Grocery shopping at Costco can be an enjoyable part of your weekly routine. You’ve got your menus for the week’s meals planned out and you are looking forward to feeding you and your family a variety of fresh and healthy options. Now, if this doesn’t sound like you, then you are more likely in the majority of consumers who feel a bit overwhelmed with menu and meal prep. Without a game plan, you may go to the store and come out with no more than a few items necessary to get dinner on the table let alone snacks that will last you through the work week. Below I share 7 “shop smart” strategies that will take you from confused to confident in any supermarket, and not just Costco.
- List don’t lust
One of the main benefits of going to the store with a list is that it may limit the temptations of filling up your cart with extra goodies that not only add to the cost at checkout but may possibly add to a growing waistline. Think of your list as a “prevention plan.” Whether your goal is weight loss or budget management, using a list will make you feel more organized and help you manage your time better.
- Be picky about your produce
The produce section is typically located in most store entrances and it is often the largest department. With colorful fruits and veggies beautifully displayed, who wouldn’t want to bring nature’s gifts home to enjoy? The problem I hear with most of my clients is that they go shopping and stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables only to have them spoil quickly. This is a great time to turn to the frozen foods section. You can pick up berries for smoothies or your Greek yogurt or buy frozen vegetables to add to a stir fry or homemade pizza. Think about only buying the fresh produce that you will use within the next three to five days, whether it is apples for your mid-morning snack, a bag of organic spinach for your salads or the avocados for taco night.
- When packaged may be preferred
I know you are probably all thinking, why would a nutritionist recommend packaged snacks vs. fresh whole foods? The reason is that we as a society love convenience, and good things do come in packages. Brands are listening and they know consumers want healthier options for their on-the-go lifestyles. Take hummus for example. Most of us are not going to blend up chickpeas, tahini, garlic and lemon juice on a weekly basis. Conveniently, there are delicious and natural options for hummus with a wide range of flavors. One of my favorite snacks comes from Sabra hummus, 2 heaping spoonfuls a day is all you need to reach your weekly recommendation of 1 ½ cup of beans. Made with chickpeas, the number one ingredient in hummus, these nutrient-rich beans are both a legume and a vegetable. You can spread, dip, or dress your food with Sabra hummus and get one step closer to better health! I always pick up the 2 ounce singles of Sabra hummus from Costco. It is a 16 count box and the singles are great for the on-the-go lifestyle paired with vegetables or pita chips.
- From farm to table
When we think about our wellness, our food choices greatly impact our long-term health. As we become more conscious consumers, we start thinking about the origin of our foods and how to better nourish our bodies. One recommendation I give my clients is to sign up for your local farmers market newsletter or check out their social media pages, as they share recipes and send you updates on which farmers will be in attendance. Oftentimes, farmers are giving away recipes as well. As a conscious consumer, you are more in control of what you eat and who you buy it from. For some this is natural, for others, this is a work in progress. If you simply like to visit your farmers market for that delicious cup of coffee and to check out the vendors, who knows, you just might get inspired and bring your own eco-friendly bag next time and do some shopping.
- Recipe rescue
When it comes to your grocery shopping list, you can organize it by recipe. Having the right ingredients in your pantry will make mealtime less stressful. If your recipe calls for vegetables and you do not have a lot of time for prep, head to the freezer section. If you need a marinara sauce, look for low-sodium options vs. making your own. Last but not least, enjoy the meal knowing that you made a healthy and delicious meal from the best ingredients you could source.
- Buy in bulk
Take advantage of buying in bulk when shopping at Costco. Between the cost savings and the simple fact that you will be stocked up and you will not have to make as many trips to the store for that particular item. One of my favorite bars that are perfect for on-the-go snacking or even for breakfast comes from KIND Snacks. Costco carries an 18 count box which Includes Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt and Madagascar Vanilla Almond flavors. These bars are seemingly indulgent with 5g of sugar or less, no artificial ingredients. They are also gluten free and are made with whole, recognizable ingredients. Not only are they satisfying, they are also good for your waistline!
- Avoid shopping on an empty stomach.
Shopping when you’re hungry can lead to bad decisions, as your cravings for processed, packaged foods are difficult to control. Eat a healthy snack before loading up on groceries and you won’t buy unhealthy foods that weren’t on your shopping list in the first place.
Visit cdiabetes.com/guide to get a free “Costco Diabetes and Heart-Healthy Shopping Guide” eBook.
Rania is a proud supporter of KIND Snacks.
Some of the above content was originally featured in this article authored by Rania for SheKnows.com
Questions for the Chat
(July 14, 2015 7pm EDT #DiabetesChat, Weight Loss and Diabetes Management)
- Why is weight loss so challenging? #DiabetesChat
- What’s the difference between a diet and an eating strategy? #DiabetesChat
- What is the #OneOneOneDiet? #DiabetesChat
- How does the 1:1:1 Formula help you maintain/reach a healthy weight? #DiabetesChat
- Why is stabilizing your blood sugar critical to weight loss? #DiabetesChat
- Isn’t it best to give up on snacking? #DiabetesChat
- What are some factors that influence weight loss? #DiabetesChat
- How can you get back on track when you goof? #DiabetesChat
- You say, “Think Wellness, Not Weight Loss” – tell us about this? #Diabetes Chat
- What are some good strategies for dining out? #DiabetesChat