Why I Hate Shopping For Food

May 21, 2014   33 Comments

Snack Girl has a wonderful job. She gets to set her own schedule and do what she loves.

Why I Hate Shopping For Food

If one of my kids is sick at school, I can go pick them up without fear of reprisal. My day consists of writing, marketing my book, talking to people about healthy eating, developing recipes, and grocery shopping.

Do you remember how in the sit-com Cheers everyone shouted “Norm!” when he walked in? At my local Stop & Shop, they shout “Lisa!”.

Yes, here I am AGAIN.

Before I get into the food aspect, one thing that I can’t stand is the lack of windows. It’s like Vegas in a grocery store -you lose all sense of time as you cruise up and down the aisles. Unfortunately, women in short-shorts don’t bring you drinks as you stand there mesmerized by the food labels.

The photo above was taken at Whole Foods right before the checkout lane. Ummm….why would I spend $3 on Organic candy bars when I could get 2 for $1 Snickers? Isn’t this supposed to be a healthy grocery store? I don’t care if it is “organic” – it is still candy.

Here is my local Stop & Shop at the end of an aisle:

Just what I need – Oreos! I manage to not put them in my cart but later in the day – I saw them here at Target:

I guess there was a push for people to buy Oreos from Nabisco. Notice the “Spring” flavor – do they taste like freshly mown grass? Or lilacs?

In case you didn’t know, companies pay supermarkets and big box stores for “product placement”. They know that if we see a food that we like over and over again, we are more inclined to buy it. It is a form of advertising but unlike the rule for bloggers (we must disclose if we take any money from an advertiser) – supermarkets don’t put a sign saying – “Oreos at the end of the aisle paid for by Nabisco”.

Finally, I will share this photo from Trader Joe’s:

Right at the check out, where you can’t miss them. Oh dear. They know my weakness!

My advice is to write down a list before you go and don’t stray from it. We call the desire to buy something that you don’t need the “Gimmes” in my house. I catch a serious case of the Give Me’s whenever I see those dark chocolate anythings at Trader Joe’s.

How do you deal with all the temptation at the supermarket?

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I hate grocery shopping! I hate it even more now that the stores are bigger and it takes longer to get through the isles. There are too many choices out there that become overwhelming. The prices are outrageous as well. I have a large family, and keeping the expense down and the nutrition up is more than challenging. I can not afford the big markup on organics. We do our best to eat well.

We on,y buy treats occasionally. When it comes to a sweet splurge, I go for the good stuff.

I don't buy cookies, they are so filled with junk! If I buy ice cream I buy an expensive less junk brand.

We are athletes over here, so the fat filled , sugar filled stuff is poision to our bodies!

Yet we all eat a lot. I think of food all day long!! My muscles are craving nutrition.

So we eat a lot of peanut butter around here!

And I graze on small bits of good chocolate...

Ok there I confessed the truth!

I try really hard to shop the outside isles of the grocery store. I try to leave the packaged, processed foods in the isles alone. I tell myself that I can make better cookies at home and to leave them on the shelf. This works most of the time.

Fridays are my shopping days, and I spend $300 a week on food. So I write up a shopping list with totals next to each item so my list comes up to $300. I bring CASH and leave my card at home (yeah, I am that weak) I also write my list after dinner, shop on a full stomach, and I do not bring my children, I need to concentrate :) Yeah, I got a touch of OCD, but I'm also a compulsive shopper, or was..

I have found that making a Sun-Sat list of what I plan to prepare to eat is really helpful. I post it on the fridge, so when the kids ask what's for supper, they can look themselves! :) Creating a weekly menu also cuts down on unnecessary purchases.

The trick for me is to just not buy whatever it tempting me today. Jelly beans at Easter have always been a danger, so I just tell myself "Not today. You can get them next time if you want, but not today." Usually, by the next time I shop, the impulse is long past and I forget what I wanted.

I write a list and try to stay to that list. It's just my husband & me. He is not health conscious so I do have the junk food, in the house. But I'm on WW and "try" to eat healthy. Sometimes I give in to the junk food.

