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Jay Michael Snow, MD

Grocery Shopping Made Easy: How to Coordinate Your Trip

Do you dread having to go to the grocery store? It’s one of those necessary evils most adults must endure. It’s best to go in with a plan to make the trip as smooth as possible. Here are some tips to better prepare you for the nightmare that is grocery shopping. The most important effort you can make to ease the agony of grocery shopping is to make a list at home. Plan out the meals and snacks you’ll need for the week and organize your list to reflect the order you’ll shop for items in the store. Here’s an example:


  • List what you’ll need from the aisles first. This includes items such as low fat/low sugar condiments, spices, beverages with 5 calories or less a serving, and canned/frozen fruits and vegetables. Be careful with canned/frozen items. You want to look for canned vegetables that are low in sodium, canned fruits that are in light syrup or 100% fruit juice, and frozen vegetables that don’t come with a cream sauce.
  • Next, start working your way around the edges. Every store is different, so we’ll start at the dairy section. You want to aim for dairy products that are low-fat. Pay attention to the labels, though, because some low-fat products will sometimes be higher in sodium or sugar. Just be sure to read the labels to make the best decision or use the regular product in moderation.
  • Work your way down the edge and you may find yourself in the fresh meat section next. Choosing meats such as boneless, skinless chicken, turkey, and fish are going to be your leanest options. If choosing red meats, look for products that are closest to 100% lean. You’ll get more bang for your buck this way, too, because with meat that is 80/20, you’ll lose 20% of your product that comes off as fat. When buying cuts of meat, look for the words “round” or “loin” because these are also leaner than other cuts.
  • If you find yourself in the grain section next, we want you to look out for one thing…. WHOLE GRAINS. These types of grains are going to be much higher in fiber and keep you fuller for longer (which can help you lose weight!). Be careful with false advertising, because some brands will label their product as whole grain, but that might not be true! A good way to check is to look at the ingredient label. With a true whole grain product, the first ingredient should say WHOLE. You could also look at the fiber content. If it has less than 5% of your daily value for fiber, you may want to put that product back and find one that has close to 20% or higher.
  • Finally, let’s end in the produce section, since this is usually in the front section of most stores. That way you’ll end right next to where you need to check out! Although canned/frozen fruits and vegetables are convenient, fresh is best! If you’re worried about produce going bad before you get to using it, plan out your meals and snacks for the week so that you are going to the store knowing what kinds of fruits and vegetables you’ll need for the week and how much. You don’t have to buy these products in bulk; just get what you know you’ll use.

Preparation and planning can certainly put you on the right path when it comes to choosing whole, fresh foods. Avoid the aisles as much as you can to prevent splurging on processed foods such as chips, candy, snack cakes, and other high calorie snacks. You want to feel good about what’s in your shopping cart! Ask our dietitian for a shopping list that follows these guidelines to make your shopping trip a more positive experience.

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