Katy Beskow looks at how and why you should stay mindful while you’re in the supermarket.
1. Shop your cupboards
Before setting foot in the supermarket, have a good look through your store cupboards, fridge and freezer to see what you already have available. It’s a good idea at this point to create a weekly meal plan, using what you have in, to reduce food waste and your grocery shopping bill.
Create a shopping list of what extra you need to create the meals, then focus on sticking to it. Remind yourself that you are shopping for additional ingredients to support what you already have, in order to create wholesome meals, and stick to the list. It’s also a good idea to complete a supermarket shop after you have eaten a meal or snack, to avoid any impulse buys.
2. Location of essentials
Ever noticed that essentials such as bread, plant-milks and frozen essentials are often located at the back of the supermarkets? This means you must walk past dozens of ‘special offers’ and non-essential items you did not visit the supermarket to buy.
Sales psychologists are often employed by supermarkets to design the layout, in order to maximise profits – and leave you with a trolley full of non-essential products. Focus on holding your physical shopping list and use the overhead supermarket section dividers to direct you to which aisle you need to be in. This works as an effective distraction technique to avoid any non-essential purchases.
3. Shop seasonally
When shopping for fresh fruit and vegetables, aim to shop seasonally. Fresh produce in season has a better flavour, is cheaper and has likely travelled less distance to get on the shelf. Focus on the colours, aromas and quality of fruit and vegetables, and choose items that look appetising and appealing.
If you have an item on your list that does not look in good condition in the supermarket, switch it for an alternative; for example, switch onions for leeks, and bell peppers for sweet Ramiro peppers.
4. Special offer sins
We all love to get a good deal, but when is a special offer really not that special? If an item is not on your list, my advice is to not purchase the ‘special’ offer, as you don’t need it. If it is a non-perishable item such as tinned pulses or vegan-friendly toothpaste, and you have the space at home to store it, consider if the offer is a good use of your budget, right now.
Another way that you can end up mindlessly purchasing items you don’t need is browsing in the ‘best before’ sections, often found in the refrigerators. If an item is already on your shopping list, and you plan on using it in the next day, it is worth the savings. If not, the item is not needed, and this becomes an unnecessary purchase – it may even end up in your bin!
5. Shop vegan
Congratulations! As a vegan, you’re already making a conscious effort to look at what is in your food, where it has come from, and the processes involved in the manufacture. This step of broader thinking is a great way to incorporate mindfulness into your shopping, including the process of reading ingredients, place of manufacture and how ethical the parent company really is.
Purchasing decisions based on these factors allow you time and mind-space to consider if the product is worthy of a place in your store cupboard. Always remember to read the ingredients of ‘accidentally vegan’ manufactured products such as biscuits, snack bars and instant grains, as they can change from time to time.
6. Packaging pause
So, you’ve found the item on your shopping list, and it’s vegan friendly, hurrah! But have you considered how it is packaged? Most packaging is essential to the hygiene and quality integrity of the product, but it is also useful to think about what will happen to the packaging once the food item has been consumed. Is it readily recyclable in your local area? Can you re-use it for another purpose at home? Is there an alternative that is waste-free or has less plastic packaging? When purchasing a food item, remember that you are buying both the food and the packaging that surrounds it – and it is your responsibility to dispose of it responsibly for the environment. Choose wisely and mindfully.
7. Marketing hype
Supermarket products are often labelled with the words “natural” and “fresh”, but just how true is this in relation to the mass-produced food item? Take some time to look deeper into the food label, as bold statements are often used on the attractive front packaging. Check the label for hard to pronounce ingredients, consider how processed the food really is, and consider if this is an item you could make at home. Look beyond the key words of the product to find transparency for what you are really about to purchase.
8. Cash please!
Paying for your items in cash, rather than on a debit or credit card, will instantly connect you to the financial cost of your shopping. Removing the amount of cash from your wallet and counting it out will allow you some thinking time. Remember that it’s OK to put items back, or politely ask the cashier to do this for you. You are in control of what you buy in the supermarket, not a marketing campaign!
About the author
Katy Beskow is a cook, food writer and cookery tutor with a passion for good food. You’ll find her creating new recipes for her blog, demonstrating at food festivals, writing for magazines and teaching modern vegan cooking- so if you need her, she’ll be in the kitchen! Food is her number one love and she hopes to change the general perception of vegan food, by showcasing what is possible with seasonal and fresh foods. Katy now live in Yorkshire and cooks in her tiny, yet fully functional kitchen! Find Katy on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. www.katybeskow.com.