmers. Before heading to the grocery store stop by your favorite farmer’s market. You can save on organic and conventional produce by buying locally and you know who is growing your food.

Shop with the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) compiled 2 helpful lists for consumers. The fruits and vegetables on the Dirty Dozen list tested high for pesticide residue when grown conventionally and should be purchased organic. The Clean 15 list includes fruits and vegetables that tested lower in levels of pesticide residue. Visit http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/ to download the most up to date lists.

Save with coupons. Save money by visiting the coupon section on the websites of the stores you shop most often and by asking the store clerk for the coupon handouts/booklets. We’re not talking extreme couponing here. Just simple and  convenient ways to save money on your next grocery shopping trip.

If not fresh buy frozen. Frozen foods are a fast solution that adds convenience to hectic schedules. Some fresh produce won’t stay fresh for the whole week so frozen is a great option for fewer mid-week trips to the grocery store to buy fresh fruits and veggies and food thrown away is at a minimum, if any at all.

Menu planning and grocery shopping go hand in hand for better health and wellness.

Shop the perimeter. Packaged and processed foods are the bulk of what is found on the center aisles.

Skip the junk food. If tempting “treats” aren’t conveniently in the house you’re less likely to eat them. This may be an opinion provoking tip but hear me out. If sweets and treats are not conveniently and readily available in your pantry you’re less like to eat them often. That’s not to say don’t ever enjoy a a treat. Instead, find a healthy alternative to satisfy a sweet or salty snack craving.

Menu planning and grocery shopping go hand in hand for better health and wellness.

Buy in bulk. Buying in bulk is cost effective and a convenient way to keep your pantry stocked with the foods you use most often and in the right amounts. You can customize the quantity needed specifically for your recipes.

Know your PLUs. The price look up code on produce are usually four and five-digits. Four-digits indicate conventionally grown. A five-digit code beginning with the number 9 is for organic items and a five-digit code beginning with the number 8 indicates the item was genetically modified.

I enjoy grocery shopping. My husband and I almost always go shopping together and include eating out for lunch. Grocery shopping is an opportunity to learn about new and different foods to try. Some might even say grocery shopping is relaxing.

If you’re not the grocery shopper in  your house share these tips with whoever does the shopping.

What tips do you have to make grocery shopping less of a chore? Where do you do most of your grocery shopping? Do you menu plan?

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Is one of your goals for the new year healthier eating, saving money on your grocery bill, enjoy more family meals prepared at home, eating out less often or reducing stress in your life? Do you have plans to start weekly meal prep or menu planning? If any of these sounds familiar you’re going to love this post.

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102 Comments

  1. Eating before you go is always something I advocate. It seems like I always buy more stuff when I go in hungry! I also love using the dirty dozen, and buying organic whenever possible.

  2. Megan McCoig says:

    I love the ‘eat before you shop’ tip, this would really help kick cravings and make you want to buy refreshing healthy foods. Thanks for the tips 🙂

  3. Shop before you eat is my favorite tip! My stomach is always on empty when I go to the grocery store.

  4. My grocery store always labels their produce with what local farm it came from. I love that so much!

  5. My husband took over the grocery shopping a few years ago now. I find he always does way better, for a lot less than me and the healthy options are plenty when he shops. I am usually hungry so you can imagine how that goes! These are some great tips I’ll share with him!

  6. Thank you for sharing some really great tips! My main healthy shopping tip is to buy products that haven’t been packed, yes they stay fresh for less time, but isn’t it a good thing?

  7. These are great tips. Grocery shopping is always a big thing, ya know? We spend soooo much and it is all really healthy. I feel like since its all healthy, we eat more.

  8. laura londergan says:

    I always shop from a list, shop when I have already eaten and only shop the perimeter of the store. I used to not follow these ways and it was a mess. lol

  9. This post is a fun read because it takes a mundane activity like Grocery Shopping and really allows you to think about the helpful tips! I have different moods whenever I do the grocery shopping. Sometimes I am excited (because I do some of the tips you suggested) and sometimes I am ambivalent. I will definitely try to do more of the shopping at the Farmer’s market. I find it enjoyable every time I go!

  10. I personally hate grocery shopping because it always seems to be so time consuming. I think that with your tips, I would be able to better manage my time at the supermarket and it wouldn’t seem like such drudgery to me.

  11. Menu planning is so much fun for me. I always make a list. However, I don’t often make it to the store since any grocery shopping involves a company of three small children. Delivery service has been my friend.

  12. These are great tips! I especially love the “eat before you shop”. That can make or break the bank when it comes to shopping.

  13. I am thinking I should start meal planning because every time I have to think about dinner I have an anxiety attack. Thanks for the great Grocery Shopping idea. I always end up buying too many preztels and cereal.

  14. Great tips! I had no idea about the PLU codes. Definitely going to watch out for the 4 and 5 digit codes now when I go grocery shopping. I also took a look at the dirty dozen and clean fifteen lists. It’s strange that regular potatoes are on the dirty dozen list but sweet potatoes are on the clean fifteen. I would never have guessed that!

