Everyone’s dinner plate should be 50% fruits and vegetables, which means that our shopping carts should also be half full of fresh fruits and vegetables each time we go to the store. However, this can be quite expensive. Plus, I have a bad habit of going in with healthy items in mind, but end up coming out with piles of cheap junk food instead.  Sometimes it’s hard to be an avid couponer and still manage to eat in a healthy way, but thankfully it’s totally possible with these five tips!

1. Shop the perimeter of the store for what you need

According to the Mayo Clinic, shopping the perimeter of the grocery store is one of the best ways to make healthy food purchase decisions. At my local grocery, if I circle the perimeter of the store, I enter at the produce section, circle around to the dairy and natural foods, then end with the meat department. Grocery stores put the necessities around the perimeters. This strategy encourages you to make additional purchases as you’re shopping the perimeter. Understanding how a grocery store stocks its store is essential to maintaining healthy shopping habits.

Bonus tip: Shop near the storage and loading dock area to save time. This is often where the freshest and most perishable food is located. Think of it this way—if the food goes bad quickly and constantly needs replenishment, the replacement foods are stored nearby loading areas for easier access. If you’re in a hurry it’s best to just go here and skip the rest.

2. Pay extra attention to food labels

A lot of people think foods that have 5 ingredients or less are what’s healthiest for you, but this is far from the actual truth. I often put 7-10 things in my salad each night—they’re all fresh ingredients and there’s nothing bad about them. Instead you should look at the label and ask yourself if you can buy, and know, every ingredient in that item. Tomatoes? Check. Garlic? Milk? Check. Acesulfame-K? Not so much. Skip on the item if you’re not familiar with everything that’s in it.

3. Ditch your shopping cart

It’s best to leave your shopping cart at the end of the aisle when shopping the center of the store. This technique will save you from impulse purchases on ready-to-eat foods in the middle of the store. Leave your shopping cart at the end of the aisle and step down the aisle to retrieve your purchases. This will keep you focused. Healthy foods such as dried beans, grains and nuts are located in the center aisles, but marketing strategies stack unhealthy foods around them. Here are the six best foods you can buy in the center of the store:

  • Dried or canned beans
  • Frozen fruits and vegetables
  • Dried herbs and spices
  • Vegetable oils
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts and nut butters

4. Get the Grocery IQ app

Grocery IQ sorts your grocery list by aisle and saves you a ton of time in the process. Sticking to a shopping list not only will save you money, but following a list will also keep you focused and limit your potentially unhealthy impulse purchases. This app helps you organize your grocery list by aisle so that you can get in and out of the store quickly. As a plus—it has a great coupon gallery that will only add to your healthy savings! It’s free for iOS and Android devices—get it here.

5. Get money back with BerryCart

If you don’t have BerryCart already, you can get it here. This app gives you money back just for buying those healthy foods you were going to buy anyway—just for uploading your receipt! It’s one great step towards money-saving, healthy eating!

5 Ways to Shop and Eat Healthy on a Budget