Tips and Tricks for Grocery Shopping
By Amelia Dunnigan
One of the most important ways to set yourself up for a long happy life is by taking care of your body and what you put into it. The food that we choose to consume affects more than just the number on the scale. Food plays a huge role in both our mental and physical state of being. As college students, it often gets hard to prioritize nutrition because cooking healthy meals at home for every meal can be time consuming and expensive. So often, it is easiest to go for the food choices that are fast and cheap. Unfortunately, the fast and cheap foods tend to be the ones that are of least nutritional value. Everything in moderation, of course, but the food habits that we form as young adults will follow us into our future adult lives, so it is important to be conscious of the quality of food that goes into our bodies.
The process of eating begins at the grocery store. Stores are set up in a strategic way to pull the shopper’s attention to the most expensive items. This includes the bright displays of fresh fruits and vegetables. While it is great to stock up on your fruits and veggies, buying fresh produce can be expensive. Also, there is a chance of it going bad within a few days if it is not eaten fast enough. Who wants to waste money doing that? A tip to save money when buying fresh produce is to learn how to shop seasonally. What does it mean when a food is “in season”? It means that the food was harvested right now at a place not too far from where you are shopping. Learning what foods are in season when you go shopping is important because these are the foods that will be the cheapest and of the best quality. They will be cheaper and more nutritionally dense because they will not have been harvested out of state and shipped miles and miles to the local grocery store. The less time that the food spends in transit, the more nutritional value they will have because it will not spend days sitting in the back of a dark truck. If you want to buy a fruit or vegetable that is not in season, consider buying it frozen. Frozen fruits and vegetables are picked and packaged at peak freshness, so no nutrients will be lost. A few of the fruits and vegetables that are in season in October are apples, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, grapes, pears, and sweat potato.
When shopping, it is important to go into the store with a plan. Write out specific meals you would like to make throughout the week to avoid buying a bunch of random ingredients that do not really form a full meal. Ideally, if you split your plate into sections for each food group, your plate for each meal should look like this: half of the plate fruits and vegetables, a quarter of it grains (preferably whole grains such as rice or whole grain bread), and the other quarter of it should be protein. This will ensure that you get a variety of different foods to deliver all the nutrients you need for a happy body and mind. Taking a little extra time to be intentional with your grocery list will make it easier to come home and cook the meals you planned out previously. To save time, it would be a good idea to make multiple of the meals at once and then save them in the fridge to eat throughout the week.
Learning how to make healthy food choices can be difficult at first, but practice makes perfect and the positive impact that healthy eating can have on not only your body, but your mind also, is worth it. Spending a little extra time and intention towards the foods you put into your body can make all the difference in how you feel. Learning how to grocery shop is one of the first steppingstones towards taking control of your health. Healthy food choices, plus daily exercise (whether it be a walk, the gym, or yoga) is the best recipe for success.