Rome wasn't built in a day, and those abs that are "made in the kitchen" don't appear after one meal. If your goal is weight loss, you'll need to give your grocery list an overhaul and start shopping strategically. One day at a time, meal after meal — with the right foods at home, you can make big changes.
Our tips will help you be more thoughtful and efficient at the market — and avoid any "oops, how did that get in there?!" moments with a tub or two of Ben & Jerry's (we've all been there, it's OK). These guiding principles will help you even if you're not trying to lose weight — they're just good rules of thumb to keep in mind!
- Shop the perimeter. The perimeter method means sticking (mostly) to the foods along the walls of the grocery store — fresh produce; meats, poultry, and seafood; dairy and eggs. You'll also find at some markets that there are fresh-pressed juices! You know what you're avoiding by only shopping the outer rim of your local market? Ice cream. Processed foods. Chips. Soft drink. All that stuff you don't want! Pro tip: duck into the grains aisle for a hot second, grab some quinoa, brown rice, beans, or oats, and RUN FOR YOUR LIFE.
- NEVER shop hungry. You know this. We know this. But somehow, it totally still happens. Your hunger can absolutely take over your brain and dictate your decisions, so don't let the hunger pangs dictate what goes in your cart and eventually into your pantry . . . and then belly.
- Get the right staples. Make a list of the healthy dry goods that you should always have in your pantry and tailor your grocery list accordingly depending on what's low and in need of a refill. Need a little help on where to start? We've got a list of healthy pantry staples ready for you to print.
- Make a list. Going into a grocery store aimlessly is like giving a presentation at work and not even knowing the topic (OK, it was a rough metaphor, but you get it). Your grocery list is your plan of attack — your strategy. You need to have that game plan, especially if you're new at this. Plan what meals you're going to make for the week. Evaluate what ingredients you already have and what you need. Craft your list based on your needs, and then get ready to make that grocery store your b*tch.
- Choose the right packaged foods. Packaged foods are typically a no-go — unless it's something like pre-cut produce. Obviously you want to steer clear of processed foods and junk, but sometimes markets offer pre-chopped fresh veggies and fruits as well as lighter packaged meals for on-the-go eating. Read the labels, be choosy, and decide what will help save you time while maintaining your nutrition goals (this is a lot easier to decide on if you are NOT hungry, so don't skip tip number two!)
- Choose the right stores. When you can, try to shop at natural and local markets that offer premium produce, organic ingredients, and grass-fed and pasture-raised animal products. This will guarantee that you're giving your body the highest-quality fuel for your weight-loss journey.