Conquering the Grocery Store

I remember the moment like it was yesterday.  I was holding my 4 week old baby girl as I walked to the kitchen for a snack (breastfeeding made me as hungry as a teenager).  I opened the fridge and realized that the moment had arrived: I had to go grocery shopping. Alone.  The family had all gone home and the meals from friends had stopped. It was time to conquer the grocery store.  I know I am not the only new mom who felt like the first trip to the store with your newborn was as hard as running a half marathon.  My mind started working through the logistics.  If I push the baby in the stroller, how can I push a cart too?  If I put the carseat in the cart, where will I put the groceries?  I know it’s not safe to balance my carseat on the grocery cart…Enter the Ergobaby Carrier to save the day!  I could strap my little one in the baby carrier and she would be happy to be close to me. I’d also have both hands free to push the cart and gather groceries. Perfect!

Well, I am happy to say I survived that first trip to the store, as well as the dozens of others over the past year. The experience was a good reminder that for anyone to successfully conquer the grocery store, you need to do a little planning.  The same is true in regards to your health.  Did you know that your grocery shopping habits could be part of the reason you aren’t fitting into your pre-pregnancy jeans? Exercise is a huge component as well, but a critical aspect of reaching your fitness goals is closely tied to how you shop. It’s difficult to eat well when you don’t have the things you need to make healthy recipes on hand, or when you have lots of tempting, less wholesome foods just sitting in your pantry.  So let’s take a look at 3 ways to conquer the grocery store and in turn, conquer your fitness goals! Are you ready for Grocery Shopping 101?

Don’t Grocery Shop Hungry

Have you ever noticed that when you grocery shop right before dinner you tend to pile your cart higher than usual or reach for foods you normally resist?  A recent study at Cornell University reported that shoppers who had skipped a meal bought almost 19% more food overall and 45% more high-calorie items than people who ate before shopping.  Yikes!  Luckily there is a simple fix. Grab a snack and eat it in the car on your way to the grocery store. A handful of almonds works great! You’ll make better choices as you cruise the aisles.

Make a Meal Plan

Yes, it takes time to sit down and plan, but it makes the rest of your week run more smoothly because you won’t be struggling at 5 o’clock, wondering what you are going to make for dinner.  As a bonus, you’ll end up saving money since you won’t buy extra things that you don’t end up using before they spoil.  There are a lot of great sites that can help you with meal planning. Some of them even help you plan it so that you use the same ingredients in multiple meals, saving time and money. I surveyed a few friends and the ones they liked best were The Fresh 20E mealsWellness Mama, and Deliciously Organic. And here is a great review of the main meal planning sites, along with their pros and cons. There are lots out there, just be sure to take a close look at the meals to make sure they are indeed healthy!

Make a Grocery List

This is a MUST!  Unless you have an amazing memory, chances are you can’t keep a mental list of all the things you need to buy. Especially if you are trying to buy groceries for a week, like I mentioned above in my tip on meal planning. Doing so saves money compared to going every day or two.  Having a list will also ensure you get what you need for your meal plan and it will help you resist the temptation of impulse buys. I try to follow the rule that if it’s not on my list, I don’t buy it. Remember that it’s a lot easier to resist the tempting food once in the grocery store than over and over when it’s in your pantry!  I know some people who use some great apps to make their lists, but I like using an old-fashioned paper list because I keep it on the fridge and my husband can add any items he wants me to pick up.  Now, I’m kind of a crazy “type A” person, so a few years ago I decided to create a grocery list template. It has a box for each category and the boxes are even in the order of the path I take in the store. I know it may sound crazy, but it really does help me avoid having to backtrack in the store to get the things I missed. If you want to give it a try, you can download the word doc and customize it for yourself.

Lastly, don’t forget about the importance of exercise!  These tips are a great way to get great control of the food you let into your home.  But it’s the combination of a healthy diet and intentional exercise that will get you the best results. I know that getting to the gym for a traditional workout is really tough when you are a mom, but perhaps exercising at home would be a good option for you…especially while babywearing!

I hope these ideas help you think differently about your health and specifically, your grocery shopping! Your whole family will benefit from the planning you do to prepare healthy, nutrient-rich meals!

Happy shopping!

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Autumn was blessed to grow up in an active family where she learned to love exercise. She created Tailored Fitness, an online fitness program, to help other moms live healthy lives and set an example for their kids. Autumn lives in San Diego with her surf-loving husband and sweet baby girl Sienna.

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November 22, 2013