Grocery shopping can be a difficult task, even for the most organized person.
Tempting, unhealthy foods seem to lurk in every aisle, threatening to offset your health goals.
A grocery list is a handy tool that can help you navigate the store with ease and help you stick to your healthy eating plan.
A well-thought-out grocery list is not only a memory aide, it can also keep you on track, minimizing impulse buying while saving you money. It will also set you up for success even when you’re tight on time, helping you keep nutritious food on hand to eat all week.
What’s more, studies have shown that using a list while grocery shopping can lead to healthier food choices and even weight loss (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source).
The following tips will help you prepare a healthy grocery shopping list so you can fill your cart with smart choices.
Having the ingredients necessary to prepare tasty meals all week long is an excellent way to maintain a healthy diet.
Having an empty fridge, freezer or pantry can lead you to rely on fast food or takeout, especially when you have a packed schedule. That’s why it’s so important to stock your shelves with nutritious options.
Studies have shown that people who plan their meals in advance have a healthier overall diet and lower body weight than those who don’t (3Trusted Source).
Plus, those who plan their meals ahead of time tend to cook more meals at home, a practice that has been linked to better diet quality and lower levels of body fat (3Trusted Source).
Making a point of planning your meals for the week may help you avoid making poor choices and help you create a grocery shopping list more efficiently.
An excellent way to start planning your meals is to create a recipe board detailing the meals you would like to eat for the week, including breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks.
After figuring out what ingredients you will need to create your meals, add these to your grocery list, being sure to include the amount of each food you will need.
Keep a Running Grocery List
Rather than scrambling to remember which favorite pantry staple you recently ran out of, keep a running list of the items you need to buy during your next trip to the grocery store.
Dry erase boards or magnetic to-do lists that hang on your fridge are excellent ways to keep tabs on your kitchen inventory.
There are also many apps designed to help you stay on top of grocery shopping and meal planning.
Keeping track of the foods you use, as well as the new and healthy foods you want to try, will make compiling your weekly shopping list that much easier.
Summary Meal planning is the
first step to creating a healthy grocery shopping list. Creating a grocery list
based on pre-planned meals will help you make nutritious dishes that fit your
When you’re creating a healthy grocery list, it’s important to be realistic about the foods you will actually consume.
Although you may want to try lots of new and different foods when you’re first beginning a more nutritious way of eating, try to choose just a few new healthy foods each week.
When you’re grocery shopping without a list, it’s easy to become sidetracked by items that appeal to you.
This may cause you to purchase more food than you can realistically consume in a week, or lead you to choose items that you should be eating but don’t necessarily like.
This can lead to wasted food and less money in your wallet.
Choosing just a few new foods each week to incorporate into your meals is a good way to expand your palate, add nutrients and discover which healthy foods you really enjoy.
For example, if you are trying to incorporate more green, leafy vegetables like kale, arugula and spinach into your diet but don’t know which ones you would like, try out one new leafy green each week until you narrow down a few favorites.
This will allow you to sample new foods without the risk of wasting food and money.
Before you know it, you will be able to create a fresh grocery list every week, filled with nutritious foods that you love to eat.
Summary When you’re trying out
new foods, try incorporating one or two new ingredients each week to help you
identify items that you truly like to eat. Introducing new foods gradually will
also save you from wasting food and money.
Organize Your List
Separating your grocery shopping list by category is an excellent way to save time and keep your shopping trips stress-free.
You can organize your list by food category or how your favorite grocery store is laid out.
Organizing your list into sections helps you shop in a more efficient manner and minimizes the chances of impulse buying.
This type of list keeps you on task and focused on the items you’ve planned, rather than distracted by the endless unhealthy foods on the grocery shelves.
To start, divide your list into sections based on food types. Categories include:
If you are trying to cut back on snacking or don’t want to keep sweets in the house, avoid creating space on your list for snacks or desserts.
Try to include only healthy categories on your list so that your focus is only on wholesome, nutrient-dense foods.
If you are familiar with your grocery store’s layout, try separating your list based on the sections where your foods are located. For example, if you usually begin your shopping trip in the produce aisle, list your fruits and vegetables first.
This way, you can streamline your shopping trip and avoid having to circle back to a particular section.
This narrows the chances of being tempted by unhealthy items while you’re wandering around the grocery store in search of foods on your list.
Summary Organizing your
grocery shopping list into categories can help you stay on task, saving you
time and keeping you from making unhealthy choices.
Written by Jillian Kubala, MS, RD — Updated on August 27, 2020