It can be hard to pick the best products at the grocery store.

Picture it. You are at the grocery store with your family. You need marinara sauce because you are making chicken parmesan. And you stand there in the aisle in front of thousands of jars and cans of sauce. You don’t know which one is the best.

You look at the writing on the front. And you look at the prices. Your kids are noisy and wiggly. There’s someone behind you waiting to get past. In the end, you just randomly grab one and go.

In my work as a dietitian, I’ve talked to thousands of people about food. I know people struggle with what to eat for dinner and which products to buy. It is confusing to be at the store and find THE BEST product.

Luckily there is no one best product. Just what’s best for you.

Feeling confused about which particular product to buy at the grocery store is COMMON and NORMAL. And there are a lot of reasons why you feel this way.

  • There are tons of products available. I usually shop at a supercenter because it is close to my house. They carry a lot of variations of the same products. It can be overwhelming.
  • There is little difference between the products. I mean, spaghetti sauce is spaghetti sauce. Comparing 2 products can feel as frustrating as those spot the difference photos. When a difference is found, then the next question is how much of a difference is it. It is hard to understand the significance and put the amount of the difference into proper context.
  • There is so much marketing gobbledygook on the front. It is designed to get you to buy the product, not give meaningful nutrition information that helps you decide between 2 products.

All of these issues make choosing the best product at the grocery store very frustrating. In a Consumer Reports survey, 5% of those surveyed left the store without purchasing the product they were shopping for because there were too many products from which to chose.

Since giving up on grocery shopping all together is more of a fantasy than something feasible, read on for some possibilities.

What you could do to pick the best products at the grocery store…

Read the nutrition facts panel

Ignore the marketing on the front and go straight to the nutrition facts on the products you are considering.

It is not necessary to look at the nutrition facts for every single food you’re buying. It can be very time consuming & overwhelming. Like everything else, the more you do it, the better and faster you get at it. So keep at it, knowing that it doesn’t have to be all at once.

To be realistic you could focus on a couple of specific items each time you go to the store. That way you’re not at the store all day reading every single label. I love this stuff, but I get to the point where I’m overwhelmed and feel like I have to get out of the store immediately. Give yourself permission to do a little at a time.

Keep it simple

Looking at the nutrition facts can be as simple as looking at what’s higher and what’s lower. I suggest picking up 2-3 varieties of the product you want to buy. Then comparing them, so you can pick the one that is higher in what you want more of (like unsaturated fat or fiber) and lower in what you less of (like saturated fat or sodium).

Decide if you like it
When you pick new products, pay attention to whether you like them or not. You don’t have to keep eating something you don’t like just because it’s healthy. Remember there are a ton of other products at the store from which to choose.

So, did you like the flavor? The texture? Did you have adequate time to prepare it? If not, try something else. Sometimes it looks like the perfect product according to the nutrition facts, but when you try it, you hate it. That’s ok. Don’t give up on the first try.

This whole process of finding the best products at the grocery store involves trial and error. You will make mistakes. You don’t have to keep eating something just because you bought it.

Prepare for some waste during this process or think of creative things to do with the products you test out, but don’t prefer. Learning what products are best for you is valuable. It will pay off in the long run.

Keep track

You could have a system to keep track of the best products at the grocery store. As you are trying out a lot of new products it can be hard to remember which ones you like and don’t like.

I often remember something, but I’m not sure if I’m remembering it because it was good or because it was bad. You might take notes so you don’t have to try to remember or even worse go through the whole decision-making process again.

It can be difficult to pick the best products at the grocery store. There are possibilities to make it easier. What could you try?


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