It’s easy to plan healthy meals, but it can be another story entirely when you walk into the grocery store. Walking down the center aisles, it’s incredibly easy to forget about fresh food and instead be enticed by prepackaged snacks and ready-to-go meals. While these products might seem like a great deal because they’re fast and easy to prepare, they can be incredibly detrimental to our health and our bank accounts. Read on for more information regarding “shopping the perimeter” of the grocery store and how it can help you manage your grocery spending.
Head For the Produce Section First
The very first thing you should do after getting your shopping cart or basket is head to the produce section. This section is almost always located on the perimeter of the grocery store, and heading there first makes it easy for you to load your cart with fresh and healthy items. While in this section, go for unprepared items if possible; whole mushrooms are cheaper than ready sliced mushrooms, and fresh spinach is cheaper than packaged and ready-washed spinach.
Visit the Grocery Store’s Bakery
After loading your cart full of affordable produce, the next section that lines the perimeter of the grocery store is the bakery. Try to buy your bread from the bakery, instead of heading to the middle of the aisle and choosing a mass-produced brand of bread. Fresh bakery bread will not be loaded with preservatives or artificial flavors, making it far healthier for you. Additionally, fresh-baked breads tend to be cheaper than well-known household brands.
Speak With the Butcher
Butchers are always located at the perimeter, and it’s a good idea to speak with him about your meat choices. Not only can the butcher advise you on what cuts of meat are lean and how you can prepare them, but fresh meat is also much more affordable than those ready-cooked chickens or frozen cuts, for example. A ready-cooked Safeway chicken usually costs between $8 and $10, while a fresh chicken will cost about $0.80 per pound. A bit more work for you means more money in your wallet!
Finish Your Trip With Your Dairy Needs
End your grocery trip at the dairy section. Every diet should have some form of dairy in it, so be sure you’re adding milk, cheese or yogurt to your cart. Here, it’s a good idea to compare prices; your go-to brand might be more expensive than you realize.
Always Shop With a Grocery List
Finally, always shop with a grocery list. It’s way easier to avoid temptation and stay on the perimeter of the grocery store when you have a list. Of course, some items require you to go down these aisles, like baking supplies, condiments or coffee. If this is the case, just pick up what you need and don’t browse the other products.
Shopping the perimeter and avoiding the center aisles will benefit your health as well as your wallet. Prepackaged food, microwave dinners and boxes of snacks are high in fat, preservatives and sodium. These are also more expensive than fresh products. The next time you shop, help yourself out and stay on the perimeter of the store.