Money Saving Tip: Avoid Grocery Shopping Hungry

How Grocery Shopping Hungry Can Cost More and Result in Poor Food Choices.

Avoid grocery shopping hungry. This healthy money saving tip is fairly obvious, but, we sometimes need reminding of the obvious. I know I do. How many times have I gotten to the second store when grocery shopping and realized that I’m suddenly hungry? My last meal was several hours before, and now I’m needing a snack. I convince myself that I can power through this last store and that I will eat one of my delicious crunchy apples when I get home.

Needless to say, the thoughts of the apple become less sustaining as I work my way down the aisles. Before I know it, my cart is filled with far more than what’s on my grocery list – much of which is not healthy in the least. Now I’m not only making poor food choices, I’m going to be paying for my lack of foresight with my wallet and my health. Most people can relate at one time or another, which is why we’re focusing on why we shouldn’t go grocery shopping hungry. 

Photo of chips on shelves as an example of grocery shopping hungry

Grocery Shopping Hungry Costs More

Coming out of the store with more food than we intend when we go grocery shopping hungry makes sense. A 2018 study published in the journal NeuroImage set out to figure out why “The abundant exposure to food cues in our environment is one of the main drivers of overconsumption.” Participants were shown images of low and high calorie food when they hadn’t eaten and were hungry and when they had eaten and weren’t hungry. The study found that hunger induced greater brain activity while looking at images of high calorie foods than looking at the same images when the participants weren’t hungry. While more research needs to be done on how we act on this increased brain activity, the study clearly shows that our brain probably reacts differently when we’re surrounded by high calorie foods when we’re hungry. 

What I’ve found for me is this means that I’ll still put the healthy foods into my basket that I was planning on getting, but if I’m hungry, I’m also going to add in unhealthy, highly-processed, high calorie foods that I wasn’t planning on getting. I can easily add $10-$20 or more to my grocery bill in this way. 

Grocery Shopping Hungry Can Result in Poor Food Choices

The unhealthy, highly-processed, high calorie foods that I buy if I’m grocery shopping hungry are far different than what I would buy otherwise. If I’m hungry, I’ll go for the ready-made simple carbohydrates that will fill me up quickly and that will give me that quick energy boost. We’re talking chips, crackers and sometimes even cookies. In fact, the only time that I give the packages of Fudge Stripes a second glance these days is when I’m grocery shopping hungry. That’s a once beloved food that I no longer even want, except in this case. 

I want something that I can open as soon as I get back in the car, or if I’m really hungry, that I’ll open and eat as I finish my shopping. Very rarely do I rip open the bag of baby carrots and munch my way through the store if I’m hungry. 

Tips for Avoiding Grocery Shopping Hungry

So how can we avoid grocery shopping hungry? Here are some tips based on what I’ve found that works. 

  1. If you have multiple stops to make, take a snack with you. This could be a piece of fruit, some cut up vegetables or even a healthy-ish muffin. This way, you can sit in the car between stops and snack before you head in to the next store. If you know that you tend to get hungry at some point while you’re shopping, it’s important that you eat your snack whether you’re hungry or not. Going ahead and eating it will help prevent you from getting hungry. If you wait until you are hungry, it may be too late. What you brought may not seem appealing. 
  2. Eat a snack or meal at home before you shop. This means within 15-30 minutes of walking out the door. That way, you can make it through 2-3 stops at different stores.
  3. Take a water bottle with you to shop. Drinking water helps you to feel more full. If you sip on it as you’re going through the store, you can more easily keep your stomach and your brain satisfied. That will help you to pass by what might otherwise be tempting unhealthy choices. 

Being aware of the budgetary and health impacts of grocery shopping hungry can go a long way to making sure that you get in and out with the healthy foods that you had planned on and that there’s not a lot of unhealthy impulse buying along the way. 

Lean on Your Community

Do you have any other tricks for not grocery shopping hungry? If so, please share them in the comments below. 

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