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Meal planning, preparation, part 2

October 8, 2018
Amanda Bohlen , MOV Parent

It's 5 p.m. and you just got off work. You're too tired to go home and fix dinner but your budget won't allow you to swing through a drive thru. What are you going to do?

This scenario happens often in our fast-paced life. Your answer is simple: meal planning and preparation.

With busy schedules, we tend to eat out more and neglect proper nutrition at times. Meal planning and preparation will help you forgo the drive-thru line.

Let's continue on in our three part series on cost and time saving measures for your grocery store trips. The three areas discussed are before shopping, during shopping, and after shopping.

In case you missed last month's article on before shopping, here's a quick recap:

Now that you have your menu planned out, your grocery list made, and your grocery coupons clipped or added to your store card lets head to the store!

Cost and Time Saving Tips During Shopping

Shop on a full stomach. My cardinal rule is never go to the grocery store hungry. In the past when I would go to the store hungry, I would think everything sounded good. I would buy items not on my list. I was mostly tempted to buy unhealthy items. I wanted all the high fat, high carbohydrate snacks that were not good for my health. Adding all of those extra items was also not good for my budget. I was paying for additional food that wasn't even needed. Save your waistline, and your budget, and eat before shopping.

Shop when you have time and energy. If you are exhausted from a busy day at work, you can have trouble staying focused on making wise choices. If you are in a hurry or are stressed you are more tempted to grab unhealthy convenience items to get out of the store quickly. There are so many choices that you can become very overwhelmed quickly. Make sure you are in the right mindset before walking through the doors to the store.

Shop the perimeter of the store. Most of your whole foods can be found along the perimeter while the more processed foods are within the aisles. Spend the most of your time in the produce section. In most stores, this is the first area you come to and often times the largest. Picking a rainbow of colorful fruits and vegetables will ensure you are getting different vitamins and minerals.

Make sure you are buy "real" foods, such as 100 percent whole grain, 100 percent fruit juice or items with as little processing and as few additives as possible.

Compare unit prices to see if another brand or form of food cost less than others do. Most stores now have their unit prices next to the price for the whole item. Take time to look the prices over and consider whether it's more economical to buy the item fresh, frozen or canned versus name brand or off brand.

Look up and look down on the shelves. Companies pay a higher price to have their item stocked at eye level. Sometimes you can find better deals on items that are stored on the top or lower shelf. Items that are towards the bottom shelf are often geared towards children so you may notice more colorful packaging or labels with popular characters on them and might not be less expensive as the items on the middle shelf.

Amanda Bohlen is the new family and consumer science educator for The Ohio State University Extension in Washington County. She received her bachelor's in family and consumer science education from Ohio University and her master's in curriculum and instruction from Ohio Valley University. For the last seven years she has been in the classroom teaching high school students' financial education, child development, nutrition and culinary skills.



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