Nutrition | POSTED September 13, 2021

How To Food Shop Smarter (And Save Money)

Whether you’re trawling through the aisles of your local supermarket trying to figure out what to have for dinner or you’re knee-deep in the weekly online specials on your laptop, food shopping can be an expensive and confusing exercise. And with the huge range of food on offer, it’s easy to reach for the most convenient option… processed food. However, not only is it expensive, but a diet predominately made of processed foods will leave you deprived of a many essential nutrients. Instead, there’s a smarter way to shop that will save you time, money and help you keep on top of your fitness goals. Want to know how to food shop smarter? Here’s my five-step plan to a healthier shopping trolley:

Step 1: Be prepared

The best way to avoid panic food buying is to plan, plan, plan. Before you even step foot in a supermarket, spend some time creating a weekly meal (and snack) plan. It may take a while but trust me, it will save you time and money, and will help keep you healthier in the long run. It helps to break down your breakfast, lunch, and dinner options for the week, as well as morning and afternoon snacks, then you can create your shopping list accordingly. That way, you know exactly what to buy, and you’ve also avoided all the decision-making fatigue for the next week. Studies even show that meal planning can result in a healthier diet [1] and can save you money [2]. It’s a win-win situation. If you don’t have time to create a full meal plan, just having a detailed shopping list can help you avoid impulse buys [3], like that family pack of Caramello chocolate… 

Grocery List

Step 2: Understand food labels

With food packaging displaying words like “low-fat”, “no-fat”, “salt reduced” and “organic”, it can be challenging to know the best options to put in your trolley. Something that looks healthy, just because it has green packaging and says “all- natural”, can actually have more sugar in it than a box of coco puffs. The secret is all in the nutritional content. Although it may look complicated, taking the time to read and understand nutritional labels can help you identify and choose which option is healthiest [4]. Food labels can also help you avoid nasty surprises, like saturated fat, added salt and sugar. And remember, just because something is labelled “vegan”, “gluten free” and “dairy free”, doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Check out the label and see for yourself whether it’s worth a place in your trolley.

Food Labels

Step 3: Consider bulk buying

If you have the room in your cupboards, bulk buying can help save you money [5], reduce food waste and lessen your environmental impact. And not only that, but you’ll always have healthy options on hand for a meal or quick snack. Food such as brown rice, wholemeal pasta, canned beans, and legumes are good staples. Tins of tuna and salmon, dried fruit, and nuts are also good to throw in the trolley. My tip? Nut butter keeps really well for a long time and is delicious. However, with all of these items, make sure you store them well to avoid creating a colony of weevils or a line of ants in your kitchen. There’s no use bulk buying if you have to throw it all out before you even cook it.

Rice, Pasta and Lentils in Jars

Step 4: Buy fresh and frozen

When it comes to fruit and vegetables, fresh can be best (especially when it’s the right season). However, frozen foods have come a long way over the past few years. In fact, studies show frozen fruit and veggies are very efficient in retaining their nutritional content and can be healthier than five-day old fresh fruit kept in the fridge [6]. For fresh fruit, try visiting your local fruit and veggie market for in-season produce. At the moment watermelons, grapes, tomatoes, capsicums, and zucchinis are good choices. Not only will they taste better, but they’ll also be cheaper. And for frozen vegetables, stock up on quality brands that are snap frozen; peas, carrots, spinach, berries, and smoothie fruits are all smart options.

Open Fridge

Step 5: Get professional advice

To become an expert on what to add to your weekly shop, consider enlisting the help of a nutritionist. Here at Ivy Training, all of our personal trainers are qualified in the field of nutrition and can provide tailored nutritional advice just for you. We understand what your body needs to become healthier and fitter and can develop strategies to help you reach your goals (in the shopping aisles and at the gym). As nutrition is such an integral part of becoming healthier and fitter, it’ll save you time and money (and help you reach your goals faster) to spend a little time planning the right meals for you. 

Professional advice

Resources

  1.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5288891/
  2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/priceonomics/2018/07/10/heres-how-much-money-do-you-save-by-cooking-at-home/?sh=7c9f4a0a35e5
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4430323/
  4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0195666317309923
  5. https://www.news.com.au/finance/money/costs/bulk-buying-can-halve-your-costs-and-not-just-at-supermarkets/newsstory/8c42d4780c26e4e453680caabe770396
  6. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0889157517300418