  15. eliz frank says:

    I love to get things that we eat regularly in bulk and during sales… It’s a smart shopping approach. i love all your other tips too. 🙂

  16. Great tips! I definitely need to have a list in hand to stay focused…though truth be told, of late, my husband is doing most of our grocery shopping.

    1. Hi Elena, I’ve been writing grocery lists so long I can’t even imagine going shopping without one. I’m curious, does your husband use a list when he does the shopping? Thanks!

  17. Great tps Jill! If I dont eat before I shop I buy the store!

  18. Kathleen D says:

    Jill I didn’t know about the PLU numbers, especially the “8” tip. Thanks!

  19. All awesome tips Jill! Every Sunday morning Jon and I plan our meals our for the upcoming week, make a list of only the things we need for that week, and then go to the store together. We’ve been doing it for over three years now and it works great for us. We save money by not having too much excess food and we make healthy choices by only having good options in the house. Our favorite grocery store is Wegman’s and I look forward to going!

    1. Thanks Jenna. Chad and I have had a similar routine for as long as I can remember and we’ve been married almost 22 years. That’s a lot of grocery lists and menus 🙂 I shop at Whole Foods and Kroger each for specific things.

  20. I LOVE to grocery shop and do my food shopping at Costco, HEB, and Trader Joe’s…all for specific things. Having a list is key so you don’t get distracted and it keeps you on track! There’s something about food shopping that I just find enjoyable…LOL

    1. I’m the same way about Whole Foods and Kroger. Each store for specific things. I rarely, if ever, see it as a chore.

    1. Hi Maryea, I sometimes shop alone, with my husband or it’s a family trip and I enjoy them all 🙂 Bulk bins are genius. They help cut back on so much waste and save $. Thanks!

  21. Going grocery shopping while hungry (or craving sweets) is the WORST for me!! Making a list helps (otherwise I forget key items), and sticking to the outer edges of the store work, too. Unless I need baking items 😉

    1. Hi Jess. I think the hungry shopping gets us all! Hungry shopping makes everything look so good 🙂

  22. Great tips! I have always been a menu planner; I’ve kept all my menus in a little notebook for years. So when I run out of meal ideas, I can always look back and see what we’ve had in the past. Bad recipes get a note next to them as well as outstanding ones. This has really helped us stay on track with healthy eating as well as sticking to our food budget.

    1. I keep old menus and make notes on them too. Great minds Wendy! I’ve menu planned for so long I can’t imagine not doing it.

    1. Hi Ange. Do you meal plan more often than not? I would love to start a menu planning business. Give me a few details and I’ll plan the menu for you 🙂

  23. Great list! I do quite a few of these, with my big family buying in bulk is a must! And I use a check list on my phone to make sure I pick up all of the items I need. I don’t always meal plan but I do always make sure I have the ingredients I need to put together a healthy meal 😀

    1. I used my iPad for the longest time. Maybe I need to go paperless again. Thanks Amber!

  24. Fantastic tips, Jill! I am so bad about going shopping on my way home from work, when I haven’t eaten and I’m hungry. I have to be really careful not to buy junk just because I’m hungry. And I’m all about the frozen fruits and veggies. They don’t spoil quickly and they’re just as (if not more) healthy!

    1. Hi Beth. I never want to do anything on my way home from work. Not even grocery shop.

  25. oh I love this! I hate grocery shopping (or shopping in general) so it’s good to know what I need so I can get in and out swiftly. I do love a good Farmers Market though!

    1. So happy you like it Mar! Farmers markets make grocery shopping even more fun. I think part of it is knowing the good you’re doing by supporting local farmers.

  26. Love it that everything is now in season and you can get everything at the Farmers Market! Great Tips!

    1. You must have a great local farmers market. I wish I could do all of my produce shopping at ours. Thanks Kate!

  27. Bulk Herbs and Spices = SO MUCH CHEAPER than packaged!!! It’s nuts. Same thing goes for fish – sure in Whole Foods they sell cooked salmon on their prepared food bar for like $25 a pound, but go over to the fish counter and that same salmon (raw) = $12 a pound and they can COOK IT FOR YOU THERE for the same price!! ha ha.

    1. I buy my fish at the fish counter at Whole Foods but I had no idea they will cook it for you. Thanks Gigi!

  28. I have such a terrible shop hungry problem, I’ll be the first to admit it, I end up buying (and eating) all the things. Love all these tips!

    1. I try so hard to not go hungry. It makes everything look so good! Thanks Jamie.

  29. You’re such a pro at this grocery business, Jill! You covered one of my most important grocery points – I am NOT allowed to grocery shop hungry 🙂 Who knows what treats and random stuff we will end up with at home then.

    Having a list and sticking to it is a MUST. When I shop with now both of the kids with me, it seems like my brain short circuits and I forget why I went to the store in the first place. Never leave the list!

