This post was written by Michelle Park, one of our ShopWell team members. Michelle is a 27 year old Korean American born who was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She works on ShopWell’s Data Analytics and assists with Product Marketing. In her spare time, she loves running, eating healthy, and traveling.
Grocery Shopping used to be hard for me. Trying to plan a week’s worth of healthy meals, keeping it under a budget, and thinking about spoilage tended to cause a lot of worry for me. I would stress over having a plan that would translate into a set number of healthy meals before shopping. Then during the actual shopping process, the grocery bill would linger in the back of my mind as I wondered if I had spent too much money. Finally at home, I was uncertain if the food I had bought would spoil before I had a chance to eat it.
At a certain point however, I decided to just be consistent in my grocery shopping and cooking without worrying about a perfect plan. I learned that finding my own tricks to prevent food from spoiling, making healthy decisions while shopping that will lead to healthy eating, and having a flexible budget while still being cost conscious helped with my worries and stress. Here are some of the things that helped me:
I freeze anything I can
One of the biggest worries I had was knowing how much to buy – I didn’t know if I could finish all the food I bought before it spoiled. Freezing is the best solution for that, especially meat, fish, and breads – all of which spoil within a week. Now I just freeze those items, and when I want to use them I move them into the refrigerator the night before or use the microwave to defrost the day of, and I am good to go.
I take note of vegetables and fruits that store well and work them in my meal routine
Even though things like meat, fish, and bread are great for freezing; veggies are often times not. But the trick for this is to buy less perishable veggies like onions and carrots and root vegetables like potatoes, squash, yams, and radishes, which stay fresh for a several weeks if stored correctly. Onion is a great compliment to meat dishes, stews, soups, stir-frys, and more. Apples have a good storage life, so I always have them stocked and eat them as a snack nearly every day.
These items last longer, don’t have to be bought as frequently, and are cheap. They reduce stress (well mine at least!) because of their longer shelf life and are reasonably priced.
I indulge myself in the fruit and vegetable aisle (but only enough for a week)
After I have a base of long storing vegetables and fruits, I indulge in things with a shorter shelf life like berries, bananas, and leafy greens. Here’s the catch – I only buy enough that I can reasonably finish by the end of the week and I don’t buy junk food like chips and cookies. These choices along with buying what’s in season helps me avoid a sky-high grocery bill.
Knowing that I have bought enough for a week reduces the worry that my food will spoil before I use it and buying just enough to last the week keeps the bill reasonable.
I avoid the junk food aisle by having a healthy snack routine
One of the ways to ensure that I consciously make healthy eating decisions is by avoiding the junk food aisle and instead having a few healthy snacks in rotation. My go-to snacks are nuts, yogurt and granola, celery and carrot sticks with almond butter, edamame, boiled eggs, and yams. They are filling and low in fat and sugar. It also saves a lot of money because junk food can get expensive.
Having a routine of healthy snacks gives me the peace of mind that I’m probably not going to end up indulging in junk calories. Plus I know I have filling and healthy options available when I do need a quick snack.
Do you face the grocery store with complete confidence or is it a source of stress for you?