Roll your cart down the aisle and you’ll be assaulted by bright lights, enticing smells, and row upon row of shameless hucksterism (“All-Natural! 9 vitamins and minerals! Everyone’s a winner!”). That’s fine when the stakes are low, and all that’s at stake is winning a 5-foot-tall Pokémon doll playing Balloon Dart Throw.
But what about that balloon around your belly? And your desire for clean, healthy and efficient rapid weight loss?
The truth is, the grocery store is your first stop in building a healthy lifestyle for you and your family. But it’s also a business. Supermarkets are designed to make you spend as much money as possible, often on high-margin products loaded with cheap ingredients and non-nutritive calories.
The key to any good offense is a solid defense. Smart shoppers share a set of characteristics, and by pawing through the research and spending countless hours in supermarkets, Eat This, Not That! finally managed to crack the code. Adopt these 25 habits and you’ll be well on your way to being a master of the modern-day market. And speaking of saving money, discover these 30 Cheap Lunch Tips for When You're Broke!
Buy Things In Season
The reason why berries are very affordable during the summer, and outrageously expensive in the colder months? There is much less supply versus demand and it’s a lot harder to grow out of season fruits in different weather conditions. So to save money, Annie Lawless, holistic health coach and Blawnde.com founder, suggests eating in season. Start here, using this essential list of The 21 Fall Foods That Melt Fat!
Pad Your Meals with Whole Grains and Beans
“Whole grains and legumes can be very inexpensive, but provide lots of filling protein and fiber that can really bulk up a meal for minimal cost,” says Lawless about one of our favorite weight loss tips. “When making burgers, soups, or casseroles, use less meat and incorporate more whole grains and beans.”
Plan and Prep in Advance
When you’re not prepared, you are much more likely to run to the store and buy pre-washed, chopped, and pre-cut foods that cost much more than making them yourself. “When you have no meal plans, it’s easy to feel rushed and desperate to grab something quick and your budget goes out the window,” says Lawless. “Arm yourself with some preparation so you don’t spend money unnecessarily in a pinch.” You’ll also be more likely to avoid fatty, processed foods. For other sneaky ways to melt fat fast, don’t miss these 20 Weight Loss Tricks You Haven't Tried!
Organize Your Kitchen
If your pantry and refrigerator are easy to navigate and you can clearly see what you have on hand, you can reduce a lot of food waste by utilizing the groceries you’ve already spent your hard earned money on. Lawless painfully reminds us that, “Nothing feels worse than opening a drawer in the fridge to realize you let beautiful fruit or veggies get moldy and have to throw them in the trash because you forgot they were in there!”
Love Your Leftovers
The beauty of cooking at home is the abundance of leftovers. And those leftovers mean tons of new meals you can create in the days ahead. “For example, if you have leftover turkey burgers, crumble one up into some scrambled eggs with spinach and feta cheese for breakfast. Or chop up last night’s roasted veggies and add them to your salad at lunch,” suggests Lawless. “Keeping leftovers at the front your fridge shelves helps you get creative when you are reminded they’re there.” For more sure-fire ways to lose your belly, don’t miss these 50 Best Ever Weight-Loss Secrets From Skinny People
Make Your List and Check It Twice
This is a simple, but profound rule of thumb. “If you don’t have a list, you will inevitably come home with lots of things you don’t really need,” says Lawless. “Plan the meals you want to make and buy only the things you need for those meals. This will also help you minimize buying junk food and snacks you just don’t need in your house.”
Buy in Bulk
“Bulk bins are a shopper’s best friend because you can cut out the cost of packaging and buy larger quantities for less,” suggests Lawless. “This is very handy for things like nuts, seeds, whole grains, and flours that are common kitchen staples you know you will always use up.” (We love buying oats for overnight oats.)
Order Iced Tea
When you’re dining out, nothing makes the bill double and even triple in size faster than glasses of wine and beer. So what to do? “Skip the alcohol, and stick with ice tea,” says Roland and Galina Denzel, coauthors of Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well: 52 Ways to Feel Better in a Week. “Use the dollars you save to get more veggies!” And you’ll lose weight, too. Editors at Eat This, Not That! found this to be true: Test panelists on The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse lost up to 10 pounds in one week!
Skip the Salad
Instead of a salad on your next dinner out, order a vegetable based appetizer such as Brussels sprouts with parmesan cheese or grilled veggies. “Those are often more reasonably priced and offer more hardy and nutrient dense veggies than the typical restaurant quality green salad,” says Roland and Galina Denzel.
Buy Grass-Fed Beef
“Ground grass fed beef is usually much more affordable than steaks,” says Roland and Galina Denzel. “Use it in meatball soup, meat loaves, chili and tacos.” For other healthy body hacks, read on the these 44 Ways to Lose 4 Inches of Body Fat!
Go for the Whole Chicken
Buy the whole chicken the next time you’re at the store—don’t be afraid of it! “The whole bird can go in a pot and make delicious stock for soup. All you need is to boil the whole chicken for about an hour. Take out of the pot and add veggies such as celery, carrots, potatoes and parsnip to make soup,” recommends Roland and Galina Denzel. “Then you can use the legs and wings for roasting, and chop up the breasts for tacos and salads other days of the week,” or make high protein snacks. “This can save you significant amounts of cash in the long run.”
Skip the Produce Section
Check the frozen section of your grocery store for the frozen version of higher priced produce items such as blueberries. “Often you will get ten times the amount for the same price and the nutrition is there, alongside the good taste,” says Roland and Galina Denzel. “Frozen fruit is great in smoothies and baked dishes.” Creamy. Chocolatly. Fruity. Green. Weight-loss has never been more delicious than with Zero Belly Smoothies!
