It’s a well-known strategy that most dieting gurus peddle on a frequent basis the ‘don’t shop while hungry’ and ‘always shop with a list’ advice. But what other strategies could you put in place to up your game and ensure you become or stay a ‘loser’ when shopping for your WLS regime?
CONSIDER SHOPPING ONLINE
Sounds obvious but I’m not just talking about a weekly or monthly online shop for everything but something to consider for buying shelf-stable staples. You know the kind of things, oats, protein bars, canned tomatoes, dried fruit, canned beans and much more. Many of the big shopping sites like Amazon, My Protein, Safeway and Kroger have delivery programmes that offer great value and ensure that you don’t run out of those everyday items that make up the basis of your regime. They might even prevent you from making some junk food purchases you don’t need if they are at hand.
PLAN YOUR MEALS IN ADVANCE
Why not sit down with a pad and pen and consider what you are going to eat for the next few days at home or away, then figure out the meals you wish to make or eat and build your grocery list around these decisions. For thriftiness choose some meals with overlapping ingredients to prevent a pile-up of leftovers or half-used tins/packets and so cut down on food waste. Before you leave for the shops/market, check that list again by checking your cupboards, cabinets, fridge and freezer, striking off anything that you might find doubles up what you need.
STAY FOCUSED AND MINDFUL
I’m not saying that you have to plan your shop like a military operation but in all seriousness make this a determined ‘in and then out’ manoeuvre. It’s not the time to multi-task and browse the shelves if you’re determined not to be tricked into impulse buys and don’t be distracted by too many signs and requests to ‘sample’ produce. Idle browsing and chatting along with another shopper can also prove very distracting and can mean you come home without the one thing you really need!
BUY IN BULK
Only do this if a) they are items that you genuinely use regularly and can guarantee to use up before the use by date expires and b) the savings are really worth it and you won’t be tempted to eat more of this item simply because it’s there. I find a big-box store like Costco ideal for buying in bulk things like canned tuna, porridge oats, nuts and frozen fish.
MAKE FRIENDS AT THE MEAT AND FISH COUNTERS
I find the assistants at these most helpful if you make friends with them. Most will weigh a specially small quantity (that you can’t get pre-packaged) will butcher/gut/prepare produce to your exact requirements and even chop/mince or grind meat for extra leanness which saves you the chore later. Many also can advise on cooking times and methods as well as fore-warn you of any special deals that day or coming up. For example my local always has a special fish deal on Friday and a Saturday steak night special offer worth considering.
TIMING CAN BE EVERYTHING
Some stores have now become so huge that it takes at least an hour to navigate them – making small frequent trips to a more local and smaller store may well prove more time saving than you think. Otherwise get to know your big store layout very well and go to just the aisles you need and resist the urge to linger and stray into others when time is at a premium. I have found most of these aisles are on the periphery of the store but there will always be one that is deep inside (these store planners want you to stroll around) – locate it, bank it to your memory and hope and pray they don’t change it too often. Planning ahead like this and making a few more trips as opposed to massive occasional ones can help to ensure the food you purchase is super fresh and you’ll cut down or minimise on food wastage. Also, as a rider, do check out the produce at the back of a shelf, it is likely to have a longer expiration date than those positioned at the front.
CHECK OUT THE YELLOW STICKER FOODS
This is something I frequently do – delve through the discounted fresh food that needs to be sold that day and therefore can be marked down to a ‘silly’ price. However, don’t be tempted to buy everything there just because it’s cheap. Fine, buy all those tomatoes if you plan to batch-make a sauce immediately but don’t if they are still likely to be in the refrigerator staring at you accusingly at the end of the week. I often just select those foods that I know can be frozen and that way I can choose the time-scale of use.