Never shop hungry
Going to the grocery store with only food on your mind will make you end up with a cart full of stuff you probably don’t need. Being hungry will prevent you from thinking clearly so you won’t make the best food choices, and because you want to hurry so you can eat, you will probably miss stuff too.
By choosing to swap your full sugar sodas with diet versions or seltzers, you will be saving hundreds of calories per day. They don’t taste very different so you will eventually get used to the low sugar taste too. Often off brand diet drinks are cheaper.
Write a list
Don’t go shopping blind and without a list. It can make shopping overwhelming and unproductive as you won’t know what ingredients will actually be used that week. You’re also more likely to pick up junk food because you’re walking down every aisle unnecessarily and adding anything to your cart.
Planning specific meals for the week helps you stick to healthier eating. The struggle of weight loss is often deciding what to eat, so by making a plan it’s easier to actually get round to cooking. This also makes grocery shopping a lot easier as you have a set list of ingredients to get.
Don’t do it alone
If you can, run errands like food shopping with others. Whether it be a friend or family member, you’re more likely to stop yourself putting that bag of chips in the cart. This can give you the support you need to stick to your meal plan and makes food shopping more fun.
Buy lots of vegetables
Vegetables are low in calories, which means you can eat a lot of them. Not only are they full of vitamins and nutrients that are good for us, but they can be great for bulking out meals. Add more veggies to your meals to feel fuller but without the extra calories.
Choose lean proteins
It can be hard deciding what meats to buy for the week, but try to get the lean products. Chicken (not breaded), tuna and salmon are great sources of lean protein and healthy fat, and are lower in calories than other meats. You can get frozen fish for cheaper sometimes and it makes great quick dinners.
Look for sodium levels
A lot of prepackaged foods are full of salt, which isn’t great for weight loss. Compare products against each other to get the best low sodium options, especially sauces and canned goods. High sodium foods will make you feel bloated as it holds onto water in the body.
Greek yogurt over flavored yogurt
Flavored yogurts are usually full of sugar and don’t have nearly the same amount of protein as greek yogurt. Greek yogurt, especially the fat free variety, is really good for you and great for weight loss, and can be sweetened and flavored naturally. Try the swap and see the difference.
Look for frozen fruit
Frozen fruit can be a great way to add more nutrients to meals. Fresh fruit is great but it can go bad in a couple of days, so frozen fruit is a great back up for the end of the week. They are great for making breakfast smoothies as well as adding to oatmeal for added vitamins at a lower cost.
Choose one dessert
Instead of completely cutting off all sweets, choose one to enjoy over the week. Having the choice and option of a dessert means you’re less likely to binge, like running out to the gas station at night and buying bags of candy and eating them all at once! It’s about knowing your limits and understanding your cravings.
Grab a rotisserie chicken
This is one the most versatile items you can buy at the grocery store. Pre-cooked chicken makes a great addition to the fridge as it can be cut up and shredded and eaten throughout the week. Add it to salads, pastas or sandwiches to bulk up the protein and avoid overeating on snacks after.
Buy one healthier snack
You can’t suddenly go cold turkey from snacking, so don’t cut them all off. Choose a better option than chips and candies, so you still have something to snack on throughout the day without going insane from cravings. Try popcorn, nuts or protein bars as an alternative.
Try something new
Eating the same thing and meals every week will eventually get boring. This can lead you to fall off the healthy eating plan and potentially end up eating out more or ordering takeout. Try a new protein or recipe to keep you excited about healthy food.
Make some higher fiber swaps
Bread and pasta can be included in a balanced diet, but try swapping to a higher fiber variety. Whole grain bread over white bread has more fiber which will help with digestion as well as keep you fuller for longer. Look for wholewheat pasta swaps too!
Check your peanut butter
Stay away from jars labeled as ‘peanut butter spread’ as those are often made with less than 90% peanuts. Each brand and variety includes different levels of sugar and salt, so read the nutritional labels carefully before you put it in your cart and choose those with less added sugar. In moderation, natural peanut butters can be a great addition to your diet!
Swap the sugary cereal
Yes, it may taste better, but the sugar in everyday cereals is super high. Choose a cereal with less added sugar and more fiber, and top it with your own flavor combinations at home. By choosing a healthier option you can reduce both sugar and calories in the morning, or replace empty calories with filling, natural toppings!
Stock up on healthy snacks
Having healthier options at home takes the guesswork out of it. Stock up on veggies that can be cut up and snacked on easily along with products like hummus and cottage cheese, which make quick and filling snacks. If they’re already in the house, you’re more likely to not go out and buy junk.
Fill up on protein
Protein is your best friend for weight loss. It’s not only great for building muscle at the gym, but it keeps us fuller for way longer than just eating carbs alone. Try to purchase at least 3 kinds of protein when at the store, which could be meat based, plant based or dairy.
Low sugar swaps
There are so many foods you wouldn’t think would have a lot of sugar in, but you need to be sure to read the label beforehand. Tomato ketchup is one of those everyday items that has a ton of hidden sugar added, so make the swap to no added sugar version to make simple reductions in your cart where you can.
