Having a busy schedule can make grocery shopping a challenge. Sometimes you only have 15 minutes to shop, or you’re in the final stages of packing for an extended trip and don’t have time to do an extensive food run. In these scenarios, it’s helpful to know how to decide what to eat at the grocery store. If you are fortunate enough to live near a grocery store and have plenty of time, you might be inclined to make a detailed list before going so that you can be sure not to leave anything important behind. However, many people do not have that luxury – at least not all the time. Whether it’s because of time constraints, budgeting concerns, or something else entirely different, there may come a time when you need help figuring out what foods are best for you at the grocery store.
How To Decide What To Eat
- The first step to choosing what to eat at the grocery store is to be aware of the foods that are in season. The seasons of the year have a major impact on the food choices you can make. For example, wine grapes are in season from late fall through early spring, but if you’re looking for a good wine, you’ll want to pay attention to what’s in season during those months. This is true for many staples as well. For example, avocados and mangoes are in season during summer, but if you want an avocado or mango smoothie this winter, it may be necessary to look at what is available during those months.
- Another way that knowing when foods are in season can help you decide what to eat at the grocery store is by taking into consideration average prices for each item over some time. For example, one-year avocados will cost $1.50 per avocado while another year they will cost $2 per avocado. Knowing these price differences can help you decide whether it is better to buy avocados now or wait until they cost less later on – which may not make sense if they will only cost more later on (e.g., if they have increased in price because of supply issues).
- It’s also helpful to take into consideration seasonal trends regarding food choices and allergies/food sensitivities (see below). For instance, allergies and food sensitivities often peak during the summer months, so it may be better to avoid certain foods during those months.
- Take into consideration the fact that some items are seasonal. For example, during the winter months, there is a shortage of avocados, which can make them more expensive than they would be during other times of the year. Sometimes this is due to supply issues and sometimes it’s because of demand issues – for example, people tend to eat fewer avocados in winter because they don’t think about them as much and the supply may not be able to keep up with demand.
- Another way for you to determine what foods are in season is by asking at your local farmer’s market. Many markets operate on a seasonal basis so you can expect different products to be available at different times of the year.
Plan Your Meals
- Calculate how many calories your body needs each day. This number varies depending on your age and gender. To figure out what your daily calorie needs are, you can use www.nutritiondata.com or calculate them using the tool below (which will also let you know what foods to consume to ensure that you reach your daily calorie needs).
- According to this calculator, a sedentary woman between the ages of 25-50 who is 5’6” tall and weighs 130 pounds should consume 2200 calories each day. The same woman should consume 1800-2500 calories per day if she is very active (e.g., very physically active; plays sports) (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jcb2.12171/abstract). You may want to take into consideration that some people are more active or less active than others and therefore need or want more or less food – this calculator will provide an appropriate range of calories based on those factors so you can adjust it to meet your particular needs and activity level (e.g., if you find yourself wanting to eat more because of a lack of activity, then use that number for one week then increase or decrease it so that it corresponds with the results from Step 2 above).
- Take into consideration how long you typically spend eating each meal and decide how many meals you should eat each day, then factor any planned activities into your decision (e.g., if you are traveling in a foreign country and plan to be out of the country for a week, then eating three meals per day would be inappropriate).
- Add on some treats (e.g., a small bag of chips or other snacks) and you can adjust your eating plan as needed so that it corresponds with the number of calories your body needs each day. This can be done over time to help tailor the diet further to meet the demands of your body at various times throughout the year.
- Think about how much time you have available for each meal and whether or not it would be better for you to eat more frequently during the day or at one large meal during the night before bed. If it’s possible, try to schedule three meals per day if possible, which will help ensure that you are meeting all of your daily caloric needs (i.e., food is consumed in roughly equal proportions at each meal). If this is not possible before starting this diet then just go with whatever works best for you – whether it is three meals per day or one big meal per night – but consider what works best in terms of appetite control while still ensuring that all of your daily caloric needs are being met (see next step).
Don’t Be Afraid Of The Frozen Aisle
- Consider where you shop for food (e.g., traditional grocery store, discount grocery store, fresh local produce store, organic market, etc.) and buy accordingly so that you are getting the most from your diet plan (e.g., bigger pieces of fruit instead of smaller pieces; buy a larger number of whole grains rather than small packaged individual grain products; eat more fruits and vegetables when they are in season).
- Think about how often you shop for food (e.g., weekly trips to the local grocery store versus nightly trips to the fast food restaurant) and with what foods (e.g., eat before going to bed or after going to bed regularly).
- Understand what types of foods you tend to purchase at each meal so that you know whether or not there is anything that should be purchased differently based on your particular needs and preferences while also ensuring that all daily caloric needs are being met (see Step 3 of above section – if you find yourself eating things not included in your diet then make sure they fit within your calorie calculations for this plan).
- Understand the importance of portion size when it comes to eating out and consider making meals at home more filling so that your need for calories is met but do this knowing that some restaurants have higher calorie levels than others – consider these factors when preparing meals at home so that you don’t end up overeating while still maintaining healthy eating plans over time.
- Set a goal of eating at home most of the time so that you can eat foods that fit within your calorie calculations and do not need to eat out (when eating out try to select restaurants that have lower calorie levels than your meals at home).
- Obtain a good solid food scale so that you can measure out portions of foods and see in real-time what you are consuming or not consuming (this will help you become more aware of how much food is in your mouth).
Whichever method you use to decide what to eat at the grocery store, make sure to always keep your healthy diet and lifestyle goals in mind. You can always go back and make changes later if need be. It’s important to stay flexible and adapt to your ever-changing life. You don’t need to follow these rules forever; they’re simply meant to be helpful guidelines to get you through those less-than-ideal shopping scenarios.