Grocery store smarts: Save money and eat healthy

To avoid the projected obesity rates in the United States, (almost 50 percent of the population by 2050. Yikes.) things have got to change. And the biggest thing to change are eating habits.

Think you are fine? If your BMI (body mass index) is over 30, you should strive for a healthy weight. Notice how I did not say a skinny weight, because that is not the goal. But a healthy weight. A high BMI has a lot of detriments. Physically it can affect your heart, joints and muscles. And it can really affect your wallet. With more health challenges, comes a higher health care costs. And the more health care costs continue to rise, the harder it will be to find inexpensive insurance.

So the first step is to change habits. Starting with the grocery store.

The grocery business is a growing and booming business. And their marketers play tricks to get you to buy more than you planned. Here are a few ways to avoid those tricks and to shop smarter.

  • Make a list. The best way to shop well and eat well is to only buy things you need for meals. Too often we are tempted with extra treats that add more to your wallet and to your waistline. If you plan your meals ahead at least weekly (if you are really on top of it, you could do it monthly!), you will have a better idea of exactly what you need. Now your job is to stick to it. If it is not on the list, do not be tempted. You do not need it.
  • Leave the kids at home. With busy moms it almost seems impossible to find time to go to the grocery store alone. But most moms do not have that option of shopping without kids, and marketers know that. This is the prime reason all of the fun items marketed towards kids are at children’s eye level. These (mostly) name brand items and nutritionally deficient items are in a prime position for a kid to see, want and then beg for. And don’t even get me started about the check out aisle full of treats. Marketers hope that in trying to pacify your children’s wants and tantrums that you will toss those extra items impulsively. Do yourself a favor. Take a break from the kids and shop alone.
  • Use coupon well. Coupons can save families hundreds of dollars each year. Some extreme couponers even boast about making money from coupons. But the key to coupons is to make sure you are really clipping the ones that you use. Generally the coupons are for pre-packaged and pre-processed foods that have little nutritional value. If you would already purchase the item, use the coupon. If not, ditch the coupons and go for the produce, which rarely has a coupon but is much better for your wallet and your body.
  • Do not shop hungry. Unless you want to purchase everything in sight. This is almost as bad as shopping with five children.