6 mistakes you’re making at the grocery store and easy fixes
Line up your grocery carts and get ready to navigate the store like a health and budget-savvy pro.
There are some money and diet traps lurking in grocery stores and we’ve all likely fallen for some of them. (Hint: You’re guilty if you’ve bought canned veggies because of the convenience factor or impulsively purchased that celeb magazine because you absolutely had to know what Britney Spears looks like without makeup).
Here are some common grocery store mistakes, and some easy fixes:
- Buying canned veggies. Let us first pat you on the back for eating your veggies. But, if you are buying for convenience — you’re much better off buying frozen vegetables. Here’s why: Canned vegetables are packed with sodium. Too much sodium in your diet causes your body to hold on to extra water, which puts an extra burden on your heart and blood vessels and can lead to high blood pressure. Frozen vegetables are usually processed at their peak ripeness when they are packing the most nutrients. If you buy frozen, be sure to microwave or steam your vegetables instead of boiling them to prevent the loss of water-soluble vitamins. There is some good news when it comes to canned vegetables, though. A study from the University of Illinois found they contain the same amount of fiber as their frozen or fresh counterparts. Also, lots of brands have “low-sodium” options.
- Shopping center aisles. Danger, danger! This is the habitat of overly processed foods. As a general rule of thumb, watch out for packaged snacks and foods that have more than a half dozen ingredients listed on their labels — especially if you have a tough time pronouncing those ingredients. When you shop the perimeter you’re more likely to get foods in their most natural forms and fill up your cart with foods from the almighty food pyramid.
- Buying multi-grain. While it may sound healthy, you actually want to be buying “whole grain.” Whole grain means all parts of the grain kernel are used, including the endosperm, germ and bran. Multi-grain means various grains are used, but none of them are necessarily whole grains.
- Buying anything from the checkout aisle. This is a well-known trap where small-ticket items such as soda, individually wrapped Chapstick and magazines are majorly marked up. You’re much better off buying in bulk, or, in the case of magazines, getting a subscription.
- Shopping without a list. Before you go to the grocery store, take a quick inventory of your cabinets and refrigerator so that you don’t end up with a fifth bottle of barbecue sauce. Make a list of what you need. When you plan out your meals for the week — make sure you cook enough for leftovers — you’re more likely to eat healthy and save money at the store. When you stick to a list, you’ll be less likely to impulsively toss those unhealthy potato chips in your cart.
- Shopping on an empty stomach. This is a no-brainer, but it’s not just the grocery store you should avoid when your tummy is growling — it’s any store. When your blood glucose levels are low, your long-term budgeting and decision-making skills are compromised, according to market research. That’s when you are more likely to buy a tub of Rocky Road ice cream or make an impulse decision to put an expensive pair of shoes on your credit card.
Bonus tip: Some grocery stores will give you discounts if you bring your own bags. Even if your store doesn’t do this, bringing your own bags is great for the environment. You can find a set of four totes from L.L. Bean for $20.95 that comes in varying sizes. Stores including Whole Foods, Forever 21 and Shopperschoice.com have grocery totes for cheap, too.
Want to save even more on your next grocery store trip? Click here for free grocery coupons from ShopAtHome.com.
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