10 Simple Ways to Prevent Impulse Buying at the Grocery Store

grocery store deli shopping

I think we can all admit to being victims of impulse purchases while completing our weekly grocery shopping. Maybe the marketing was just too appealing, the sale too good, or the willpower too weak. Maybe you were just downright hangry. Whatever the case, these quick purchases are often the biggest culprits derailing us from our healthy eating goals. That’s why it’s important to resist as much as you can.

Here are 10 tips and tricks for preventing impulse purchases and staying on track during your next trip to the grocery store.

  1. Don’t shop for groceries when you’re hungry. We know this. But do we follow it? It’s almost a guarantee that if you shop for groceries while hungry you will end up buying items you don’t need to satisfy an immediate craving. When we’re really hungry we have a tendency to reach for convenience items, which aren’t always the most nutritious choices.
  2. Meal plan. Putting some thought into what you’re going to eat over the next few days or week will not only help you stick to a healthy diet, but prevent less waste of food and money.
  3. Make a list that goes along with your meal plan. Challenge yourself to stick to only the items on your list, no more. It’s not easy, but will definitely help you save time, money, and calories!
  4. Include 1-2 “indulgent” items on your list. Making a list isn’t about depriving yourself of everything that falls in the “treat” category. Any food can be incorporated into a healthy, balanced diet in moderation. Having a healthy relationship with food means putting no foods in the “forbidden” category.
  5. Shop with a friend or partner who can hold you accountable. If you’re lacking willpower to stick to your list on your own, ask someone to tag along on your trip to the grocery store. It may also make your trip more efficient if they help!
  6. Limit your shopping to a certain dollar amount and pay in cash. It’s so easy to throw extra items in the cart and exceed your calorie and cost budget when you’re swiping a credit card. By only bringing a set amount in bills to the store you are more likely to buy only what you truly need to complete your meal plan.
  7. Try out a grocery delivery service. Trips to the store may still be too tempting. So try a service! You select your items online and are given a chance to review your cart. There’s little opportunity to get suckered into fancy packaging (as long as you don’t click around too much!) or buying things just because they’re on sale or on your path.
  8. Spend most of your time on the exterior of the store, and little time in the interior. While it may be possible to impulse-purchase two pounds of broccoli, it’s far less likely than nutritionally inferior packaged goods like cookies or chips that you’ll find in the middle aisles.
  9. Give yourself a time limit. Rather than spending your entire weekend morning doing the grocery shopping, get in and get out. You have a list, so beeline it to these items and spend less them wandering aisles!
  10. Go to a grocery store that offers everything you need, therefore limiting your exposure to impulse purchases. This one-stop-shop approach will save you time in addition to preventing impulse buying.

You can do it! Find even more guidance about shopping the perimeter, reading labels, and shopping on a budget in “How to Grocery Shop & Save.”

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Carly Sippel is a registered yoga teacher, certified life coach, and nutrition nut. She has a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Dietetics from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She turns her passion into practice, promoting healthy bodies in both her personal and professional life.