Shop Smart, Eat Right: 6 Tips for Your Next Grocery Trip

One of the keys to eating healthier is simply being more mindful of what we buy at the grocery store. For better health and overall well-being, follow these simple tips on your next trip to the grocery store.

1. Focus on what’s in season.
While there are certain staples available year-round, some ingredients (like produce) are their most delicious during particular seasons. Consider the experience of eating a locally-grown tomato as opposed to one flown in from somewhere else in the world; you’ll immediately recognize the difference between one that is ripe and flavorful from one that is soft and lifeless. Cook with the seasons (rather than against them), to ensure that you’re getting all the nutrients you need and not turning to junk food because the fresh food “just doesn’t taste right.” Familiarizing yourself with your local farmers’ markets can be a great start.

2. Buy in bulk when possible.
In almost every grocery store, you pay a premium for the cardboard boxes or paper bags in which your food is prepackaged. This goes for rice, oats, flour, spices, and countless other items that are marked up. Stores that sell bulk foods are your friend. Not only will you be producing less garbage, but you’ll save money on staples—money that can be put towards seasonal foods.

3. Buy fresh.
Despite being convenient, frozen foods are almost never good for you. They’re chock full of preservatives, often contain too much sodium, and they produce more garbage. They’re also not particularly flavorful. Choosing to make fresh, simple meals instead of eating a frozen meal is better for your health (and more conducive to weight loss.) If this sounds daunting, know that it’s never too late to learn how to cook.

4. Don’t be swayed by sales.
I’ve been to a handful of grocery stores that have consistently run the same “special” : “buy two candy bars, get three free,” for example. Though it’s obviously quite tempting to buy five candy bars (or bags for less than $2), you don’t need those 1,400 empty calories hanging around (or on) you. Be a selective shopper, and don’t use the fact that something’s available at an absurdly low price as an excuse to buy it if you otherwise wouldn’t.

5. Read ingredient labels.
There are several foods that, while they seem healthy (“enriched” pastas and certain fruit snacks for example), are actually laden with pesticides, preservatives, gelatin, and sugar. Look at ingredient and nutrition facts, and do a little bit of research; find out what chemicals are going into your food to ensure that you’re going to meet your personal health and weight loss goals.

6. Know what you’re buying before you go.
Make a weekly food plan—list what you’re planning to cook for the week—and stick to it. When you go shopping, deviate from it as little as you can. You’ll find yourself saving money and feeling better within a few weeks.

Gerald Arnolds is a guest blogger for An Apple a Day and a writer on earning your nursing degree online for the Guide to Health Education.
About The Shopping Mom


  1. In tip #3, are your referring to frozen convenience foods? I’ve always heard that frozen vegetables are best unless you buy locally.

    • Tara V., TheFabShoppingMom says:

      Fresh veggies and fruits are always best when possible. They do not contain the preservatives found in frozen or canned foods.

      • I agree that most canned/processed foods are going probably going to have at least some preservatives. However, I just looked at my bag of frozen Birdseye broccoli, and all it has listed under ingredients is broccoli. What I’ve read is that frozen vegetables are usually quick-frozen as they ripen. Unless, fresh fruit/vegetables are purchased locally, they may travel some distance/time to reach you and may be waxed or have some other process done to make it possible for them to be transported. Not trying to be argumentative–just wanted to put another perspective out there. 🙂