The COVID-19 pandemic has left us all in fear, especially those who are elderly or have pre-existing conditions. Knowing that we fit this demographic adds an extra layer of stress to this difficult time. We are all doing our best to social distance and stay at home as often as possible.
Heading to the grocery store is, unfortunately, something most of us will have to do and for a lot of us, that causes anxiety. If you are lucky enough to have a friend, spouse or caregiver go for you then consider yourself very lucky. The rest of us will have to take the proper precautions (do not touch your face and sanitize your hands before getting back in car) and brave the storm.
It is more important than ever to make our grocery trips as quick and efficient as possible. This means paying attention to the price, the inventory and making the best (and quickest) decisions for both our family and our own health.
Here are 10 ways to make grocery shopping quick and healthy:
1. Prepare Ahead of Time
Before you think about heading to the grocery store, make sure you make a list. Try to list them in order of how you navigate the store so this way you don’t miss anything the first time around. Also, make sure to check the store’s weekly circular, gather your current coupons and plan out your menu for the week, being as creative as you can, using those items.
2. Look High and Low
Supermarkets use a great deal of consumer psychology and marketing tactics to get you to purchase the items they want. Stores intentionally place foods that are higher in price, processed and sugar-laden at eye level. Make sure you don’t fall victim to their ploys!
3. Shop the Perimeter
Grocery stores follow the same layout and place their produce, meats and freezer foods on the periphery of the store. If you dedicate most of your time shopping here, you are likely to end up with healthy choices, such as fruits and vegetables, an assortment of protein, and dairy products that have plenty of low-carb options. The center aisles tend to contain more of the processed foods so just go down the aisles you need and stick to your list.
4. Check Those Labels
Right now, it may be hard to find some of your favorite foods. Before deciding on bringing home a new item, you may want to take a look at the nutritional label. Here is what you should focus on. First, confirm the serving size before reading on. You want to make sure you know if the information pertains to one serving or the entire amount. Next, make sure there is an adequate amount of protein and fiber and not too much sugar. And finally, check the ingredients and focus on buying products with the shortest list possible. Those are usually the most natural and healthiest for you. Additionally, try to refrain from buying food high in added sugars such as high fructose corn syrup, which has been linked to obesity and diabetes.
5. Give the Freezer Section a Chance
Right now our focus is buying food that can last a while. Frozen fruit and vegetables, depending on type, can last up to up to a year and be a side dish to any meal. They can also be turned into a delicious protein smoothie that even your children might like. The freezer section also boasts new options like cauliflower crusted pizza and protein waffles.
6. Invest in Produce that Lasts
I am pretty particular when it comes to buying produce and so are my kids. Make sure to grab a few ripe bananas along with some green ones so they are ready when you are. You can also do the same with avocados, tomatoes, and other unripe produce. Also, invest your money in fruits and vegetables that have a longer shelf life like potatoes, garlic, onions, and apples to name a few!
7. Choose Plain Versus Flavored Whenever Possible
There is a great assortment of products these days that it is often difficult to find something plain. When searching for yogurts, opt for the Greek full-fat and non-flavored options. You can easily add your own sweetener, fruit or nuts (or why not some dark chocolate) to make it a more appetizing. Also, when shopping for nuts, milk, and bread, keep it basic. This will help you avoid unnecessary sugar and calories.
8. Go Off-Peak
The best way to get in and out of the grocery store is going at non-peak hours. Check your local grocery store and see what time they open in the morning, this may be different than their usual operating hours. Some grocery stores open as early as 7 a.m. and allow seniors and people with preexisting conditions to shop before the crowds. Not only will you feel safer, but you will have the chance to get all the fresh foods that haven’t been laying out all day.
9. Consider Self-Checkout
I only recommend this to the pros! If you are comfortable with handling self-checkout on your own, this is a great way to avoid additional contact with others and avoid long lines. However, if this is something you haven’t done before, it can work against you if you need to call for assistance.
10. Look into Curbside and Delivery Options
Many large chain stores like Target and Walmart are offering call-ahead ordering and pickup. Many of these stores are also doing curbside. Also, check your local privately-owned grocers who are sure to be extra accommodating to their clients. This way is by far the safest if you have the luxury of such a service and can afford any additional costs.
Also, please remember to be extra gracious to the grocery store staff. Being on the front lines is something I am sure none of them ever expected, yet they show up every day so that we have food to put on our tables. A smile goes a long way right now and can help all of our mental well-being. These employees are putting themselves at risk for the greater good and for that we should all be very thankful!
Do you have any tips to make grocery shopping as quick and healthy as possible? Share and comment below!