I make a list and try to stick to it, but only allow myself a maximum of 2 things not on the list. The extras are not always junky snacks, sometimes it's a toy for my dog, or some new cosmetic item for me, or something for one of my kids. If I have already put two "extras" in my cart and I get to #3, I put one of the first two back. I also have a little "competition" with myself every week to make my shopping more interesting - my budget is $150, how closely can I get to that exact dollar amount? Or how much can I save this week? Or how fast can I get out of here today? Anything to make it a little fun. Been doing it for 27+ years, ya gotta keep it challenging.

I'm pretty strict about sticking to a list like most of you, tho like you mentioned Lisa, marketers put stuff right up in our faces all the time so I still might get tempted but here's my safeguard: I still read the ingredients! It's gotta pass my filters, no artificial, no ''natural'', no carmel coloring, no hfcs, etc., etc. Then, is it nutritious, or can I make it better? I've put back many a temptation and just sighed. Sadly most tastes from my youth will forever be just a memory because they just don't make them anymore. On the bright side, I've recreated quite a few treats in a healthier way!

Lot's of great ideas from everyone to help when grocery shopping, but I have to agree with the first person who wrote a comment. I also hate grocery shopping it's the worst job on the planet. What makes it even worse is my full time job is teaching nutrition and cooking skills to individuals in their home and in groups so I have to shop for my groups too, and teach them how to stretch their food dollars. It's like the carpenter who works all day and goes home and fixes nothing. So I really hate shopping. I do have a budget and a list that I follow right down to the letter. I plan my meals and snacks. Purchase my fruit and veggies first. Figure how many meals I can get out of boneless skinless chicken breast for example. I don't even go down the cookie/cracker isle. We have our favorite cereal and eat lots of oatmeal. If I want a cookie I prefer to make my own they taste better and I can put less sugar and fat in them plus I know whats in them. Then I can freeze half so we're not tempted. My husband gets his favorite bread at the bread store to help, 99 cents a loaf. I'm not a big bread eater so if I feel like having bread my grocery bakery bakes half loafs in whole wheat so I'll buy that on occasion. If I purchase a whole loaf to save money it ends up being spoiled because I just don't eat bread often so that would be a waste. It's just planning and getting out of the store as soon as possible. Of course the less time your in the less you buy. Hope these tips help.

This might only work on cities, but I live in Toronto and basically only order my groceries online ( This is a perfect way to eliminate impuluse purchases. Now it's true they still try to shove the impulse purchases at you, but it's much less intrusive and you can just easily click away. Highly recommend it. Not to mention it makes shopping super quick. Once you have ordered a few times, you have a list going, you just press click click click on what you need (I do still shop from a list), done in about 15 minutes, then I just have to be home during a two-hour delivery window (I work from home so this is easy for me).

Over the course of a year, I lost about 40 pounds, and now fight every day to keep it off. for me, not having certain foods in the house is how I do that. So, walking by things in the store is not really a problem for me. My biggest problem is the two men who live at my house - who like sweets. I try to only buy them things that I am not compulsive about. So, my list directs me to specific places and I don't walk every aisle of the store.

As a Nutritionist and a huge proponent of healthy eating and exercise I shop to fuel my body...I also shop the perimeter of any grocery store, purchase my fruits and veggies first then I go for protein rich foods...The only aisle I go down is the one with Old fashioned Oats as I eat Oatmeal with lots of Fruit and Almond Milk every day pretty much year round. Non fat plain greek yogurt with fruit is also for breakfast... Breakfast is my most nutrient dense meal and starts my day off right, especially after I have gotten up at sunrise to exercise 6 days a week. As a 50+ woman my exercise includes, Crossfit, spinning, swimming, biking, walking, yoga, pilates. Lunch is next with a huge salad with protein and fruit...A lighter dinner is the way that I eat. I love to grocery shop as I look at it as a challenge and could spend hours looking at labels etc. I do like to shop in quantity at a warehouse store as prices are cheaper. As a former "Sugar Addict" with 45 extra pounds on me, (lost those 6 years ago through WW and have maintained ever since) I am determined to feed my sweet tooth with fresh fruit which I seek also at local Farmers Markets...I have trigger foods that I cannot have in my house that are loaded with Fat and sugar, I don't buy them so that I am not tempted...Fresh produce at local farms are generally less expensive and taste great!!! And they are very filling...

Besides the budget being limited, my husband is diabetic(sans sweets). My big problem is Wegman's, they have everything plus!

