“How can you afford to not eat healthy?” That’s my response when someone tells me they can’t eat healthy because of a tight budget. The financial, emotional, and painful cost to your body by not eating healthy will far outweigh (excuse the pun) any outlay for healthy eating. Learning how to substitute dollars spent on wasted calories for dollars spent on nutritious foods is the first step in eating nutritionally and staying on a food budget.
Check Your Grocery Basket
Since nutrition and healthy eating is my passion, I often glance into fellow shopper’s grocery baskets to see how they are spending their hard-earned dollars. It makes me sad when I see cases of soft drinks/beer, bags of chips, boxes of cookies, donuts, hi-sugar cereal—junk food. . . empty calories . . .wasted dollars . . . illness inducing non-essentials piled high in shopping carts. Filler not food. What comes to mind is the verse I shared last month:
Why do you spend your money on junk food, your hard-earned cash on cotton candy? Listen to me, listen well: Eat only the best, fill yourself with only the finest. Pay attention, come close now, listen carefully to my life-giving, life-nourishing words. Isaiah 55:2-5 The Message
God wants us to consider why we waste our hard-earned money on bad-for-us junk food instead of wisely allocating it to buy good-for-us healthy food! Maybe we get a few moments comfort or pleasure while eating junk food; but after the last bite, we’re often enveloped in guilt and shame for eating something we shouldn’t and wasting our money. Consumers buy many wasted calories—it’s like throwing money in the trash. Worse yet, money spent on food that actually harms your body. What sense (or dollars-and-cents sense) does that make?
Ways to Eliminate Impulse Buying
- Set a budget for how much you can spend each week and commit to using that amount only to buy food your body needs, not wants.
- Make a weekly grocery list of nutritious foods essential to your family’s good health that fits into you budget.
- Commit to buying only what’s on that grocery list.
Grocery stores don’t help with this discipline or commitment. Their marketing goal is to lure and tempt you into impulse purchases that eat up your food budget on items nonessential to life.
Grocery Story Traps
Take your “nutritional needs” grocery list with you shopping. At the store, observe the following five traps awaiting you. Armed with knowledge, you’ll be a wise and prudent shopper.
Trap #1—Entrance area. Markets call this the “chill zone” and design and decorate it to help you visualize fun eating. For example, cartons of soda and bags of chips for an impromptu barbecue or beach outing.
Trap #2—Produce department. Usually near the front of the store because shopping for healthy food makes you feel less guilty indulging in unhealthy food elsewhere. Buy produce last and only buy what you need for that week. On top of the cart, it’s also safer from bruising.
Trap #3—Specials. If you would pay full price because it’s something you need on your list, buying on sale is a good deal. If not, skip it.
Trap #4—Strategic placement. Markets display impulse products such as snacks, candy, cookies, and soft drinks at ends of aisles and at checkout stands. They’re counting on catching your, or your child’s, attention.
Trap #5—Buried products. Grocers shelve popular items in the middle of an aisle so you have to pass other enticing products. Also, most processed foods are on the inner aisles. Do most of your shopping on the periphery of the store.
Trap #6—Buying multiples to get the sale price. For example “3 for $5.00.” Unless it states you must buy three to get the sale price, you can buy just one and still get the sale price, in this case $1.67.
Trap # 7—Coupons. Couponing has become very popular and some women know how to get a cart of groceries for a low price, BUT often coupons are for unhealthy foods and foods you would not normally buy. Remember last month’s blog on reading labels. Even if the store is giving it away, if the product contains ingredients you shouldn’t put in your body, or it’s not on your healthy grocery list, don’t put it in your cart.
Don’t these grocery store marketing tactics make you feel manipulated? Grocery stores are in the business of making money, and they’re not watching out for your nutritional health or your finances. If you only put in your cart what’s on your “healthy” grocery list, you can afford to eat healthy. Don’t be fooled.
In the spring and summer months, local Farmer’s Markets are a great place to buy local fruit and produce at lower prices and avoid the tempting grocery store aisles. I also buy from Bountiful Baskets Food-Co-op, which even comes to our little mountain town every two weeks. For $15.00, you get a large quantity of fruits and vegetables, and for $10.00 extra, you can get all organic. I buy the organic basket year round. Check to see if there is one in your area. My Organic Bountiful Basket
Dear Father, please help me in applying all I have learned. Help me make wise choices in how I earn and spend my money. Teach me Your ways and don’t let me be fooled by worldly enticements. Help me love my body like You love my body. Amen
*Portions of this blog taken from God’s Best for Your Life. Share other grocery store traps you observe on your shopping trips.