Shopping Without Dropping: How to Avoid 8 Common Grocery Store Mistakes

Mistakes to Avoid While Grocery Shopping
Courtesy of Getty Images

Grocery stores are full of bustling people, carts competing for aisle space, and a seemingly endless array of choices. Supermarket mistakes can spell diet disasters, but don't worry: I have your back! I’m Hungry Girl Lisa Lillien, and here are the top 8 food-shopping pitfalls and how to avoid them.

1. Going to the Grocery Store Hungry or Distracted

It’s probably the biggest and most common mistake people make: grocery shopping on an empty stomach.

Maybe you forgot to pack a snack after a workout, or you’re heading to the store straight from work and your body's demanding dinner. Either way, your choices will be made by your appetite rather than your brain.

Distractions also play a factor. Are you trying to multitask by shopping while gabbing on the phone with your parents? Checking social media and the ripeness of avocados at the same time? Focus on the task at hand: getting healthy and delicious food for you and your family. Keep your car or purse stocked with smart emergency snacks, and you'll avoid this supermarket slipup.

2. Not Reading or Comparing Nutrition Labels

That snack looks healthy. The word “natural” is on there, and it only has 150 calories! But then you get home and discover that despite its all-natural appeal, it's loaded with fat and sugar. And that 150-calorie price tag? It's for a teeny-tiny serving!

Read the nutrition panel carefully, and don’t just read one—compare labels!

Yes, this makes for a longer shopping trip, but you'll be happy in the long run.

3. Not Bringing a List

While you're being intentional with your shopping, please make a list. But don’t just make a list! Stick to it! Budget for money and nutrition. Your bank account and scale will thank you.

Don’t know where to start?

Plan an aisle-by-aisle supermarket list and use it as a guide. And always keep an eye out for new healthy treats. That’s the fun part!

4. Not Knowing When to Buy in Bulk

Buying in bulk is great: You save money, and you stock up on healthy staples. It’s a win-win—until it isn’t.

Don’t load up on things you've never tried before just because the bulk price is low, and don't over-buy your trigger foods—the ones you can't stop eating—either! Know yourself, and have your grocery list reflect your needs.

Look for healthy shelf-stable staples and things you can freeze, and get creative with eating them so that you don't get bored.

5. Ignoring Frozen Foods

Fresh produce is fabulous: colorful, ripe (you hope!), and just waiting to be picked. But frozen fruits and veggies can be just as good. Same goes for meat!

Keep a bag of frozen berries in your freezer for smoothies and straight-up snacking. Check the freezer section for individually packaged chicken breasts or fish fillets. You no longer have to scramble to use fresh ingredients before they go bad. Take back control from nature, and cook your produce and protein when you’re ready.

Worried about getting the most nutrition out of your produce? Frozen fruits and vegetables are often flash-frozen at peak freshness, so go ahead and stock up on these handy staples.

6. Stocking Up Just Because Something Is on Sale

Saving money is great, but you’re not really saving cash if you’re buying things that you don’t need. Check the store's website ahead of time and only add discounted foods to your list that you truly need. Then stick to the list. Trust your careful planning, and don't fall prey to impulse buys.

7. Getting Enamored With the Snack Aisle

The glorious snack aisle is also the pitfall of many hungry humans! Don’t worry; you can outsmart temptation.

Remember: Take your time to look at the nutrition labels. Check your list. Check it twice. And avoid those trigger foods!

It's okay to try something new (or stick to classics if you're a boredom snacker); just make sure the stats meet your standards.

8. Not Checking Your Pantry Before You Shop

Powdered peanut butter, whole-wheat flour, apple cider vinegar, spices, natural no-calorie sweetener... These are just a few items that you’re likely to use again and again. Bonus: They have a nice long shelf life! Keep that pantry fully stocked, and save yourself from a frustrating grocery store run in the middle of making your next meal.

Stick to these tips, and experience victory over the grocery store. For more tips and tricks, plus guilt-free recipes, food finds, and more, sign up for free daily emails at hungry-girl.com!

Continue Reading