I try to always eat something before entering the arena. I consider shopping to be entering a bit of a combat zone. A salesman once said to me that customers have HIS money in their pockets and his job is to get it back. So I am prepared to defend myself when shopping. I also stay to the perimeter of the store and buy mostly commodity items. I "try" to stay away from colorful packaging, but alas I am only human.

You have to eat before you go shopping. Make a list and stick to it!

I also try to stick to the outsides of the grocery store, hit the veggies and fruits first so I can find my "treat" there. Also, when I see those tempting, tempting treat deals, I remember that I am a superhero armed with knowledge! Those tempting deals have no power over me! I know they're full of things I don't want to eat! Defeated! (insert heroic superhero laughter here). It's silly but it works. :)

My Expiriration Date List IS My Shopping List

Also With My Current Inventory PENCilled In.

For Example ''Evaporated Milk 05/30/15 (Also

With Two Pencil Marks) Now I Know I Have Two Cans Of Evaporated Milk Expiring May 30 2015.''

When The Erasures Of The Invemtory Eventually Wreck The Paper I Simply Reprint My Expiration Date List.

Not Only Did It End The Confusion For Me It Also Allows Me To Plan Ahead.

For Those Whom Are Technically Inclined

My Inventory List Is Written In The Microsoft

Company's Windows Notepad Times News Roman 8

Point Pica Type (Small It Is A Huge List)

Landscape (Horizontal). An Added Plus

I Print My Local Spice List (In Times New Roman

9 Point Vettical) At The Back Of Page.

One more thought, :) I seldom do my big shopping at super-sized supermarkets anymore, [but when I do its like Kathy g. commented] For last 10+years, I shop mostly smaller Organic markets. It's been almost 20yrs but my family has slowly moved away from meat, my daughter has been a pescatarian for 20ys or more, the rest of us are almost there, so eating habits over here have made us healthier, happier, and shopping is easier! OMG, food is so much more exciting and adventuresome -we bond over new dishes! [they're in their 30's] For instance this week my daughter brought over a serving of homemade spaetzle with chard and purple carrots, so delicious! :)

My university job pays me monthly. So I usually shop once a month for groceries/household needs, though my hubbie will get items in between on his paychecks if needs arise.

Shopping has become crazy. One thing I found is that Target does provide some price relief on household items (like laundry detergents/household cleaning supplies/toilet paper/paper towels, etc.). Includnig Target, I usually go to 4 stores and get the best deals I can out of each. My meats I will only buy at a local meat store, I do not trust the chain stores for that.

We don't have an organic grocery within 2+ hours drive. I order some things online and buy the organic offerings at our store. We are diabetic so we stick to our list and don't buy much in the way of processed food. Hubby loves imitation crab and usually eats a small amount. The other night he ate more than usual and had gastric upset. After taking a closer look the label, I noticed sorbitol (a sugar alcohol) and a few other additives also known for gastric upset.

Where I normally read most of the labels, this one got by me because he loves it and never ate enough to have a problem.

I told him from now on it is the real thing but only after I read the label.

Many natural seafoods have astaxanthin, a powerful, fat soluable antioxidant that is evident with the pink colors such as in salmon and rainbow trout. Pink flamingos turn their pretty pink because of the astaxanthin in their diet. It is also present in crab, shrimp, crawfish, krill, red bell peppers and lobster.

It is 6000 times stronger than vitamin C and 550 times stronger than vitamin E.

Beta-carotene and other carotenoids: apricots, asparagus, beets, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, corn, green peppers, kale, mangoes, turnip and collard greens, nectarines, peaches, pink grapefruit, pumpkin, squash, spinach, sweet potato, tangerines, tomatoes, and watermelon."……

I shun Trader Joe's because there are treats at eye-level EVERYWHERE! I do not need a favorite TJ treat! In other stores I manage to avoid "those aisles" and avert my eyes when appropriate.

I never go to the grocery on an empty stomach. One sweet treat I love are the Go Raw Organic Chocolate Super Cookies. Buy them at Whole foods or online. I love your blog!

