Help to avoid the pitfalls of food shopping

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The challenge of the weekly food shop!

Many people dread going food shopping, the traffic, parking, shopping bags, patience and sheer diligence required sometimes can be overwhelming. This can be further exacerbated with children when pester power kicks in!! So here are some simple tips that may help in doing the dreaded chore.

1. Getting organised

Be organised before you head shopping – in the long run it will make things easier and speed up the whole process. There are lots of good tips online to help.

  • Check your cupboards, fridge and freezer – know what you already have and throw out what is past its date.
  • Make a meal plan – planning the meals for you and your family for the week ahead.
  • Make a shopping list – listing out the essentials that you need for the week ahead based on your meal plan. That way you will ensure you will have everything as there can be lots of distractions while shopping!

2. Planning a healthy approach

There is so much information nowadays from many different sources on what is considered a healthy diet! Its back to keeping it simple and not getting overwhelmed!

  • Aim for 5-7 a day in fruit and vegetables. So, stock up on handy snacks like apples, pears, oranges, plums etc or vegetables sticks of cucumber, carrot or celery are a good way to meet some of your daily needs.
  • Think the rainbow – the more colour and variety that you can get in the better. Look at your list and your trolley there are a variety of colours in the fruit and veg.
  • Remember frozen vegetables can be just as nutritious and are very handy to have on these days where you are pressed for time.
  • Think brown when buying bread, pasta and rice. These all have a higher fibre content and are therefore of a higher nutritional value.
  • Tinned fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines or herring are all excellent options for lunch as well as being a great way of increasing your oily fish intake.
  • Think about buying less of the sweet items like cakes, biscuits, pastries, crisps and alcohol. If you don’t buy them then you can’t eat them. Consider alternatives like popcorn, nuts/seeds, wholemeal crackers, multigrain corn cakes or rice cakes or dark chocolate (70%).

3. Get the most out of your time at the supermarket

  • Limit your shopping trips to once or twice per week, you save time and money
  • Follow your list and only buy what you need, special offers are only special if you need the product and we don’t need 3 of them!
  • Shopping in the same supermarket can make it easier – you know where the food products are, and it will take less time to get through.
  • Avoid the aisle where the with the tempting cakes, sweets, crisps etc. If you don’t buy them then you won’t be tempted to eat them!
  • Own brand products can be good value and offer the same nutrition, so check the labels.
  • The higher nutritional foods are often on the higher shelf e.g. breakfast cereals and those with a higher sugar content are at eye level.
  • Don’t go shopping hungry – research shows we spend more on lower nutritional value foods.

4. When you are on budget.

There are times when the food budget can be limited, here are some ideas that will help reduce cost but not the nutrition of what you eat;

  • Many goods are often marked down to sell off because they are about to pass their use by date. Some of these e.g. red meats can be purchased and frozen immediately and then defrosted when needed. It’s important to read the instructions re freezing and thawing. E.g. vegetables can be purchased, and soup made which can then be frozen in portions until needed.
  • Protein alternatives like eggs are very versatile for meals.
  • For larger families adding a tin of cooked lentils or pulses (chickpeas, kidney beans etc) to curries, stews or bolognaise allow more portions.
  • Frozen and tinned vegetables like peas, beans and sweetcorn can be beneficial when on a budget.
  • Batch cooking stews, curries etc can be a good way of saving money and time.