How to Grocery Shop Like a Pro

Since sitting in the kid seat while shopping with my mom at Wegman’s, I have always loved a good trip to the grocery. In college, I looked forward to my weekly visits to Adams Fairacre Farms and in NYC, I have made it a ritual, rather than a chore, to visit my city’s Greenmarkets, Trader Joe’s and neighborhood specialty shops. Here are a 5 tips I keep in mind before I food shop (and most other types of shopping, for that matter!)

Make a list. Even if you are not the list-making type, at the very least jot down the major essentials. A simple list does double duty to simplify your trip and prevent impulse purchases (good for your wallet + your waistline!)

Don’t arrive hungry. Even if you are down to the bare cupboards, eat something, anything, before heading to the store. In a pinch, grab a piece of fruit from the produce section (but be sure to pay for it at the checkout!)

Shop the perimeter. This might be my #1 trick for anyone who wants to stick to a budget and eat healthy. Think about it: most of the good-for-you stuff is located in the refrigerated section (fruits + veggies, lean protein, dairy). Venture in “the middle” for dry items like rice, pasta, beans and other basics.

Be wary of sales. I love a good sale as much as the next gal, but sometimes not all sales save you money. Like a little black dress on clearance, pay attention to discounts on items you buy frequently. A 10 for $10 special on boxes of your favorite whole wheat couscous is a steal, but a similar sale on, say, perishable hummus will not save you money in the end.

Shop like your grandmother. Or your great-grandmother, for that matter. Back in the good ol’ days before fruit roll-ups and Kraft mac n’ cheese, people bought…food. Apples, lettuce, eggs, milk – real, whole foods instead of  those overly packaged or processed. Think fruit instead of juice, plain oatmeal instead of sugary cereal and fresh organic meat instead of pre-cooked packaged or frozen. I’ve been eating this way for over 5 years, and let me tell you, it’s far from boring. It’s better for your health and wallet. Put down those 100 calorie packs!

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