Plant an Herb Garden
If you have a window sill, you can have your very own herb garden. “You don't need any skill and you will have easy access to fresh herbs like basil, thyme, oregano, chives, parsley and cilantro free most of the year,” says Roland and Galina Denzel. “Add to salads, sauces, soups and stews.”
Brown Bag It
As tempting as it is to go out to lunch with your co-workers everyday, it’s way less expensive to bring your own lunch. “Bring a portion of what you cooked for dinner and a piece of fresh fruit to save you real cash,” says health coach Talia Pollock, author of Party in My Plants. “That brown bag says you care about what you eat and how you feel.” And don’t stop there—melt even more fat using these 50 Best Weight Loss Tips—Ever!
Be Your Own Barista
Matcha lattes are not only one of the trendiest coffee shop drinks going around, but they're one of the healthiest which of course means one of the priciest. “The good news is that you can make healthy, antioxidant rich, caffeine-loaded matcha lattes at in your kitchen in just seconds,” says Pollock. (“Plus it'll probably be even healthier than the one you buy for six bucks at the shop.”) Here's exactly how you can make it!
If you’re going out to dinner with friends, take a look at the menu online before you leave. If you can plot out what you want to order ahead of time, it can help you avoid temptation and orderings things bad for your diet—and wallet. (And lose 10 pounds in the process.)
Get the Sandwich
If you’re eying a fish filet or steak entree at a fancier restaurant, check the sandwich section on the menu. “Oftentimes the fish fillet or meat that you’re eyeing comes as a sandwich for nearly half the price and you could always remove or ask for it without the bread,” suggests fitness expert Kelly Connolly. Speaking of bread, don’t miss this shocking list of 50 Little Things Making You Fatter and Fatter.
Show the Farmer’s Market Some Love
Buy your produce – fruit, veggies, eggs – from a local farmer’s market versus a grocery store. Not only will you save significantly—and have access to fruits and vegetables that you know are chemical free—but your food will last longer and you’ll find more of a selection such as pickled veggies, baba ghanoush and assorted fresh hummus and dips. “I buy all my produce from my local farmer’s market for under $100 that lasts me two weeks,” says Connolly. “Many farmer’s markets even sell pre-cut fruits and veggies for under $4, while nearby grocery stores sell less of a selection for $8 or more. Plus you’ll be supporting local which is always a bonus!”
Have the Big Ten on Hand
“Always try to have these ten alkaline foods in your refrigerator, as they serve as the foundation for many recipes,” says Dr. Daryl Gioffre, Founder of Alkamind. “Spinach, cucumbers, celery, avocado, red bell pepper, ginger, turmeric, kale, broccoli, and coconut milk. Not only are these my favorite alkaline superfoods, but if I have these in my fridge, I can make over 50 different recipes including smoothies, raw soups and hot soups, salads, stir fries, snacks, and entrees.” For more pro advice, click here for 40 Things Healthy Cooks Always Have in Their Kitchen!
Theme Your Week
When you go to the grocery store at the beginning of the week, choose a "theme" for your meals and stick to it. “It’s a secret way to keep your grocery bill down,” says Dr. Gioffre. “Whether your nightly dinners will have a Mexican flare or be Indian-inspired is up to you—you can have ample variety within that theme—but limiting the number of different ingredients and spices needed for the week is a great way to grocery shop on the cheap, and forces you to use up all your ingredients for the week rather than throwing out leftovers.”
For your non-perishable goods like pasta, peanut butter and beans—check online for sales. “Vitacost and Amazon are great websites for this,” recommends Staci Shacter MS RD LDN of the Carillon Miami Beach. Speaking of sales, shop here for the 21 Tools to Help You Lose Weight Fast!
Buy the Portions You Know You Need
Don’t waste food and throw things away! When it comes to fresh fruits and vegetables, we have a tendency to over-buy, and then we end up throwing them away. “Ultra-fresh items like greens and mushrooms should only be purchased in amounts that you know you will use them,” says Ken Immer of Culinary Health Solutions. “Test it out. See how much salad you actually eat in a few days. It’s probably less than it might look!”
Don’t Shop Hungry
“Even just a quick bite before going into the store can be enough to last for the time you’re in the store,” says Immer. Otherwise your stomach will dictate what you buy and you’ll surely buy things you don’t need, won’t use and shouldn’t have in the house to begin with.
Make Your Own Salad Dressing
Skip the bottled salad dressings and make your own. “Eating salad is a great way to get your veggies, but many bottled salad dressings are loaded with sugar, salt and other diet-sabotaging ingredients,” says Andrea Woroch, consumer and money-saving expert. “Instead, whip up your own batch of dressing. It's fresher, cheaper and tastier, plus you can easily shake it up in a jar and use a tablespoon to ensure portion sizes are kept in check. For example, simply combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper for a tangy, delicious dressing!” And then use it deliciously—click here for 18 Amazingly Clever Uses for Salad Dressing!
Say Sayonara to the Soda
“This is hard for a lot of people, but there is nothing beneficial that soda has to offer, even diet sodas,” says Ashvini Mashru, MA, RD, LDN. “Spend that money on some good produce instead. Pop a slice of cucumber, a wedge of lemon, or some mint leaves into your glass of ice water and enjoy. It might take some time, but go without soda for a while and see if your taste buds don’t start craving water instead.”