Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Navigating the Grocery Store

By: Jennifer Ripepi, MD

Navigating the grocery store can be a real chore, especially with children in tow. As a parent who has been in your shoes, I’d like to share some tips that may help you get through the shopping process with more healthful foods and less junk in your cart.

First and foremost, I found that preparation is key to a successful venture. Review the store ads either in print or on-line. If you do your shopping the first 2 or 3 days of when the weekly specials are advertised, you are more likely to find the items that are on sale. Different stores have different days of when prices are in effect so double check what your favorite store offers. This step helps you to work within a budget and you can even begin to plan meals for the week. Cutting coupons and comparing those to the store ads may also help you to save money on the items you need. You can also check out some money saving apps for your phone. A couple that are popular are Ibotta, Checkout 51 and Saving Star.

Make a list! How many times do we finish shopping and forget some important item? Keeping a running list in your kitchen may help. As you empty one of your stock items, then you can add it to the list. Too many times, our list at home (ominously referred to as "The List") begins as soon as I get back from the store. Just another part of being in a family!

Do not go to the store while you are hungry! You WILL buy items that you don’t need just because you are eating with your eyes. Take a bottle of water with you during your shopping trip and sip that as you stroll the aisles.


Understand your store's layout. Most large grocery stores have produce first and around the outside walls are the bakery, deli, meats and seafood, dairy and perhaps the frozen foods. This is where we should spend most of our time. Selecting healthy produce with attention to season, color and freshness will help us to prepare beautiful and vitamin and mineral packed meals. Lean proteins give us the building blocks for growth and repair. Dairy and dairy-equivalents like soy products give us calcium, protein and some Vitamin D for strong bones and muscles (among other things). Frozen foods may be a reasonable alternative if fresh produce is out of season or longer storage is needed. Sometimes these foods are convenient as well, but be aware that the more processed they are, the less control you have over what you are serving to your family. Try to stick to single ingredient foods without added flavorings.

The inside of the store has some aisles a health-conscious family should avoid. Snack foods like chips, pretzels, crackers, candy and cookies and the soft drink sections are huge parts of many stores. These foods rob our health and we really do not need those in our pantries. Feel like you "have to have it"? Get the smallest size available. Or better yet, do without and look at your total at the end of your trip.

The shelves are set up for eye level shopping. Your child sitting buckled into the seat of the cart will see sweetened cereals and the items at the checkout that are there for impulse buying. Plan for letting them know that Choosy would pick something else. Perhaps even talk about being Choosy at the store beforehand. It may save you some tantrums later.

What are your grocery shopping tips? Do you engage your children in the experience and let them help out when picking out produce? Do you discuss what the foods are that they are seeing?


About the Author: I have been a pediatrician for over 25 years. My husband and I have been privileged to raise 4 bright and healthy children. I have tried to gather wisdom from the families I have been blessed to meet during my journey. I believe in practical and flexible parenting to help raise healthy adults. I love to garden, hike, travel and cook and I am looking forward to hearing from Choosy followers.

29 comments :

  1. These are all amazing tips. I find that I often make a list, then leave it at home, and instead of going back to get it, I end up forgetting stuff and spending way more money on junk food. Thanks for sharing <3

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  2. Great info.

    I have found that bringing a list with me is so helpful. When I don't bring one, I've often come home to discover I've forgotten something.

    It does help to know the layout of the store. Each one is different. I usually go to the same one, but I've found that the same company can still have different layouts depending on the location, so it takes a bit more time to navigate through to find what I'm looking for.

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  3. I always try to make a meal plan before I go to the store so that I don't overspend. I try to avoid going with in the aisles I like to standing outside where the food is healthier.

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  4. I always try to make a list before I go, or at least have an idea of what I need. Shopping the outside of the grocery store always helps me avoid the bad stuff.

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  5. I never thought about bringing water with but that's a brilliant idea! I'm going to need to remember that for the next time I go shopping; I always get so darn hungry looking at all the food I can't eat. LOL

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  6. Great advice. Never go food shopping hungry. This will certainly up the grocery bill. I share that from experience. I am a specials hunter. I can actually plan my meals around seasoned vegetables and specials. Saving on food is like a challenge to me and eating healthy is my main aim.

    My tip is don't go shopping without a well prepared list. This saves time and money. Thanks for the great tips. And whoever thought of putting the sweets on shelves where the kids are teased is the devil.

    Rachel.

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  7. We do probably go shopping hungry too often. This is such good advice. I really need to stick to my list!

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  8. lol I'm the master at sticking to my list! However if I have to take hubby or my daughter shopping with me omg.... I always end up going over budget-_- those two have no self control lol...

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  9. These are great shopping tips. I have heard some of them before, but they are too often ignored. It's great to have a reminder!

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  10. This is great advice! Parents should be prepared for all the traps in the store!

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  11. Great tips here. Thankfully my son has always been a good eater ...but oddly enough, he is pickier now at 7 than he was at 3 lol.

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  12. I have to have a list before I grocery shop or I will come home with nothing but junk! HA! I don't have kids but I son't know if I would take them grocery shopping with me or not!

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  13. I try to shop when my kiddo is in school or at night, so he does not influence my shopping trip! I am also pretty good about sticking to my list because I want to get out of there faster.

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  14. Awesome and effective tips, it's really important to have a list so I make sure I survey the house first and check for items we need. I learned the hard way when I went into the store hungry! That's such a terrible ordeal. Lol.

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  15. Amazing and effective tips indeed. Particularly like the water bottle idea.

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  16. This is some great tips and advice! I love the water bottle idea! Thank you for posting!

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  17. The grocery store process seemed so much easier when there was just one child. I thought I had it under control until there were three of them. Great tips.

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  18. Great tips! I really need to make lists more often. I always end up forgetting something when I don't. I try to go when my husband is home, so he can stay with the kids. I need all my brain power to find the sales and shop!

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  19. These are great tips! I always get thirsty while shopping. I'll need to remember a bottle of water!

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  20. great tips. When I had kids in tow I would give them some paper and use it as a math problem. The could add or subtract what we put in the cart. I taught them budgeting and kept them busy till we got what we needed.

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  21. Really good tips. I agree that planning ahead of time is a must and not going when hungry is super important. I always rerun the rules and what we plan to buy with my children before we go.

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  22. Preparation does help a lot. So does a babysitter (hahaha just kidding). I never minded taking my kids to the store. :)

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  23. Good tips. I do have my son help out in getting things from different parts of the store now that he has gotten older. I also make it be things sometimes that he wants so he gets to pic the option of that item.

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  24. Great tips! Too often I shop when hungry, and that never turns out well. Our grocery store has a natural foods aisle, and I love spending time there :) Thanks for all the great ideas!

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  25. I've never thought about taking water with me as I shop but that's a great idea. I do need to start making a list and I recently printed some printable lists out so I will do that.

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  26. Aah, bringing a bottle of water is a good idea! I never thought of that! Thanks for the tip!

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  27. I don't have kids but I see the pain of parents when they are carrying their kids in the shopping carts at Walmart or Publix and kids screaming at the top of their voices demanding for stuffs. I really feel sad for parents juggling between their kids and grocery shopping. Thanks for sharing some great tips and I am sure it will help those parents! :)

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  28. Great tips! I have two kids but one will really fill up our grocery cart with sweets. What I do is I talk to her even before grocery shopping that she's permitted to buy only one kind of sweets.

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  29. Bringing a water bottle with you while you shop is a great tip. Sometimes we can be in the store for a while and find that we start rushing to get out because of being thirsty and then taking something off the shelf to pay for later. I'm definitely going to start bringing a water bottle.

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