In recent years there has been a major shift in our focus to look more carefully at the food we put in our bodies. We are checking labels, eating better, and paying attention to how our food is produced. Despite our best efforts we still remain a country plagued by obesity. There are a lot of factors that contribute to a healthy lifestyle, but is it possible that the way you navigate the grocery store is having a negative impact? Everyone has their way to grocery shopping. Do you go up and down every aisle? only buy what’s on your list? or another habit? Well I’m going to suggest a way to navigate the store that will save you time and your waist line.
The business of grocery stores is a science. Our habits and tendancies when shopping have been studied and analyzed for years. The main goal of any business is to increase profits, and grocery stores are a business. The best way for a grocery store to increase profits is to reduce labor and reduce waste. The most labor intensive part of a grocery store and the department most prone to waste is the produce department. The produce department includes: fruits, vegetables, bakery, meat, and dairy. In order for these products to be delivered fresh, there is added expense, and to maintain quality and standards there is added labor. Processed foods don’t have these added expenses. It is much easier to ship, stock, and monitor a product that has a long shelf life. In addition, these products tend to have an addictive quality to them that fresh produce doesn’t have. Processed foods are loaded with sugars and chemicals that tell our brain we aren’t full and we need to eat more. If you want to read more about this go here: Food Addiction or High Fructose Corn Syrup. That means that grocery stores have an incentive to drive you to buy more processed foods. The way the store is set up you have to walk by all the processed foods to get from fruits and veggies to the eggs, and they know that will remind you how you love your chips when you’re watching TV or how it would be so much easier to just get a frozen meal.
The point I’m trying to make isn’t a lecture on eating healthy it’s a small, simple change you can make today to save your health. If you shop from a list or just peruse, start to only shop the outside of the store. That means you only go along the outer walls, which is where the fresh produce is. You don’t go down any of the center aisles that are just full of junk food. Doing this and only this, you will begin to eat healthier. You will cook more. You can avoid the impulse buys and your shopping trips will be faster.
There are a lot of articles out there that have compared the cost per calorie of processed foods versus fresh foods, and it is true those studies have found that processed food is less expensive when compared like this. Those studies didn’t take into account the other costs associated with eating processed foods. If you are like me, I used to go up and down every aisle and bought a lot of fresh produce and a lot of processed foods. I had every intention of eating healthy, but when I got home late from work I’d gravitate to the processed foods. At the end of the week I would end up throwing out the fresh veggies and chicken I had purchased because they had rotted in the refrigerator. Even worse, I had gotten into a cycle of eating convenience foods. Since, I’ve made the switch to only shopping the outside of the store, I have a lot less waste. I spend less each week at the grocery store too. It’s because I’m buying what I’m going to eat that week. I’m not filling my cart with a bunch of food that may never get eaten, because of an impulse buy. When I get home I have the choice of healthy foods or to go hungry, and you know what I’ve discovered? It doesn’t take me any longer to eat healthy than it did to pop something in the microwave. I’ve learned to get creative with what I have available, and it’s fun! I have a more varied diet and I feel better. Everytime I shop I get my core foods: kale, onions, cucumber, tomatos, almonds, banana, etc. and then I always try to rotate something different in. Maybe something I’ve never cooked with before. It has been a great experience, and I can’t really put a price on the way I feel, my improved health, and the creativity I’ve brought back into my life.