Shopping Lists Promote Healthier Choices

 
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If you want to cut down on impulse buying, save money and make better food choices, take a few minutes to plan a shopping list before you go to the supermarket.

why lists help

Researchers from Duke University, University of California and the University of Florida have confirmed what many of us always suspected: when faced with what to buy at the supermarket without a shopping list, the decision is “stimulus based.” This means we base our purchase on what is directly in front of us, regardless of whether we really need it or whether it’s good for us. And visiting certain aisles with no plan or limits can cause more damage in terms of the calories, fats and sugars you and your family will consume. Compare being a marketing target in a confectionary aisle versus a fresh produce aisle! Planning shopping lists is particularly important if you have children, if you are frail, live a busy lifestyle or if you are trying to manage a medical condition. It will save you time and reduce the anxiety associated with that frequently asked question shortly before mealtime: “What’s for dinner?”

how to plan and shop

1. Plan your meals a week in advance and compile a list of the items you will need to compile or cook your meals.

2. Most of your list should contain items for healthy meals and snack options; place a limit on the number and/or quantity of rich foods, such as cake, ice cream, potato chips or chocolate.

3. Look for “real” foods and those that are minimally processed—for example, 100 per cent juice or wholegrain bread.

4. Think variety: choose seasonal fruits and try new vegetables in your favourite recipes.

5. Organic foods are a great option but not the most economical. Either way, emphasise more plant foods, and less meats and full-fat dairy products in your trolley.

6. Don’t go shopping on an empty stomach—you are likely to buy more than you really need.

Click here for a recipe.

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Sue Radd is one of Australia's leading nutritionists and health communicators. She also advises law firms, providing expert nutrition reports for use in court cases.