When it comes to grocery shopping, saving time and money at the store are essential.  Here are 4 mindful tips from nutrition Expert Emily Holdorf to help prep and simplify the process of your next outing.

You’ve heard it before – only shop the perimeters of the grocery store, come with a list, don’t shop when you’re hungry.

But then life happens.

We’re real people, shopping for real food that we will actually eat, on a real budget, on a real time crunch.

Here are a few tips to take with you to the grocery store that will help you save time and money on your next grocery shopping trip:

1. ​Enjoy produce in all their forms.

There’s a common misconception that fresh fruits & veggies are the only way to go and the most nutritious. That couldn’t be further from the truth! Frozen & canned produce has been preserved at its peak freshness. This means all those nutrients are locked into the produce, so these preserved versions of fruits or veggies may actually be better choices at times.

If you’re cooking for one or two every night, fresh produce can become wasteful due to its shorter shelf life. Also, take into consideration what you’re going to be making. If you’re making a stew or cooked fruit item, choosing the cheaper option (which are often times canned or frozen) is the better way to go since the texture doesn’t need to be as crisp and fresh.

2. ​Purchase fruits & veggies that are in season.

Not only will this get you the best deal due to simple economics – when there’s more of an item available, the price drops – it will give you the best flavor and nutrients. No one wants the tomato coming from thousands of miles away, losing nutrients & flavor in the dead of winter. This would be a time where reaching for the canned tomatoes may be the better option. Another great option is to buy produce when it’s in season, then freeze or can it yourself so you can enjoy your favorite fruits & veggies all year long!

3. ​Compare unit prices.

If you look closely at the price tag on the shelf, you will notice there are two prices listed:

  1. The unit price, or price of the item per pound, ounce, or other measurement.
  2. The price you actually pay.

So the next time you’re trying to decide whether you should get the bigger box of cereal, or the whole carrots vs. the baby carrots, take a look. Compare that unit price. As long as the unit measurements are the same, it is an equal comparison.

So choosing the item with the lower unit price = the better deal.

This is also a great way to compare different sized containers, the same foods in different forms, foods in similar categories or food groups, and different brands of the same food. This handy little trick can end up saving you big time in the long term!

4. ​Be a whole grain detective.

When choosing whole grain products, it can be tricky. The front of package labeling can be pretty liberal & confuse us. The best way to know you are truly buying a whole grain product is seeing whole grain as the first ingredient on the list. Some common names for whole grains are: whole [name of grain, like wheat, rye, or oats], buckwheat, oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa.

Don’t be fooled by bread that is brown in color. Manufacturers can add coloring or molasses to breads that can make them look like wheat, but they really aren’t. Don’t get tripped up with fancy names like, multigrain, 100% wheat, 7-grain, or stone-ground. A lot of times these products aren’t whole grain, so just be sure to check the ingredient list.

Now that you’ve got the basics down, happy shopping!


Emily Holdorf, RDN is a Scranton, PA-based private practice dietitian on a mission to empower others to live a healthier, happier life.  By emphasizing a non-diet approach to eating, Emily helps individuals form a better relationship with food by focusing on why there’s room for every food in moderation. Find out more about about Emily at EmPowered Nutrition.

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