How to avoid buying junk food at the grocery store

Grains in bulk

Image by RahelSharon via Flickr

Okay, everyone knows you should always shop with a list…and stick to it…no impulse purchases.  Plan your meals and snacks for the week, then make sure you buy everything you need for them so you’re not tempted when you have to stop at the store to pick up that jar of cumin that you need.  

Never, ever shop when you’re hungry.  Same goes for when you’re exhausted.  Shopping when you’re either hungry or tired (or even worse, when you’re both)  will cause you to pick up whatever looks good, whether or not it’s good for you. 

Don’t cut out coupons for junk food.  If you have coupons, you’ll be more tempted to buy it because, well…because it’s such a great deal.  And who among us can resist a good deal?

Try a new fruit or veggie every week.  Or a new, healthy recipe.  The more healthy food you have on hand, the less likely you are to reach for the junk.

Buy whole foods…food your grandmother would recognize.  Chances are, if you can’t pronounce the ingredients in a product, it’s not something your grandmother would have eaten.  I do make exceptions to this rule.  My grandma never ate yogurt or soy or Mexican or Italian food…but I think she would have at least been familiar with the ingredients used in them.

Plan to do some cooking.  You know, real meals.  Not stand at the kitchen counter and eat meals, but the sit down at the table with silverware and napkins meals.

Shopping the perimeter of the store is always recommended by experts.  That’s pretty good advice.  Usually your produce, meat, and dairy are on the perimeter of the store.  But the freezer section is also a great place to find some healthy choices..just avert your eyes from the ice cream and pizza when you walk by…quickly walk by.

Do some of your shopping at health food stores where you can purchase a lot of your staples in bulk.  That can save you money and help you avoid temptation by allowing you to make fewer trips to traditional grocery stores.  And these staples are great to have on hand when you decide to create your healthy go-to meals.

And my number one most effective way to avoid buying junk food at the grocery store is to simply not go to the grocery store.  Yes, I’ve discovered that I often go to the grocery store just because it’s Saturday (or whatever day is grocery shopping day for you), not necessarily because I need anything.  I was planning to go to the grocery store today and looked at what I actually needed (nothing).  Then I questioned myself about why I needed to go to the store if I didn’t need anything and wouldn’t need anything for several days.  I realized I was thinking about buying pizza and ice cream, neither of which do I need from a health stand point.  So not going to the grocery store today kept me from buying any kind of junk food at all…and saved me some money on top of that.  Not bad, huh?

What are your tips for avoiding junk food purchases?

 

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