Grocery Shopping 101


    Whether you love it or hate it, grocery shopping is something everyone has to do. Nowadays there are apps and services where someone can grocery shop for you, but still it is a task we have to think about and plan for! I personally love grocery shopping. I find it therapeutic, inspiring, and I love discovering new products. Today on the blog I want to share some tips and tricks that will hopefully make grocery shopping easier and more enjoyable for you!

Be Prepared

Step one is to plan for your grocery store run before you go. This is a two step process that involves making a meal plan for the week, and making a grocery list to match! This will ensure that you are prepared to take on the store, and you will be less likely to aimlessly wander around or buy things that you just don't need. Making a weekly meal plan will also eliminate that dreaded "what are we having for dinner?" question. Once you have your meals for the week planned, take a few minutes to check what you have in your refrigerator and pantry to make sure you aren't buying things you already have! If you really want to set yourself up for success, try picturing the layout of your grocery store and make your list following the path you take as you walk through the store. By doing this you will be able to shop more efficiently and not be going back and forth as you shop!

Take Advantage of Sales/Stock up

Every so often, you should take advantage of store sales and stock up on non-perishable items that you may use often in your cooking. You don't need to do this every time you shop, but it is nice to build a bit of a stash at home so when you are grocery shopping it isn't always a big "to-do." Another thing to consider is joining your grocery store's loyalty program. Stores often have additional deals for their members such as buy one get one free, or buy 2 items for the price of one, so this is a great way to save money here and there!

Utilize the Freezer

Did you know that fruits and vegetables are harvested at their peak ripeness and then frozen? For whatever reason, I think a lot of people are under the assumption that fresh fruits and vegetables are healthier or more nutritious than their frozen counterparts, but that is not the case! Of course there is certain produce that just tastes better when its fresh or might be more suitable for a recipe, but utilizing frozen produce is a great option. Frozen produce can also be more affordable in the long run, because the products will last longer, and it can be a more cost effective way to buy fruits or vegetables that aren't currently in season. 

Hack: Whether it be for flavor or garnish,  a lot of recipes call for herbs, but only a small amount- so you use what you need and then the rest just wilt away! Instead of using these fresh herbs, turn to the freezer section instead! Stores such as Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and large chain grocery stores sell little packages of frozen herbs. If you are unable to find these in your local store, go ahead and buy the fresh option and instead of just letting it sit on your counter or in your fridge, chop it up and store in your freezer to use for future recipes! 

Store Brand vs Name Brand

Another common misconception when grocery shopping is that the name brand product is superior to a store brand, but more often than not the store brand is just as good as the name brand. 

Here is an example for you:


Both cans of black beans can be found at Whole Foods. Both are 15 oz cans and both are organic. Yet one is $2.69 and one is $1.09! Although $1.60 might not seem like a big difference, these savings do add up over time and you can save money by shopping the store label. The reasoning behind these differences in prices is typically due to the name brand's research and development, advertising costs, and manufacturing/distribution and has nothing to do with better quality or flavor.  Store brands are able to cut out the "middle man", and therefore save money which then saves the consumer money. 
Next time you are grocery shopping, I challenge you to compare a name brand item vs the store's private label. Are the ingredients the same? Is the quantity the same? Does the price difference surprise you? A lot of us tend to gravitate towards familiar brands and labels, and some products just can't be beat! I just wanted to include this section to inform you that the quality between the two labels is often comparable, and that you can save money here and there by choosing the store brand.
Quick Tips
-Try to shop the perimeter of the store as much as possible. This is where you will find more whole foods, and less processed foods.
--Shop seasonal when you can! A quick Google or Pinterest search will educate you on what fruits and vegetables are in season depending on the month or time of year!
-Avoid gimmicks and overly marketed "health" products. A good example of this is something like a "100 calorie" pack. Instead of buying these prepackaged and overpriced processed snacks, try stocking up on things like raw nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit, or vegetables and making your own snack bags with whole foods. Worry less about the calories, and more about eating foods that will fuel you.
-Be sure to read nutrition labels if you have allergies or are sensitive to certain foods! I will be making a dedicated blog post about this soon, but the main tip for now is that the top 8 allergens are in BOLD lettering, and also listed at the bottom of the label if the food contains any of them.

-Never shop hungry 😆 it's a dangerous combination!

To wrap up this blog post, I am going to share a few items I consider "staples" for your kitchen! I have quite a few blog posts dedicated to some pantry staples if you want to go back and read those.

-leafy greens
-"grab and go" fruits like bananas, apples, pears

Meat/Deli (Note: I don't eat meat, but these are what I would recommend!)
-High quality/lean meats such as chicken or turkey
-Eggs, I didn't really know where to include eggs so here they are!
-Seafood such as salmon, shrimp, or even sardines (I know, I know)
-Greek yogurt (or any yogurt that is low in sugar and high in protein)
-Almond milk with as few ingredients as possible. I know almond milk is dairy FREE but this is my blog and I am including it here! Organic/high quality milk is also an option.
-Cheese, again of high quality and not the slimy processed cheese.

-Beans of all varieties
-Diced or pureed tomatoes
-Coconut milk

-Pasta made with whole grains

-Fruits, my favorite is blueberries or raspberries
-Vegetables like spinach, green beans, or mixed veggies
-Rolled oats
-Peanut butter
Wow. I think that is it! What is a tip you follow, that I missed? Or a staple you always pick up? Let me know!! One last thing, if you aren't following me on Facebook or Instagram yet, I would love if you'd join my little community. I post a lot of meals, tips, and encouragement on both platforms! @popnourish 
Hope you are all happy and staying healthy!!





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