Be A Better Grocery Shopper

I find that a lot of my clients are scared of the grocery store. It definitely can be a scary place! All those aisles filled with grocery goodness! What is healthy and what isn’t? How do you know where to start and what to buy? Follow these simple rules to ensure that you get the most out of your grocery shopping experience:


  • Most everything you need is on the perimeter of the store. Your produce, meats, and dairy cases are all on the outside. The isles are where the boxed and processed foods reside.


  • Not all things are necessary to buy organic. The following produce list is often referred to as the “Dirty Dozen” because they contain the highest levels of pesticides.
    • THE DIRTY DOZEN: Peaches, Apples, Sweet Bell Peppers, Celery, Nectarines, Strawberries, Cherries, Pears, Grapes (Imported), Spinach, Lettuce, Potatoes.
    • THE LEAST CONTAMINATED: Onions, Avocado, Sweet Corn (Frozen), Pineapples, Mango, Asparagus, Sweet Peas (Frozen), Kiwi Fruit, Bananas, Cabbage, Broccoli, Papaya.
    • Beef, Poultry, and Dairy are also worth the organic price because they are produced without growth hormones and antibiotics.
    • Currently the USDA has not developed organic certification standards for seafood.
    • REMEMBER: buying organic foods that aren’t good for you doesn’t make them healthy!! (example: organic cookies and chips)


  • Frozen fruits and vegetables are often flash frozen locking in nutrients better than canned foods.
  • Frozen fish and chicken is also flash frozen at the source locking in nutrients and making them convenient alternatives to store in your freezer.


  • Make a list according to how your grocery store is laid out and STICK TO IT! If ice cream isn’t on your list, don’t go down the ice cream aisle.
  • Don’t go to the grocery store when you are tired, hungry or irritable. This almost always leads to impulse buys.
  •  If possible, don’t take the kids! Grocery stores target impulse buyers and almost all kids are impulse buyers!
  • Don’t get distracted at the checkout line. As you are waiting to check out grocery stores stock the racks with tempting candy bars and sodas. Don’t be fooled! If you think you might give in bring in water with you and pop a piece of sugar-free gum! Or flip through the latest gossip magazine until it is your turn to pay.


  • THE FDA requires that all ingredients be listed in descending order of predominance by weight. Try to pick foods that have a short ingredient list that don’t have many artificial ingredients.
  • Look for foods that have ingredients that you can pronounce
  • Choose foods that are “real”. Examples are 100% fruit juice or 100% whole-grain items with as little processing and as few additives as possible. If you want more salt or sugar, add it yourself.

Finally, just take a deep breath and go for it! You are in control and remember if you don’t buy it; it won’t find its way into your house!

Do you like grocery shopping? Are you a good shopper?


33 Responses

  1. Great post. I have days when I enjoy grocery shopping and then there are those “ugh” days. I definitely enjoy my Whole Foods trips much more. However, I find I’m really bad with impulse buys at WFs. Like a kid in a candy store.

  2. oh, i love grocery shopping! i like the “stick to the outside” rule…that’s where all of the quality real food tends to be 🙂

  3. I LOVE grocery shopping! I totally keep to the outside of the store. And actually follow pretty much all those rules. Im really bad at making a list, but I usually know what I need and stick pretty close to it.
    My boyfriend wont go grocery shopping with me because I take it very seriously. When I walk in, Im on a mission, and by the time Im finished Ive usually worked up a sweat! 🙂

  4. I love grocery shopping! WF’s is where it’s at 😉

  5. I do enjoy grocery shopping. I prefer to go solo, and I never go down isles I don’t need to go down, i.e., ice cream, candy, chips, cereal, crackers, boxed rice and pastas, etc. I stick to my list and I am in and out in no time.

  6. I plan on covering some of this in a post soon! I think I am a pretty good shopper. I do love to do it, but I will be honest for a while after Tony was diagnosed with celiac, I hated it. It cost too much money and it was just overwhelming! I have a few little gadgets up my sleeve these days though!

  7. I enjoy grocery shopping when I’m not rushed. When I’m in a hurry, I make impulse buys. I am hoping to try to buy more organic fruits and vegetables. Right now it’s a challenge buying fresh stuff in general.

