Grocery shopping can be both a wonderfully relaxing and extremely stressful event; too many people, not enough stock, long lines and more. When it comes to making the trip to the grocery store relaxing and enjoyable, there are a few major things that can help you save time so you arrive prepared and ready to go. Use these 6 simple tips to help you conquer your next grocery store quest.
1. Make a List
First and foremost, the most important thing to do before you go shopping is to make a list of what you will need to purchase. Making a list can help you focus on getting what you need, prevent forgetting key items and can also help to save you time and money. Use our Reboot with Joe Shopping List Template to help you.
Tip: Start your week by planning the items you’ll need during your grocery shopping trip to keep you going for your three meals and snacks. Here are a few easy categories to add to your checklist when it comes to planning your grocery trip:
- Nuts, seeds & legumes
- Protein-rich foods (plant, and/or animal based)
- Ingredients for juices/smoothies & snacks
2. Find Fresh Food Fast.
When it comes to finding the healthiest food during your grocery trip it’s key to know where to look and what to look for.
- Fresh food and produce is placed on the outside walls of the supermarket– fruits and vegetables, cold storage for things like hummus and guacamole, eggs and dairy, the butcher, seafood and more. The outside four walls of the store is where you should plan to spend most of your time.
- When it comes to finding the freshest and cheapest produce, aim to look for produce that’s seasonal (look here for what’s in season). Seasonal produce is cheaper because it’s not imported, and it also has far fewer pesticides than imported produce due to stricter it’s cheaper because it’s not imported and it’s fresher too because it’s picked closer to the time of sale.
- Always remember to look for produce that looks the freshest by avoiding wilted lettuce, checking your produce for mold (berries especially!) – this will save you another run to the grocery store as well as money.
- Check any food that has a sell-by or expiration date. Most often, the food that is closest to reach on the shelf (particularly when there is more product behind, further back on the shelf) will be that which expires the soonest; for the freshest products reach back behind the produce closest to the front. This is particularly true for meat. Make sure you check your dates!
- Understand PLU codes to help easily you identify organic vs. non-organic produce. The PLU code is the code on the sticker found on the fruit/vegetable and it’s important to note that organic produce will have a PLU code starting with the number 9 (for example, 9-4511); organic produce will also have a five digit PLU code versus a four digit code on conventional produce.
3. Stay to the Perimeters
Plan your route at the store. Stick to the aisles and locations within the store that have the food you’re looking for (Hint: The freshest and healthiest food is along the outer walls of the super market). Taking unnecessary trips down aisles that have food you’re not purchasing can result in impulsive buys of junk food.
Tip: Get to know your grocery store; find out where the produce and food you purchase most often is located. This will help you save time during your trip and will help you to avoid purchasing packaged food in aisles that you don’t need to visit.
4. Avoid Sunday Night Shopping
This is another important factor to consider when it comes to having a stress-free and productive shopping trip. Shopping at busier times can make the process more chaotic and may result in having to go back for a second trip if items are not available.
Tip: Aim to start by shopping at different times of the day (evening, morning, lunch break- or whenever you can fit it in). Find a few times that are less busy than others that also work with your schedule and plan to shop at those times. Shopping when there are fewer people at the store will help you cut down on time spent shopping as well as stress.
5. Create a Routine
Creating a routine for grocery shopping can be extremely helpful when it comes to helping you get to the supermarket. Plan the activities both before and after you shop and try to repeat them on a weekly (or biweekly basis) – so that the trip to the store is just another part of your regular routine.
Tip: When it comes to creating a routine for shopping, planning to go once weekly on your way home from work (for example, Tuesday nights) and sticking to that routine as much as you can will help you continue to get there. Getting to the grocery store is perhaps the most important aspect of the shopping process – as being unable to go, or avoiding the trip to the supermarket can leave you unprepared with all of the food you need to make clean, simple and healthy dishes.
6. Have a Plan B
Life gets busy, it just does, so have a backup plan in place in case you cannot get to the grocery store on a certain day or certain week.
- Plan to purchase items like frozen vegetables, frozen organic chicken or tofu ready on hand in your freezer in case you need it
- Identify a few restaurants that can either deliver or that you can pick up from on evenings that you either do not have the time or desire to cook or get to the grocery store
- If you live in an area where there are online delivery services for grocery stores (like in the New York Metro Area- Instacart or Fresh Direct are great options to have on hand), plan to have an account and get familiar with the ordering process