How to shop smart and save big (dollars and calories) – by guest expert Amanda Clark Adv APDExpert Examiner — By Emma Stirling on February 16, 2012 at 2:39 pm
Have you had a hard look at your shopping habits lately? In our New Year post we talked about shaking up your food shopping for good health. And so it’s timely that we bring you more tips on savvy shopping and introduce you to another expert dietitian:
Amanda Clark is an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian with 25 years experience. Amanda runs a busy private practice Great Ideas in Nutrition, in Queensland, Australia. She is the creator of Portion Perfection, a visual weight control plan that guides you on the exact amounts to eat if you want to lose or maintain weight.
Shop smart and save big
With supermarket prices at an all time high and obesity rates skyrocketing (it’s estimated 73% of Australians will be overweight or obese by 2025. This includes one-third of our children and three-quarters of our adult population) it makes sense to tighten your financial belt both at the checkout and when it comes to your waistline.
Saving money at the supermarket checkout and keeping your diet under control go hand in hand. It’s easy to be tempted by “extra” foods you don’t really need to buy. Extra foods can add hundreds of unwanted calories to your daily intake, contributing towards weight gain and adding a hefty amount to your shopping bill.
How to be supermarket savvy?
It’s really very easy, all you need is some forward planning and insight into the tricks of the supermarket trade.
Focus on the outside perimeters of the supermarket – that’s where you find the basic foods like fruit and vegetables, dairy products and meat. Processed foods will always cost more.
Skip the aisles with lollies, biscuits and soft drinks – these are luxury calories, calories you don’t need. But you can have something little if you really want it and you budget for it. If it’s not in your calorie or financial budget don’t risk looking.
Supermarkets know the eye level and reach level for our children – either standing or in the trolley. So keep children busy by giving them their own little shopping list, from the healthy food aisles.
Choose a checkout lane without snacks on display – research shows that there is a good chance of impulse buying at the checkout that’s why there is always something deliciously tempting on display.
Create a list before you leave and plan your menus from a healthy cookbook (for a range of dietitian-recommended books check out my list) – sticking to your list will not only save money and calories, it will also save time. Save a template or checklist on an app or your computer of all the things you need at the supermarket so you don’t have to re-write the same list every time.
Stock up on low calorie staples and buy in bulk when your regular items are on special – good quality mince meat is not so expensive when you get the portion size right. 100g of lean mince could cost about $1.00. Rice, pasta and sweet potato are low cost carbohydrate choices. Iceberg or whole lettuces give you more for your money than the pre-washed and bagged salad leaves. Choose vegetables on special and in season to fill half your plate.
Shop for home brands – some home brand items are just as good as the higher priced brand named products. Pasta, rice and canned tomatoes are good examples of this.
Once you’ve become a savvy shopper you’ll have a fridge and pantry full of healthy options. Then you only need to learn how to prepare the right amount to eat (unless you are cooking in bulk to freeze later). How often do you find leftovers lurking in the back of the fridge in no fit state to eat? Or eat until you are uncomfortably full because you want to finish everything on your plate?
If you get your portions right, it’s a win, win situation. You lose (or maintain weight) and save money.
My recommendation of the ideal proportion for a balanced meal is ¼ carbohydrate foods to ¼ protein foods and ½ salads and low-starch vegetables. At Portion Perfection we’ve done all the calculations so you can get the portions right no matter what you eat. Our visual weight control plan shows you exactly the right amount to eat if you want to lose or maintain weight. It has hundreds of pictures showing popular packaged foods, including almost every brand of yoghurt, cereal, muesli bar and crisps available in Australia, as well as common take-away foods. There’s also a Portion Perfection plate and bowl to help you serve up the right amount and a handy Australian Healthy Snack Bible to take to the supermarket to identify the right packaged products. All the Portion Perfection products are available at www.greatideas.net.au
Thanks Amanda. Portion control is so important as you say and it’s certainly not about going hungry. Readers may be interested in our video post on Dr Brian Wansink’s research on portion size cues and crockery and glassware sizes too. I think there are some excellent foods in the middle aisles like raw nuts and wholegrain cereals, but we can easily skip other aisles most times. In fact this year I’m spending more time outside the big supermarkets, stay tuned for news on how you can get involved dear readers, in The #UrbanForage Files real soon. Love to hear your tips too on how to shop savvy and control portions below? Or perhaps you have a question for Amanda?