How to grocery shop for health (while saving 80% of time)

Got groceries?  if not, then today’s post will help you on your next grocery shopping trip 🙂

We all know that eating healthy food is a big part of reducing inflammation and staying healthy. 

I decided to create this post to make this process as easy as possible so you can easily choose healthy options as fast and as efficiently as possible

Let me ask you this: How much time do you spend grocery shopping every week? 30 minutes, an hour or maybe two hours a week?

I know people who dedicate a whole afternoon to their grocery shopping and spend their whole day running from one place to another; grabbing bread form store A and milk from store B because it’s on sale and they can save a bit.

Does that sound like you?  I used to do the exact same thing, I would even do it every day so I can check different stores each day and see where I can save more.

Now, I know that many people really struggle financially, and look to save on food.  Which is totally understandable; yet, today I really want to show you that going from one store to another will actually cost you more.

I will show you how you can save money by shopping at one store, and also how to cut your time by 80 %.

It usually takes me 15 minutes to do my grocery shopping every single time. I zip in and out by following the system I will share with you today.

Let’s get started with my step by step system: Plan, schedule, get it done (PSG) 😉

Smart grocery shopping starts with Planning.

Many of us go grocery shopping with the same mindset as going to a mall or to window shop; wandering from one aisle to the next, looking at every shelf to see if there is something we may want to buy.

A lot of the time, we buy all this stuff that end up left unused and goes badly.

How many times did you get rid of things like expired sauces, or dressings that go bad in the fridge after a few days?

At least for me, unless I plan on making a specific recipe, I almost never ended up using that one product I bought just because I was curious about. I might have opened it to see how it tastes, but after that, I would store it up for ages.

My latest experience was with some kind of cheese substitute. I thought it wouldn’t hurt to try it out. I opened it, wasn’t too crazy about it and then left it in my fridge to grow old.
Take action:

  • Whether you meal plan or not, it is important to take some time to write down the grocery items you need on a daily basis.
  • Let’s call the grocery items that make the basis of your diet: Eggs, bread, milk, vegetables, chicken, beef, fish.. etc your Macro-items.
  • Now write down the supplementary things that you use, but are not necessary (you can live without them): trail mix snacks, protein bars, sauces, dressings, spices, healthy oils, coffee etc. Let’s call these you micro-items.
  • Now, if you meal plan, it will come in handy. Once you have your recipes planned in advice, all you need to do is write down all the ingredients you will need for those recipes. simple.

 Bonus resources for you:
I am old school, so I use a piece of paper. If you are into apps, then I got some cool grocery shopping apps for you, to create your lists. 

  • (FREE)
  • Anylist – lets you create grocery lists and even share recipes.
  • Wunderlist.

Schedule your smart grocery shopping trip

Try to avoid the weekends and Monday evenings.

I don’t know about you, but every time I go to the store on these days, I get stuck in the checkout lanes. I usually go on Friday evenings when everyone is everywhere but grocery shopping.  I make a quick trip around 6 pm and I always find the store less busy.

Any weekday evening should work in general. You just have to pick a day, during the week (not Monday), and go in the evening. Remember that this should take no longer than 15 min if you follow the system.

 Stick to one store

Have you ever walked into a brand new store and felt completely lost? going in rounds to find one thing.
Pick the main store and a secondary store (where you can have as an alternate in case the main store is closed for holidays or other reasons).

By doing this, you will familiarize yourself more with that one particular store and you will know exactly where everything is.

You will save a lot of time grocery shopping if you know exactly where to get your stuff quickly. Make sure the grocery store you pick is not too expensive, is convenient and that you know has a large variety of groceries.

Again, don’t make the mistake of driving from one store to the next to save a couple of dollars on an item. You will end up wasting money on gas, and on time trying to find a parking spot, and walking around to find your item.

Grocery store time-saving tips

Now, you get to the store, you have your list ready and you know where everything is. Do not get distracted by the fluff you see when you first enter. Stores tend to put a lot of items around the front doors, and also checkouts lanes to get you to buy more stuff.

1. Start by walking along the perimeter of the store.
Notice that most of the fresh produce and healthier items are not in aisles. Stay outside the aisles and get your macro items from there (because that is probably where you will find them).

