Eating right on a budget: Fail-Proof Shopping

Another routine trip to the grocery store; your children are throwing a fit and you let them have whatever they want just to keep the peace. Is your spouse or partner being impulsive and making it hard to be “good”?

Do you find it difficult to stay within a budget at the supermarket? Do you enter the grocery store with no real plan of action?  Do you find yourself leaving the grocery store, blowing both the food and diet budgets simultaneously?

We want to save on money and save on calories; they can go hand in hand, and I will show you how. Eating healthy does not have to be expensive; you can lose weight and save money while doing it.

The first step is to stay clear-minded when grocery-shopping - enter the store with a plan, a list, and coupons... and you will be well on your way to saving money and eating well.


Step 1: Coupons
There are many ways to get coupons nowadays. The Sunday paper is still a great option, but in-store flyers, printable online coupons and mailers of both the electronic and physical variety will give you plenty to go through. There are even apps for smartphones, like Grocery IQ, that will give you in-store coupons for your local area. Set a time aside every week to go through the coupons and weekly deals, and clip out the ones that you think you may need. In the beginning, this may take you a couple of hours to do, but as with all things, practice and getting into a routine makes the process go more smoothly.


Step 2: Plan your Meals
Look over your coupons, the food you have in your home already, and think of possible meals for the week. For example, if there is a sale on turkey breast and red peppers, maybe you could make [[my everyday salad]]. If you are feeding a family, bulk sales on various proteins can save you a great deal of money. Try to plan balanced meals, making green, fresh vegetables the star of each meal, with smaller portions of meat and starch to compliment. Always try to use as many of the coupons as you can when planning your meals, to maximize the savings.


Step 3: Make a Shopping List
Take the meal plan you have created, and make a shopping list of all the food you will need to purchase to make them all happen.

Organize your coupons and your shopping list by grocery store section and flow; make it so that you do not have to bounce all over your list as you walk through the grocery store, and there is a better chance you will stick to the plan.

Sometimes, an item you make use of all the time will hit a clearance price or a promotion. If the sale on this item is fantastic and you have room for it in your pantry or freezer, consider buying in bulk. Even though the shopping list should primarily set you up for the week, it is okay to think long-term when the price is right.


Step 4: Don’t Shop Hungry
It is always a good idea to eat something before going into a grocery store. Shopping on an empty stomach often leads to impulse purchases of food that is not good for you, snacking on unhealthy samples that you normally would not eat, and generally spending more money than you intended.

The best way to get over the impulsive tendencies that come from shopping hungry is to have a sustaining snack, such as baby carrots or half of a healthy protein bar. This will keep you on the right track.


Step 5: Remove all Distractions
Congratulations, you have made a financially sound and healthy shopping list for the week! Now, let’s plan on how to use it, distraction-free in-store. First and foremost, it is easiest to stay on track if you shop alone. You only have to deal with your own “demons” and impulses, which is much more manageable when you have nobody else to pay attention to. If you must go to the store with company, make sure they are people who are helpful and supportive, and not harmful to your goals. Having said that, sometimes you have no choice, so always make sure to stick to the list, constantly read from it and do not deviate, no matter what.

It is also wise to stay away from isles that are overflowing with temptations. In most grocery stores, the fresh food stays to the outer walls, and the junk food is on the inner aisles. Staying out of the middle aisles as much as possible (and keeping your company away from those aisles as well) when buying food will ensure that you don’t get distracted.


In and out; those are the words that you stick to when going to the store. Get what is on the list, which you already organized to make it easy to quickly purchase what is needed, and make a beeline to the register.

When you get to the checkout aisle, do not pick up anything right by the counter.  In retail language, those items are called “impulse” buys or items, which explains a lot.  They add to your bottom line, in both ways.  If you’re reading this, you want neither.

Share your ways of Fail-Proof shopping in the comments below.  Stay tuned for the next installment  in this continuing series: “Inexpensive ways to buy healthful foods, and reach your goals!”, and stay


Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine.
--Lord Byron