How to Grocery Shop Logically

The Grocery Store Approach

When I work with clients without healthy grocery shopping habits, I first teach them the simplest approach: the importance of shopping with a list and the layout of the store.  Most grocery stores have the whole foods in the larger areas surrounding the aisles-the perimeter of the store.  This includes: produce, meat & fish, and sometimes dairy.

Tips to intelligently perusing the produce section: read the signs for the produce as it usually has its origin listed, avoid the shelves of dried fruits and salted nuts & seeds, and check out how colorful your additions make your cart-the more colorful, the better.

The origin of your produce is important because the farther it travels to get to your store, the more likely it is to be chemically treated. The placement of dried fruits and roasted, salted nuts & seeds in the section is like putting candy in the middle of the healthiest section of the store!  If you read the dried fruit labels, 99% of the time it says sugar in the ingredient list-ugh, so unnecessary!  It is the same for the nut choices because oftentimes, they do not have the healthier raw, unsalted nut options.

Another tip I work with clients on is creating variety in their diet and it simply starts with making their shopping cart colorful!  With produce, color oftentimes means different nutrients.  For example: orange-colored produce most likely has beta-carotene whereas a green, leafy vegetable most likely has vitamin K.  So, to get the most nutrients possible, buying a variety of colored fruits and veggies will provide you with a plethora of health benefits.

Avoiding the interior aisles, especially the added food aisles like the: candy aisle, frozen food aisle, snack food aisle, canned goods aisle, etc. If you are shopping hungry and without a grocery list, have a lack of self-control, or suffer from being lured in by the markdown deals that are around the stores, just going down these aisles is a bad idea.

Having a grocery list written before you go that is organized by your store’s sections is a great way to stay on target and away from the things you do not need in the house.  Sections I have on my list are: produce, lean meat/fish, grains, ingredients (for baking/recipes,) and condiments.  I reakdown the recipes I plan to cook into these sections as well with a great tool: www.epicurious.com.  If you add the recipe on this site to your “shopping list,” the ingredients show up all organized for you! Then, I either email myself or print it out for my trip to the store.

NutritionAshley Pettit