Other than my utility bills and mortgage, grocery shopping is where most of my money is spent. Because I’m focused on both financial and physical fitness, I’m constantly thinking of ways to win in both areas. The grocery store is certainly the place where the magic happens.
Being a savvy shopper can benefit my body as well as my wallet. “HOW I EAT, WHAT I EAT, and WHERE I EAT” really is what brings the financial and physical fitness goals together. If I’m eating out a lot, then I can expect to blow my monetary budget as well as my calorie budget. Hence, the reason why I’m spending more time walking the aisles of my neighborhood grocery stores.
Compare Store Pricing
I have 3 grocery stores that I primarily shop at (Harris Teeter, Food Lion, and Wal-Mart). Each of them offers some convenience for me. Harris Teeter (HT) is closest in proximity. Of the three, HT tends to have higher prices. But we all have that moment when we’re making dinner, and there’s one ingredient that’s missing or you ran out of! Uggh! Yea, that would be the time when I’d run to HT so that I can get along with my day. I only shop there when I need one or two items.
Then there’s Food Lion (FL), which is still fairly close to home (8 minutes driving distance). I shop there weekly because the prices have consistently been lower than HT for the food items that I tend to buy. Sometimes I wonder why this is? Nevertheless, it is a valid observation and I’m going to shop where I find the most savings.
Then, there’s Wal-Mart. There are even greater savings when I shop at Wal-Mart, but the store has the furthest proximity. When I’ve built a list of household items and toiletries that I need, that is when I grocery shop at Wal-Mart. There are certain items that I can get at Wal-Mart for a considerably cheaper price than at FL and HT. For example, almond milk at Wal-Mart is $1.90 but it’s $2.69 at FL (on sale). This is when I’d take advantage and purchase multiple containers to stock up.
There are a few other grocery stores that are located within a fairly decent proximity to my home, but I choose not to shop there because of their pricing, food quality, and/or store appearance. But it’s good to have a variety of options so that you can compare and pick the store(s) that best suits your convenience and wallet. Don’t just go to the one that’s closest. You may be cheated.
Read Food Labels
If your goal is to lose weight (like it is for me), then you’ll want to purchase food that will aid in those efforts. Food labels are a great tool to determine which items to put in my cart and which ones to avoid.
Tips for reading labels:
- Choose whole foods, one ingredient items such as fruits, veggies, and some meats. No food labels required. Picking the foods in their purest forms is easy and healthier. To avoid wasting produce, I buy frozen fruits and vegetables. And the frozen fruits are used for smoothies.
- Examine the calories, sugar, sodium, fat, protein, and fiber content. Go for items that tend to be less in sugar, fats, and sodium and high in fiber and protein.
- Avoid items with “trans fat” (the unhealthy fat). Trans fat increases the risk of heart disease. An alias for trans fat is partially hydrogenated oils. If you see this ingredient listed anywhere on the food label, put it back on the shelf! Although the nutritional label may say trans fat = 0%, still check in the ingredients list. If the amount per serving is less than 0.49% grams or less, then the manufacturer can technically claim 0%.
- Pick whole grain items such as brown rice, quinoa, barley, and oats. Whole grain items contain all three parts of the grain (bran, germ, endosperm). One thing that I’ve learned recently is that “multigrain” items need to be examined further. Multigrain could possibly be a mixture of different refined grains. It could also be a mix of whole grains and refined grains. Checking and comparing the ingredients list helps me to determine which products are best.
Shop The Perimeters
Take a stroll around the store perimeters first to look for healthier choices. You’ll find the items that have been processed the least (or not at all).
Pay Attention To Pricing and Packaging
At first glance, a jar of peanut butter for $3.50 may appear to be cheaper than the one right next to it for $4.00. But be careful to examine the unit price, which is located on pricing labels in a very small font. There could be more peanut butter (weight) in the $4 jar, giving you a better bang for your buck. When I shop meats, I compare the unit price (price per pound), because packaging can be deceiving. Shopping by at prices alone, may not be the most beneficial to your wallet.
As I spend more time in the grocery store (and less time in the Bojangles drive-thru), I try to keep things simple. Simplifying my grocery trip by having a pre-written shopping list, sticking to the same/similar foods, and eating before I arrive. I would definitely have extra (unnecessary) items in the cart, if I arrive hungry. I also make sure to use store coupons (cards) if available. I get positive vibrations when I can see the before and after total before coupons/discounts are applied. I often take a guess at the savings amount, just to see how close I am to the actual savings. I know, sounds corny! LOL. But I actually do this.
Bottom line…..YOU CAN BE A SAVVY SHOPPER, OR you can just throw money in the garbage. Not only that, you can sabotage your weight loss goals in the process. Who has time for that? Not me! Not you! Let’s be intentional when we do our shopping, looking out for our families physical and financial health.