We’ve all been in that situation...you go to the store to buy groceries with the best of intentions. I’m going to eat salads all week! No chips...no chips...NO CHIPS! Just going to pass on the ice cream this time. But somehow, by the time you are at the register, you start lining things up on the conveyor belt for what looks like a starved, sugar-loving 8 year old.
Good news! There’s a way to prevent your inner-child from taking over the shopping cart. First, you’ll want to sign up for my free Half the Sugar, Twice the Awesome e-course. It’s 30 minutes, full of easy ways to cut down on sugar, and it’s taught by a hopelessly relatable sweet tooth (yours truly).
Once you’re done with the course, all you have to do is nail these three basic steps before you get to the store, and you’ll be ogled by every other person in line who wishes they had the mental fortitude and self-control that you so clearly have mastered.
Step 1: Make a meal plan
“A failure to plan is a plan for failure.” Put it on a post-it on the fridge!
Use a cute weekly calendar or my favorite weekly meal planning calendar. I’ve even got a video along with the template to walk you through the process and make it super easy. I plan one week at a time, but if you’re feeling ambitious, you can plan up to a month!
Plug in meals starting with breakfast, which tends to be the easiest if you normally eat the same things in the morning. In general, you might want to write out dinner before lunch, since dinner leftovers can often be lunches for the next day. But, you may have a go-to salad or meal combo for lunch, so if that’s easier, then plug it in! Go until every meal is filled for the week (or so) and then pat yourself on the back. Then continue to step 2!
Step 2: Make a list
Let me tell you, lists have turned me into a productivity machine! The day I realized that I work best when I can cross tasks off a list was a pivotal point in my life as an adult. That’s why there are at least seven list pads at any given point laying around my home, and why I always scan the organization aisle at Marshalls to pick up an adorable $3 notepad. Or five.
Anyways, break down each meal into ingredients needed from the store. Go one meal at a time, one day at a time. Make sure you can easily tell what quantity of the item you need, such as 4lbs of pork tenderloin, 7 chicken breasts, 5 yogurts etc. Then, decide which store or stores you will be hitting up.
**IMPORTANT ADULT MOMENT**
You may save a few dollars going to four different stores for all the things you need, but your time is more valuable than those few dollars, so this is why you take a look and see what you can get, from where, and in the shortest amount of time.
For example, I usually get my meats, dairy, and grains from Costco, and everything else from the Food Bazaar near my home. There’s also a sweet old couple that runs a fruit stand at the end of my block. I eat bananas and some sort of berry every week, so every Monday I take a short walk up to say hello and stock up on the essentials.
Got a meal plan? Got a list? Ready to go? Not just yet…
Step 3: EAT SOMETHING!
Costco is brilliant for having pizza pickup at the end of the checkout line. Target is genius for making the only way in OR out smell delightfully of soft pretzels. Do you think they don’t know what they’re doing?!
These stores know that many people don’t think to eat before they go buy lots of food. Many think that they’ll “just make something with what they get when they get home.” Yeah, okay. Let’s see how much willpower you have when you’ve been staring at delicious food for an hour and likely have a child/spouse with you who is equally starving… That $10 pizza is starting to look reeeeeal friendly.
So this is the big step that you CANNOT SKIP. Eat something. Not just a granola bar, not just your kid's fruit snacks that you remembered were stuffed at the bottom of your purse. A whole meal would be super, but if time doesn’t allow, pretend you’re headed to a workout and don’t want to pass out. So, something between 150-250 calories, contains protein to keep you full, some simple and complex carbs for both instant and sustained energy, and bonus points if there are fruits and/or veggies involved. My faves are a PB sandwich on wheat bread and a piece of fruit; a protein shake; a Greek yogurt parfait; or a few bites of last night’s leftovers. Whatever I treat as a pre-workout energy meal, or a normal meal, works.
To sum things up, these aren’t quick-fix solutions. You want to schedule 30 mins to an hour to dedicate to these three steps. You’ll start to get the hang of it and become more efficient with practice, so don’t get discouraged if it takes some time to get used to. This is adulting. I want you to make the most out of your healthy efforts, and that means dedicating time to making the most out of your nutrition. Trust me, it does get easier, and you will wonder how you ever lived any other way.
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