Having a plan is vital to achieving your fitness goals. When it comes to treating your body right, there are two equally important types of plans: a workout schedule for your fitness center sessions and a meal plan to keep your nutrition and calorie consumption in line. In previous posts, we’ve discussed the importance of meal planning and provided some practical tips for how to do it. Now it’s time to discuss the next step in the process: grocery shopping with a meal plan.
Just as you need a meal plan, you need a shopping plan to keep it from turning into a time-consuming and frustrating experience (especially if you dislike grocery shopping in the first place!). Here are a few ways to streamline the process.
Make a list. It may seem obvious, but it’s too important not to include. To make it easier to compile your shopping list, first collect all your weekly recipes and meal plans in one place. A few apps you may want to try include Pepperplate, Paprika, or ZipList. Some of these allow you to automatically generate shopping lists based on your recipes. You may also want to organize items based on departments or the aisle system of the store you plan to shop at. Either way, it’s important to have a grocery list so you can get in and out of the store as quickly as possible without missing anything important.
Buy in bulk for items you’ll be using frequently. If you’re following a specific dietary plan, you may be eating many of the same foods repeatedly. In this case, it could save both time and money to purchase some items in bulk. The best items to buy in bulk are non-perishables with a long shelf life, but it ultimately depends on how quickly you plan to use them.
Don’t purchase perishable produce too far in advance. If you’re new to meal prepping, buying greens for two weeks-worth of salads might seem like a good idea. The catch is that green leafy stuff tends to go bad sooner than, say, broccoli or carrots. Keeping produce dry and cool will help, but unless you’re freezing it, buy produce in the right timing and portions that will stay fresh for the duration of your weekly menu.
Choose pre-packaged, pre-prepped foods sparingly. It’s tempting to avoid the task of chopping vegetables and fruits or mixing daily smoothies when there are pre-package and prepped options available at the grocery store. The catch is that these are pricier and less nutritious. Pre-cutting and canning vegetables destroys some of their vitamins, and prepared foods like smoothies usually require preservatives to keep them fresh. It’s fine to use these items for days you know your schedule will be too tight to prepare your meals, but try to use them as an exception and not the norm. If you must buy prepped foods, frozen fruit and veggies are better than canned.
Just like fitness gym workouts, meal planning, shopping, and prepping require discipline and a time commitment. But, once you start to see the payoff in your physical fitness and health – the results you’ve been working hard for — you’ll agree with us it’s worth it.