6 to 1 Grocery Shopping Method: A Dietitian Explains What It Is

Think about the last time you went food shopping. Did you know what you were going to buy before entering the store? Did you pick up a few extra items that you didn’t really need? Did you spend more money than you wanted? These are all issues that can lead to stress during a trip to the market. According to the International Food Information Council’s 2023 Food & Health Survey, 76% of Americans say price is highly impactful on their decision to buy food and beverages, and 91% of Americans have noticed an increase in the overall cost of food and beverages. Besides cost being a driver of purchases, taste still ranks number one and healthfulness is important for 62% of Americans. Keeping all these factors in mind can make food shopping a less than positive experience.

Recently, Will Coleman, chef, TV personality and author of the e-book “One Stop Shop: 6 to 1 shopping and meal guide,” came up with an easier way to navigate the supermarket keeping all these factors in mind. And it’s going viral on social media! Coleman created the 6-to-1 grocery shopping method to help streamline his own grocery shopping experience as he was frustrated with spending excessive time in stores, wasting groceries and exceeding his budget. As such, Coleman developed this 6 to 1 method to simplify the process and address these challenges. Below is an overview of this method, the best way to carry it out and feedback from registered dietitians (including myself) regarding the healthfulness of using it.

The 6-to-1 Grocery Shopping Method

The purpose of this method is to head to the supermarket once a week (perhaps two for a larger family) and pick up all your groceries for the week without creating a shopping list. Instead of sticking to a predetermined list of ingredients from recipes, you choose to eat what you want to eat. This method also has you avoiding the annoying math you need to do to determine how many onions or peppers you need from the various recipes you selected. Plus, it helps minimize food waste and last-minute orders at your local fast food joint and helps avoid over shopping. This method also prioritizes whole ingredients and minimizes processed foods.

To use the 6-to-1 grocery shopping method, you purchase six vegetables, five fruits, four proteins, three starches, two sauces or spreads, and one fun treat. This method also allows you to get your food shopping done quickly and efficiently.

If you’re a beginner, Coleman suggests drawing inspiration for recipes from online content creators and bookmarking recipes you would like to try. Coleman’s inspiration for many of his recipes is his extensive travels and experimentation from his Brooklyn kitchen, which contribute to his creativity.

[See: How 16 Fruits Boost Your Health.]

Saving Money

Coleman suggests that processed foods are more expensive compared to purchasing whole foods like vegetables, which are cheap in comparison. He is also an advocate of canned vegetables or frozen fruits and vegetables, especially if it fits in your budget. Proteins, especially animal proteins, tend to be an expensive part of your food budget. Instead of purchasing more proteins than you need, limiting it at four (or some weeks you may need five) can help minimize food costs and avoid overbuying proteins.

[READ: Ways to Eat Well and Save Money at Home]

How to Use the 6 to 1 Grocery Method

Based on this method, your shopping cart could be filled with the following foods:

6 vegetables

Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, broccoli and cauliflower.

5 fruits

Frozen berries, pears, pineapple and mandarins.

4 proteins

Chicken breast, Greek yogurt, tofu and salmon.

3 starches

Quinoa, Jasmine rice and whole-wheat pasta.

2 sauces/spreads

Sweet chili marinade and pesto sauce.

1 fun treat

Bar of dark chocolate.

With these ingredients, you could make any of the following simple meals:

— Smoothie with frozen berries and Greek yogurt.

— Stir-fry using the sweet chili marinade, chicken, broccoli and bell peppers and served over rice

— Salad (with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and peppers) and stir-fry using the sweet chili marinade, tofu, broccoli and cauliflower and served over quinoa.

— Salad with lettuce, tomato, cucumber and peppers, baked salmon, quinoa and roasted broccoli and cauliflower.

— Whole-wheat pasta with chopped, steamed broccoli and bell peppers.

— Dessert: 1 ounce of dark chocolate.

— Snacks: pears, pineapple or mandarins.

Benefits of the 6 to 1 Grocery Method

Registered dietitian and cookbook author Dana Angelo White weighed in on this food shopping technique. “If this method makes it easier for folks to grocery shop and prepare healthy meals, I am all for it.” White says that it’s easy to get overwhelmed when shopping for food, and this template may help some shoppers take the guesswork out of what to buy each week.

To help utilize this method and try new fruits and veggies, “I would encourage shoppers to mix it up! Experiment with seasonal fruits and veggies set a goal to try a couple of new things each trip to the store; this method allows for flexibility and I would encourage shoppers to do just that!” exclaims White. In terms of saving money, White says that the impulse buys is where food shopping becomes costly and this method helps focus your shopping and minimize those impulse buys.

In addition, many diet plans have sweets and treats on the avoid list, which isn’t easy and designates foods as “good” and “bad.” Eating healthfully is not just about getting in your fruits and veggies but also about learning how to incorporate treats into your healthful diet. According to White, the inclusion of one fun thing helps “support moderation and can lead to more sustainable healthy changes.”

[SEE: Healthy Meals You Can Make in 10 Minutes.]

Cons of the 6 to 1 Grocery Method

As a registered dietitian, I think this method is a good “quick and dirty” start for folks who are looking to shop healthier. This method appears to be simple and promotes the consumption of fruits and veggies, but there are some drawbacks. For example, more more details are needed in order to better guide consumers. This includes how to fill your plate in order to set up a healthy, well-balanced diet, as purchasing food is only one part of the equation.

In addition, this method does not take into account individuals who have specific health conditions, such as people living with diabetes and folks with food allergies. As a registered dietitian who has seen clients in both a hospital and private setting and educated them in this area, I know that some individuals really need specific feedback and instructions on what to buy and what to cook especially based on their individual needs, preferences, cultural backgrounds, and the like.

Some folks like to plan their exact meals throughout the week, and that method works best for them. Although the Coleman created this method to be flexible, it may be tough for beginners or non-cooks to know what to do with the items they picked up at the market without having recipes or instructions in front of them. Some folks who are new in the kitchen don’t know how to toss ingredients together and may not have time to search for ideas and recipes during the hustle and bustle of a busy work week.

In addition, foods like tofu and cereal are on the NOVA Food Classification System of being the most processed (in group 4). Yet tofu is a wonderful plant-based protein that can also add calcium to the diet, which is an under-consumed mineral by folks of all life stages. Cereal — although some can be high in added sugar — also has been fortified in order to provide nutrients needed, is inexpensive and shelf-stable. Also, cereal is typically consumed with milk and fruit, like banana, which is a meal providing three food groups. With so many cereal options out there, you can certainly choose one that is lower in sugar. As such, it’s not about pitting processed verses whole foods, but rather having the knowledge of how they can complement each other in a healthy, balanced diet.

Bottom Line

The 6 to 1 grocery shopping method can be a great option to help navigate food shopping, get creative with your meals, save you money and avoid over-buying. However, the method may not be right for everyone.

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6 to 1 Grocery Shopping Method: A Dietitian Explains What It Is originally appeared on usnews.com

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