Avoid certain aisles
If you’re there with a list, you don’t need to go down that chip aisle. Avoiding certain aisles will take the temptation to just pop something in your cart and can help you save money from mindless shopping. Stick the places you need to be and don’t be led astray by temptation or offers.
Check expiration dates
This one seems obvious, but you need to also remember when you planned to eat certain meals you’ve written on the list. If something is freezable then that’s great but, if it goes bad quickly, make sure you plan to eat that meal early on in the week to avoid wasting food.
Don’t try too many new things at once
Trying new foods is great, but don’t designate one week to do it all in! If you buy lots of new foods and you end up not liking anything you’ve cooked, you’re not going to stick to the rest of the meal plan. Not only will you waste money, you’re more likely to replace that food with takeout or ultra-processed convenience foods.
Look at calories per serving
Counting calories can be boring or daunting but it really does help with weight loss and choosing the right options for you. Certain ‘luxury’ branded items often have more calories in them due to added ingredients like cream or butter, so make sure you’re comparing serving sizes to calories between products to avoid nasty surprises.
Spend most of your budget on produce
Set yourself a weekly budget and make sure the majority of it gets spent on fruit and vegetables. This will prevent you from over spending in other areas like sweets and snacks, and make sure your fridge is nicely stocked with the good stuff and you have enough to bulk up meals.
Buy fruits you like
Don’t buy fruits just because they’re healthy. You need to enjoy what you eat in order to stick to the healthy changes, so buy fruits you know you will enjoy daily. You can’t really make bad decisions when it comes to fresh fruit, so treat yourself to your favorites.
Don’t buy for convenience
Most of the time, pre-packaged convenient foods are full of processed and added ingredients. To keep them shelf stable, they are often full of salt or sugar as a preservative so read the labels carefully when purchasing packaged foods. Try to buy as little convenience food as possible.
Don’t fall for bargains
Most of the time, junk food is the only food that is on sale. This is because they’re easy to shift out of stores and cheaper to produce. Don’t fall for the bargains or low price and grab stuff ‘just because’, because you’ll take it home and regret buying it.
Grab frozen veggies
Frozen vegetables are just as good as fresh, and they can be stored for months. They make great additions to meals that need bulking up in volume or for blending into other meals like soups or stews. You can get big bags for good prices, so stock up.
To make things taste good, it needs to be seasoned. Seasonings can be thrown over any vegetable and suddenly it tastes great and you’ll want to eat them more often. Seasonings don’t add calories, but just be wary of adding too much salt to your food.
Ranch, mayonnaise and caesar dressings are all super high in calories. No one wants to eat dry food, but make some smart choices when it comes to buying condiments. Swap mayo for low fat sour cream, and make your own dips using Greek yogurt and your favorite seasonings mixed in.
Try plant based milk
Dairy milk is fine as part of a balanced diet but, if you’re looking to cut calories here and there, try a plant based milk. Unsweetened almond milk has around 13 calories per 100ml, compared to dairy which has around 50. Shelf safe bottles can often be found in the dry foods sections of grocery stores for a cheaper price.
Check your cheese
Cheese is delicious, but it’s also super high in calories and fat. Try different kinds of cheese that may have less salt or fat added to them. Instead of full fat mozzarella, choose the lighter option which will have 30-40 calories less per serving. This may not seem like a lot, but little changes at every meal add up.
Check things labeled ‘high protein’
Often brands will label their products as high protein as a marketing tactic. Always check the nutritional label on these products because, more times than not, the protein isn’t that high per serving size compared to calories. Save your money and buy genuine protein rich foods.
Buy plain rolled oats
Oatmeal is great for a hearty breakfast, but its benefits come from the oats itself. Don’t buy the pre-prepared oatmeal sachets as, despite the individual packaging making portion control easier, they are often artificially flavored. They are almost always always full of extra sugar too, and can add unnecessary calories to your breakfast.
Plan simple meals
If you’re not the best cook, don’t try to jump straight into making restaurant style meals. If cooking becomes a chore and the ingredients you need are impossible to find, you’re less likely to stick to the healthy changes and could end up ordering takeout instead.
Don’t cut yourself off from all treats, because you’ll be more likely to give up on weight loss. Instead swap desserts you’re used to, with better choices. Ice cream is a great swap, because most grocery stores now offer low calorie, great tasting ice cream pints.
Buy cauliflower pizza bases
Instead of buying a big greasy cheese pizza, make your own at home. Cauliflower makes a delicious pizza base and drops the calories significantly. Add your own fresh toppings, lean meats and have your version of a takeout pizza at home without the guilt and extra calories.
Choose the right frozen meals
You don’t have to cook everything from scratch! Our busy lifestyles make this an often unrealistic aim. Frozen meals can be handy to have in, just make sure you’re choosing the right ones to stock your freezer with. Lower calorie options and low sodium choices make great additions to your cart.
Buy green tea
Green tea has been associated with weight loss due to its appetite suppressing properties and vitamins. It’s affordable to buy in sachets from the grocery store and can be a great replacement for coffee in the morning. It can help with sweet cravings in between meals too when a splash of honey is added.