I love grocery shopping. I’ve loved it for as long as I can remember. I enjoy browsing up and down each aisle, looking for new things to try. But I understand that most people aren’t as smitten with this particular errand. And I don’t blame you, especially if you’re trying to keep things healthy.
How to shop healthier at the grocery store
It can be really confusing to know what to buy, and food marketing certainly doesn’t help. You’ve probably heard the tip to shop the perimeter of the grocery store. I think that’s generally good advice because that’s where the fresh produce is. But there’s no need to limit yourself! You can find lots of healthy options in the aisles. I wanted to share a few tiny tweaks you can make at the grocery store to help you shop a little healthier without breaking the bank.
Try something new
If you’ve never used acorn squash, grab one! If you always reach for kale, grab some collard greens. Trying new fruits and vegetables will keep you from getting bored with the same old thing. Find a recipe you love and try adding one new element. Toss some butternut squash into your salad or try a little sliced zucchini in your pasta. You might find a new favorite.
Read the labels
I can’t emphasize this enough. I’ve fallen into the trap of assuming that just because something is organic or marketed as “healthy” that I don’t need to check the label. You’d be surprised how often “natural” peanut butter contains high fructose corn syrup or other added sugars. Even if it looks healthy, check the package before tossing it in your cart!
Don’t stick to your list
Is it a good idea to have a list? Yes. Should you always follow it? Not necessarily. You might plan on grabbing zucchini, but when you get to the grocery store, you find that spaghetti squash is on sale. Can you swap out one squash for another? Could you grab that bag of kale that’s on sale, rather than the spinach you planned on getting? Shop the sales, and you might be able to get some good discounts! You can also get bargains on produce that is just about to expire. If you know you’ll use it soon, snatch it up! If you’re on a budget, try these five tips for saving money!
Try online grocery shopping
If you find yourself impulse-buying cheese puffs because you can’t resist their siren call, online grocery ordering might be the best option! It’s easier to stick to healthy options when you’re not surrounded by temptation. Using services like Instacart, Prime Now, or Clicklist is a great way to save time and money. Shopping from your kitchen also makes it easier to avoid buying things that you forgot you have in your pantry. (Does anyone else have 14 jars of salsa in the back of their pantry?)
Buy in-season produce
In-season produce is fantastic because it tends to be cheaper and it tastes better. Have you ever noticed that strawberries in the summer taste a million times better than the ones in the winter? In-season produce can also be a great way to get inspired to try something new! This website has a handy list of what’s in season each time of the year.
Shop the bulk bins
This is one of my favorite tips to save money! If your grocery store has bulk bins, you can usually find things like dried fruit, nuts, beans, granola, and quinoa for a lower price. Shopping the bulk bins also allows you to buy the exact amount you need. If you’re just looking for a few pine nuts to toss into a salad, you don’t have to purchase a whole pound. It also gives you a chance to try something new without having to commit to a full container!
These little tweaks can make a difference! For more tiny tweaks, check out a few of these other ideas!
See? Getting healthier doesn’t have to be hard! Little steps can make a big difference.
What are your tips for shopping healthier?
Originally published October 2015. Updated March 2020.