    1. Mommy brain! It never goes away but we learn to work with it haha! Everything looks so good when you shop hungry.

      1. I really try NOT to be Jill! LOL. My husband does 90% of the cooking so he has a better handle on what we have and what we need. Thus, he does the bulk of the shopping. I also come home really grouchy so he tries to avoid that. l think I should do a post on how to survive the grocery store madness from a mental health perspective. LOL.

    1. My kids love Costco!! I should have mentioned mind your sampling. Whole Foods has a lot of samples too.

  30. I always menu plan, shop on Sundays and do food prep on Sundays. Makes everything so much easier!

  31. I didn’t know about the PLUs! Thank you for teaching me that, Jill! And thanks for hosting this fun link-up party. Happy to be involved this week!

    1. Happy to host Ashley! I love having you in the #fitfam to inspire and share your knowledge, especially about group fitness.

  32. I honestly enjoy grocery shopping! It’s so fun to pick out foods that will nourish me throughout the week. The bulk organics section is my favorite at Fred Meyer (West Coast’s Kroger).

    1. Laura that’s exactly how I see it. Kroger has recently started having a great organic produce section.

  33. Good tips here! I actually love to grocery shop. It never feels like a chore, but I DO need to be more organized about it. I’ve gotten very disorganized recently with my food hauls.

    1. Find a system that works for you and you’ll stick with it and be back with organized food hauls. Do you shop with a list? I’ve done it for so long I can’t even imagine going shopping for groceries listless.

    1. Do you ever grocery shop? Is it crazy that I actually look forward to it as one of my weekend errands? 🙂

  34. so many great ideas!! I recently just started adding frozen veggies to my meals and you’re right! SO much quicker and more convenient but still equally as healthy.
    buying in bulk is my favorite. i go to bulk barn at least once a week haha!
    I usually just make a list as the week goes on on my phone, and do all my groceries early sunday morning on my bike (yayy for summer riding!) that way i can get it all over with at once!

    1. I’ve never heard of bulk barn. They must have great deals. Love that you ride your bike to grocery shop.

  35. These are such great tips!! I wish I had time to meal plan, I usually just go to the grocery store and buy what’s fresh! I’m a big believer that all veggies go together though 🙂 And I always make sure to have enough rice, beans, quinoa and oats though. Definitely smart to check what you have before you buy, I may or may not have 4 containers of apple sauce because I don’t do this.

    1. I’m the same way right now with dijon mustard. The new jars were being put on the top shelf of the pantry out of sight so I kept buying it. Enjoy the applesauce 🙂

  36. YES! Eating before I shop is a total MUST! I have also found that I am eating way more veggies now that I buy them in bulk, frozen. I used to buy them all fresh and they’d go from my fridge to the trash because I kept not having time to cook them (I like other things more than veggies) so I figured frozen in the next best! Thanks for sharing Jill and have a great day!

    1. Thanks Diane! I was the same before I started buying frozen fruits and veggies. Little to no waste now.

  37. GREAT advice Jill! This is so helpful! Definitely agree with eating before….that used to get me haha. I also try to make veggies the main bulk of my food, and then when I get home make meals around them….rather than them being an afterthought! Sharing with the RC world!

  38. I recently told Will about “shopping the perimeter” and he was amazed. That’s the best tip I’d give anyone 🙂

    1. I avoid most the middle lanes. My kids are a different story but at least they’re learning.

    1. I know! Haha it’s amazing what ends up in the grocery cart when I shop hungry 🙂

  39. I pretty much always menu plan and shop off a list. It makes my shopping efficient which I like. I never bother going down the chips/crackers/cookie aisles. If you don’t go down them you won’t be tempted.

    1. Exactly Jen! If it’s not in the house and I have a craving it is unlikely I’m going to get in the car and drive to the store for that craving. I just taught my daughter about the inside aisles and once she put our conversation together with a trip to the grocery store she actually thought it was cool.

    1. Me too Erin! It relaxes. And, I love learning from the produce people. It’s always a pleasure to chat with them. Is that strange?

  40. I will be putting sometime in my menu planning this week. I have some ideas, but if I don’t put them on paper, it will not happen.
    Thanks for the opportunity of connecting with everyone.

  41. We do the bulk of our shopping at Aldi’s and supplement at Kroger.

    1. I’ve never shopped at Aldi’s but I do shop at Kroger. They have an awesome organic section now.

  42. I love sticking to a LIST for sure – without that other things seem enticing but aren’t needed. Hope you are doing well my friend!

    1. Hi Katrina. So weird. I was just thinking about you the other day. Now I can’t remember why. How are you?

      Me? I’m great and will be even better after the NASM exam is over 🙂

  43. Great tips! The bulk bins have been a perfect discovery for me. You save money, but it is also a way to experiment and buy the exact amount you need/want.

    1. Me too Lauren! Like the times when I only needed a 1/4 cup of an ingredient. Very little if any waste. Score!

  44. Great tips Jill! I do enjoy going grocery shopping, although it can be hectic with the kids! I love preparing veggies, but do need to do better at planning!

    1. Hi Michelle. I love it when my kids go with me. It’s not hectic when they’re 16 and 18 🙂 Start meal planning!

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