  8. Great tips!! I LOVE grocery shopping…but I always spend too much money!! Haha…I guess that’s why I like it so much 🙂

  9. Great tips! Totally agree with the stick to the outside technique! That’s where all the good stuff is!

  10. Omg girl…i feed a family of high raw vegans (need a constant supply of fresh produce and tons of it) on 1 income in southern cal. I cannot afford organic in the store but i do buy from local farmer’s market (*which is usually non-certified but organic)..and I always buy seasonal. whatever is in the front of the store, on sale, on a value-buy, and cheap! I have posted before about why i dont always buy organic (i wont like drop on ya..haha!) but suffice to say, I do the best i can without going into debt to feed our family!

  11. I’ve been eating a lot of frozen veggies lately–mainly because I’m too lazy to do all the chopping and preparing myself. (And they’re cheaper!) It’s helped me up my veggie intake, so while I would like to eat fresh produce, I’m gonna just be OK with this for now. And I’ve been traveling less and less down the grocery aisle lately–woohoo! It doesn’t mean I’m not still EATING it, but I’m trying to get out of the habit of buying it to have in the freezer, ya know, just “in case” I want it 😉

  12. I LOVE food shopping!! I think it definitely helps if you know the store well, and can write your list accordingly. It always throws me off when I go into a new store and don’t know how the aisles are laid out!!!

  13. I dread weekly grocery shopping, and I don’t really know why! I follow all of your little tips up there – and it takes me a really long time to get in and out of the store usually. But when I can go to a place like WF and just browse, I LOVE it.

  14. Well done, Good information.

  15. I love grocery shopping, I love deciding on what yummy things to buy…though unfortunately, David hates it. I’m probably going to have to stop taking him soon…ha!

    • I hate grocery shopping with Keith because he is a turtle! He is so slow and he is a big impluse buyer! I like to get in, get out and get what I need! Needless to say we don’t shop together very often!

  16. I follow all those guidelines and it really does help make for a better trip. Although, some stuff from the inner aisles will always make its way in my cart. LOL

  17. I am not awful, but honestly I think you’re right that healthy eating starts with what you put in your cart. That food eventually finds it’s way to your tummy so make smart decisions from the get-go.

    But my Whole Foods has the most amazing samples out, fresh fruit, cheeses, muffin bits, etc. So hard to stroll by.

  18. so interesting about organic (or lack thereof) seafood! Thanks for the new info Kell.

  19. LOVE grocery shopping! And, what do you mean if ice cream isn’t on my list, I don’t need to buy it? 😉

  20. I love grocery shopping, as long as it isn’t big trip. I try to go a few times a week, because then I can get in and out in under 20 min, and I always have fresh foods. If I go a week or so, it turns into an epic event and I just end up crabby.

    I’m sending my mom a link here!

  21. Great post Kelly!! I love grocery shopping!

  22. I love grocery shopping! My husband and I grocery shop every Sunday morning before church – our little tradition! I shop at Trader Joe’s – so I always know I’m getting good food – no artificial flavorings/colorings!

  23. i love gorcery shopping! i kind of think of it as a toy store, what do i want to play with for my next few meals!

  24. I love grocery shopping, well I love EVERY SHOPPING…..LOL
    I get all excited when I find fresh veggies and fruits and when they have fresh fish… makes me very excited….LOL

  25. Those are some great shopping tips! I used to love grocery shopping, but that was when I worked 10 fewer hours a week. Now it’s just a chore to do. :/

  26. Hey there 🙂

    I love grocery shopping and we usually do it together and find it very romantic to go grocery shopping for us 🙂 As he is the chef he knows what we need for cooking and I know better what we need besides that, good duo 🙂 I usually shop healthy because I believe if I don’t have unhealty food at home I will less likely eat it.

  27. That was an interesting post. Thanks for the info.

    Personally I buy everything organic. I go to the bio-market and buy whatever there is available.

  28. Great tips! Sticking to the perimeter of the grocery store works best for me.

  29. such amazing advice! i know a ton of people who think that organic = healthy.. so untrue! & not always worth it to buy organic when you can save some money for pretty much the same thing!

  30. Great tips!

    Grocery shopping makes me so happy.

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