Your micro items are more likely to be packed in the aisles so you will have to go in quickly get what you need and get out. As you know, the signs will help you find the aisle you need.

If you make the mistake of going aisle by aisle you will easily be distracted by products you don’t need, and these can be unhealthy for you (high sugar cereals, chips, artificial drinks, high sugar baking mixes, and the list goes on).

I usually make 3 aisles stops to get the following items: tea, coffee, organic honey, almond butter, peanut butter, brown rice, beans, raw nuts, spices, coconut and olive oil and sometimes organic brown rice cakes.
And because I always buy them from the same place, I know exactly where they are, and even where the bands I love are located. I don’t even have to think.

 2. Effectively read nutritional labels in 15 seconds or less.

Okay, now say you did get distracted by something you would like to try out, it happens to me too and is completely normal.  Follow these steps to make sure you pick the right product for your fitness and health goals.

This process takes me seconds 🙂 I will go through it in detail.

Step 1:

  • Ignore everything on the front of the package (that is for marketing purposes), jump to the ingredients list (not the nutritional box, that for Step 2).
  • Read the ingredients list: how many ingredients are there?  less is usually better, but I do buy some high-quality products that have a lot of good ingredients in them.  So ask yourself this: would you easily be able to find those ingredients at a store?
  • Can you pronounce them? or do they all look like a bunch of chemical formulas to you?

Go through the above questions in your head quickly and you will start becoming more aware of the products you pick, and if they are a good choice for your body, fitness and health goals.

Maybe it is a bag of chips or highly processed food that will not serve your body well.

If all looks good, proceed to step 2.

Step 2

Now that you gave yourself the green light on the ingredients part, check the nutritional label: look for these main things:

  • Check the fats (trans fat, saturated and unsaturated fats). You will want to stay away from trans fats. Usually, processed food will have higher amounts of trans fats.
  • Products that are like coconut oil would have high saturated fats but those are good for you. Rule of thumb: if it’s packaged and has high saturated fats, then probably not a good choice.
  • Produce such as avocados also have high fats, mainly from unsaturated fats and these are amazing for you. So don’t be afraid to include fats into your diet, as long as they are from a natural source.
  • Check the Sugar: a high carb number doesn’t necessarily mean it is bad for you. Carbs can include fibers.   Look at the sugar content instead. I always aim at products 9g of sugar or less per serving.
  • Check for protein – always good to have some protein in your snacks. I love raw, mixed nuts because I get good fat, carbs and protein balance.

Quickly Skim through the sodium amounts, fibers, and vitamins. The latter are things I do not focus on too much when buying packaged food. You want to get your fiber and vitamins and minerals from real food, and your supplements.

Step 3

I finally ask myself this question: How is this going to benefit my body? in what way will my body get value from this product?

Congratulations! you now know how to read a product description properly 🙂

If I feel good about the product, I proceed at looking at other details like the price per weight and if the box is big enough to last me a week of snacks 😉

Believe me, this whole process won’t take more than a few seconds. I tried to describe it in detail for you, but in real life, It will be a quick mental exercise. The more you do it, the more you will get better at it.

Once you start doing this every time, you will gain momentum and you will start quickly identifying “good” and “not so good” products for you. You will then start compiling a list of all the items that fit your fitness goals and you will stick to them in the future, which will make you save even more money and time.

If you usually check the price first. You can start by doing that, and then proceed to step 1 and move through the steps.

I do this sometimes, yet after spending time comparing prices and deciding on a cheaper product I realize in the end, that it is not really a healthier choice and I put it back. I find that comparing prices first, takes more time than checking the ingredients and label.

I always start with the most time efficient task.

By the time you are done your grocery shopping, all you will need to do is to pay and leave. If you are efficient at the store (it takes me usually 10 – 15 minutes on a weekday), I choose the self-checkout, or an empty checkout lane and DONE.

I believe you will cut your time at least by half following this process. If you can spend an hour grocery shopping, instead of a whole afternoon then that is a BIG improvement, don’t you think??

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Did you find this post useful, and what ways do you personally implement to save time at the grocery store. Share them in the comments area below!

Got your groceries, what’s next?

Check out my post, how to meal plan like a pro to save time on that too.