Shopping at the grocery store can be overwhelming for many people. In the past, when people would give advice on how to shop at the grocery store, it would often involve the idea to “shop around the perimeter of the store”. While this may be a good idea in theory, it is not a realistic or sustainable way of purchasing foods. Let’s talk about what “shopping around the perimeter” means, and why it is no longer a thing that needs to be implemented for good health.
What is “Shopping Around the Perimeter”?
Shopping around the perimeter of the grocery store is based on the idea that foods found on the outside edges of the store are more conducive to health. Foods found around the perimeter include fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh meats, and dairy products. The main point behind this idea is to avoid prepackaged and processed foods that are found on the shelves. Foods found around the perimeter of the store are definitely nutritionally dense, however, you do not (and should not,) have to limit yourself to only the foods that are found here.
Why it’s Not Realistic
The idea that you should shop around the perimeter can be misconstrued for people to think that you can only eat foods from that area. The food that is located on the perimeter of the store is not the only food that you should be including in your diet. There are a plentiful amount of foods that can be found in the middle of the store that can and should be consumed on a daily basis to lead a balanced life. For example, many staple and healthy carbohydrate sources are found in the middle of the store, including bread, rice, quinoa, granola, etc. Similarly, instead of purchasing produce and meats, you can also purchase other options such as canned foods, as they are cheaper, self-stable and have just as much nutritional value as the fresh foods. As you can see, there are many nutritionally dense foods that can be found in the center of the store, so there is no reason to limit yourself to only those found on the perimeter.
Some of our favorite non-perimeter foods are:
- Black beans
- Canned tuna
- Brown rice
- Whole wheat pasta
- Frozen vegetables
- Frozen fruit
What to do Instead
We also do not want this idea of shopping around the perimeter to lead to restriction. Having a balance of nutritionally dense foods and foods that you enjoy is important in leading a healthy and happy lifestyle. Do not feel as though you cannot purchase any pre-packaged or processed foods on occasion. Foods found anywhere in the grocery store can be included in your diet. A balance of fresh produce, meats, and shelf-stable food products will be more beneficial to health than limiting yourself to only shopping around the perimeter of the store.
Go into the store with a game plan of what you need to make your grocery shopping easier, less stressful, and to spend less money.
If you’re looking to gain clarity in what to eat, how much you should be eating, and how to make your grocery shopping less stressful, check out our self-paced course Your Nourished Route today!
This article was written by Emma Bulan nutrition intern. Fact checked by Allison Tallman, RD.