I salute all you people who can make and plan meals for a week. I decide what's on the menu about two hrs. before a meal. I make an ingredient list and run to market, more often than not I forget something. Once I was at the market three times in forty mins. I call this man shopping. lol

I agree with everyone, there's certainly ways around triggers at the grocery store, but isn't it nice to find solidarity in like-minded health-conscious eaters who are weary from negotiating the mine-field that is the American Shopping Excursion. Nearly every singly processed food is packed with additives and sneaky sugars and chemicals...So ok, you make your own food, stick to the outside aisles and "make it work". It's still far more time consuming and at times exhausting to keep your diet healthy and on track. Wouldn't it be nice if the bad men at Nabisco would leave us alone with their needless Oreo advertisements and let us shop in peace? But they have their job, and we have ours. Let's just call it for what it is, acknowledge the frustrations, and do it anyway because it's so worth it. :)

We grocery shop online. Do the big box stores every few weeks. Try hard to not stray from the list.

Just one more thought, ha-ha. Enjoy the comments, seems we're all trying in one way or another to avoid junk foods, so yay! I'm very lucky to have a health grocery store just 15mins away, small in size and jam-packed with alternative choices, no main-stream brands, plenty of bulk organics. I hope this the sign of things to come because our Foodworks market [Guilford, CT] has grown to 3 CT locations and 2 of them have moved to bigger buildings. Yes its expensive but everything I buy there is well-thought out, nothing is wasted, and they even have a rewards card. My closest small market, an IGA, is only good for a very few items, like detergent. I just detest being targeted by junk companies! Another reason I opted out of Comcast back in 2005. Oh here I go, getting on a rant again :)

Enjoyed all the comments. In my many years have only been to TJ a few times and never to WF, but I love to grocery shop. I am a vegetarian and sodium restricted only shop for myself. The glorious beautiful bounty of foods we have available just makes me happy to look at them all. I can remember when we only had many produce items available when they were in season today they are all available year round if you want to pay the price or buy frozen. We are fortunate to have such great foods available at all times.

One big problem I can see with some of the corporations pushing their sugar, fat and additives are that so many people depend on these corporations for their livelihood. Some of them are making changes but not fast enough to suit some of us. Education is key.

I used to love shopping, back before I was a label reader. Now I HATE it, and guess where I work? I supermarket! Marketing is a crazy animal, I see it in action every day.

I think I'm the only one who loves to grocery shop. I look at it as a way to get the healthy foods that we need to eat. I look at it as I'm only there for healthy stuff, don't bother looking at the unhealthy. If I am tempted I by a single serving item.

The one rule that i've taken away from various other stores (but i saw it first time here i think!) was the "shop AROUND the grocery store and avoid the middle aisle". There is SO MUCH junk all over the place in a grocery store it's ridiculous.

another thing that really helped was label reading. After reading some labels, i was surprised how much easier it was to put back a candy or a cereal - after all, the item ended up having like 20g of sugar, or maybe contains HFCS, or contains yellow late #2! When i imagine what i might put into my body, putting it back was more a relief than anything else.

I spend most of my time in the fresh veggie and fruit section as well as the fish and meats (and it's one of the reason Trader Joe's is actually kind of frustrating for me because i feel like their fresh food section seems so small compared to the aisles of packaged stuff. Yes their packaged stuff is organic and probably healthier than most, but it's still packaged!)

For those who needs help and have a smartphone, some kind of notepad app is essential. I use my ColorNote app on my android phone to make my shopping list and check them off as i go along. It not only keeps me focused at the store, but it also ensures I don't forget some ingredient and end up having to waste time driving back for it (and then buy a coke because i was already there). :D

@Kai, you are so right about all the junk food sold at the market. There are just huge aisles of candy and cereal. Nearly all cereals have a large amount of sugar. I was surprised to see that you mentioned buying a coke. Colas have phosphoric acid that erodes the enamel on the teeth. It is 10x more destructive than fruit juice. Almost as bad is the amount of sugar (65 grams) on one 20 ounce cola and more in some other sodas. If consumed, a straw should be used that offers a little protection and should be accompanied by food. This is an entirely destructive drink in my opinion.

I have stopped buying anything that I can easily make, e.g., salad dressing, sauces, spice mixes, etc. doing that saves $$, calories and tastes so much better. For staples, I try to shop sales with coupons. I am known for buying the "marked downs" esp. meat, as by doing so I can snare something delish for minimal cost - - i.e., yesterday i had to pick up a few items for work, and the market had their homemade sweet italian chicken sausage on 1/2 price, so I bought several packages. Put in fridge at work, and then in freezer at home, for future use. I also have a CSA and try to freeze items for later use.

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