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8 Rules for Healthy Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping is a task that many people are not crazy about, even though it’s one of the most important household tasks out there if you plan on eating well!  Since you can’t rely on fast food and take out for every meal without suffering health issues, you will need to keep fresh groceries in your home, which means you have to shop for them!

This list will provide you with a few “rules” to keep in mind when shopping for your groceries.  They can help make the task easier and allow you to figure out how to make the most out of your shopping trip without overspending, purchasing too much junk food, or buying items that you aren’t sure you can use right away.

  1. Grocery Shop After Eating

This might seem like a strange rule, but did you know that if you go grocery shopping after eating a satisfying meal, you are less likely to make impulse purchases that can add a hefty sum to your grocery bill?  Go shopping after breakfast or lunch, and you can avoid those purchases.  Since food tends to look better if you’re hungry, you are more likely to add things to your cart that aren’t on your grocery list, or things that might not be as healthy (such as junk food).  It’s better to just have a light meal before going out to shop, plus you’ll have extra energy too!

  1. Create a Healthy Grocery List

When you are coming up with a grocery list, make sure that the majority (if not all) the foods on it are healthy  By stocking up on healthy foods, you are more likely to say no to impulse dinners out or junk food binges, especially if you don’t have them in the house.  Create a grocery list based on a few meals for the week, and that way when you go shop, you will be able to stick to your list.  As a bonus, this allows you to focus on only items you need, instead of making purchases that will cost you more money, pantry space, and potentially nutrition.

  1. Skip Processed Foods

When you are doing your grocery shopping, try to keep yourself in the fresh produce area as much as possible, skipping over the cases and shelves lined with processed foods.  As a general rule, you should keep packaged foods to a minimum, and be sure to read the ingredients label before purchasing, making sure to keep the ingredients at five or under.  This way, you can ensure that you are only getting the healthiest foods possible without worrying about too much in the way of processed ingredients, or foods that are just worse off than not.

  1. Read Nutrition Labels

It might go without saying, but reading the nutrition labels on food before purchasing it is always a must.  If a product seems like it has no nutritional properties to it, or is overloaded on sodium, sugar or just a lot of ingredients, it might just be better to skip it altogether.  While reading the nutritional facts label, it’s also important to take a peek at the ingredients labels to make sure you have a great understanding of all of the ingredients that are in the food you are purchasing.

  1. Spend Most of Your Shopping Trip in the Produce Area

Spending most of your grocery shopping trip in the produce area will allow you to skip over the processed snacks area of the grocery store, especially if you aim to purchase berries and other fruits to use as desserts or with breakfast!  You are also more inclined to spend money on fresh produce if it is the first thing you shop for when you’re in the store, and you will have more ability to turn down sweet snacks and items that aren’t as healthy!

  1. Choose Whole Grains

When it comes to rice, pasta, cereals, and breads, it’s always important to say yes to whole grains and stay as far away from processed or nutritionally devoid products as possible.  You get more nutrition from whole grain products, allowing you to feel better about serving them to your family.

  1. Be Mindful of Frozen Food Items

If you are purchasing frozen food items, be sure to keep to frozen meats such as chicken breasts, fruits, and vegetables, and steer clear of sodium loaded frozen dinners, breakfasts, and meals that promise plenty of nutrition but fail to deliver.   Not only are these dishes unhealthy, but they also rely on a high sodium content to keep them tasting fresh for so long.

  1. Stay Away From Soda and Sugary Drinks

If you are going to be purchasing drinks at the grocery store, make sure to stay away from sports drinks and sodas, which contain too much added sugar to be a healthy part of your diet.  If you do choose to purchase fruit juices, make sure they are juices labeled 100% juice.


By following these simple rules each time you go to the grocery store, you are likely to keep to your list and budget with ease.  You will also benefit by reading nutrition and ingredient labels, as you will be able to determine which foods are the healthiest for your lifestyle and family.

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Dr. Candice Seti


California-licensed Clinical Psychologist, Certified Nutrition Coach, and Certified Personal Trainer

Dr. Candice Seti

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