TikTok’s 6 to 1 Grocery Method: What You Need to Know

Trips to the supermarket can be fraught with unpleasant emotions, especially when you’re trying to keep the bill down as food costs rise while also purchasing nutrition-dense items.

According to a 2024 Axios survey, 59% of consumers feel some sort of negative reaction when shopping for groceries. Anger is most predominant, but anxiety and a sense of resignation are also common.

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So how can you shop efficiently for healthy food while keeping your stress level low? The answer may be found in the 6-to-1 grocery method, a new chef-created TikTok trend. Here’s what it is and how you may want to incorporate it into your life.

How the 6-to-1 Grocery Method Works

Chef Will Coleman, who has a dedicated follower base on TikTok, developed the 6-to-1 shopping method. The goal of his technique is to help people cut down on shopping confusion while saving money and make more nutritious meals without totally sacrificing luxuries.

On the surface, the premise is simple. Before you make your regular supermarket run, keep in mind that you will be buying six vegetables, five fruits, four proteins, three starches, two sauces or spreads and one item just for fun.

Have a general idea of what you’ll do with those items and how you might blend them into meals. For example, you may start with the proteins and build dishes with the other items you’ll be purchasing.

Maybe you decide that you will be purchasing two pounds of ground beef, one pack of four chicken breasts, a large container of firm tofu and a salmon filet. Then, consider how you’ll prepare them with the vegetables, starches and sauces.

It’s not necessarily recipe planning, but preparing for meal concepts. The difference is that you can change your mind about what you purchase when you get to the store. You may discover that some items that you didn’t plan for are on sale, so prepare to pivot.

What the 6-to-1 Shopping Method Misses

The 6-to-1 shopping method concentrates on the food basics, but it doesn’t account for other items that go into most peoples’ kitchens. Common staples like herbs and spices, sugar and honey, butter and oils, and beverages like teas and coffees are not included.

[READ: How Much Should I Spend on Groceries?]

Therefore if you need anything that falls outside of the system, you’ll be picking them up, too. And remember, this is just about food. Paper products, cleaning supplies and other household items are separate.

Additionally, there is a learning curve to the system. You may end up doing a fair amount of wondering about the items you choose. Nuts are high in protein but are they a “fun” food? What about corn, which is both a vegetable and a starch?

The list of questions goes on, but they can be an important part of the exercise. You’ll be thinking more about the food you consume, and refining what you buy to create better meals.

How the 6-to-1 Method Benefits Your Wallet

Once you get the hang of it, the 6-to-1 grocery shopping method can take the guesswork out of shopping and it can also save you money. That’s because fresh produce, which will comprise the most space in your shopping cart, is considerably cheaper than the majority of proteins, such as beef and chicken.

For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in U.S. cities in March 2024, white potatoes were 97 cents per pound, bananas were 62 cents per pound, USDA Choice sirloin steak was $11.54 per pound and a dozen eggs were $2.99.

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To make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck when you’re making a 6-to-1 shopping trip, money-saving expert Andrea Woroch says to price-check all prepackaged goods.

“Weigh bagged produce sold per unit to find one that weighs more without paying more,” Woroch says.

“The Fair Packaging and Labeling Act protects consumers from pricing deception and this says all bulk bags of produce priced per unit must weigh at least the amount advertised on the package and sometimes they weigh more. So just throw the bag on the produce scale to find one that weighs more,” she says.

And if you want to focus on organic food, there are ways to cut down on the elevated costs. Still, consider some traditionally grown items that have lower price points.

“Study The Clean Fifteen,” Woroch says. “These are 15 fruits and vegetables that are perfectly safe to eat nonorganic since they have tough inedible peels, according to the Environmental Working Group, and that means you can save while staying healthy and safe.”

Adapt the 6-to-1 Shopping Method to Meet Your Needs

According to Shane Finnegan, vice president of Jow, a meal planning and recipe app, the main benefit of the 6-to-1 technique is that it alleviates the confusion many consumers experience at the store while also achieving nutritional balance.

“It can streamline the shopping experience, especially when you’re trying to answer the question of what’s for dinner,” Finnegan says. “I think it’s good. With something like this you don’t need to go on a diet to be healthy. It also reduces food waste.”

However, Finnegan also warns there may be other issues involved with adhering to a fixed shopping plan. Enter the supermarket with an open mind. The 6-to-1 technique is meant to be flexible, so try not to be dictated by the list you developed before you went in.

Had a stir-fry in mind, but then you discovered that avocados are in season and are three for a dollar? That’s a deal you may not want to pass up, but it changes the direction of what you and your family may be eating that week. Don’t let that stop you.

“Going into the supermarket with a paper sheet of recipes can add mental strain, so it’s really important to be adaptable,” Finnegan says. The 6-to-1 concept can be counterproductive if you’re too rigid, then end up being wasteful, he adds.

“Don’t force yourself into getting the sixth vegetable when you really only need five,” Finnegan says. “Instead just make sure you’re getting a little of everything.” And that includes a special, but singular, treat.

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TikTok?s 6 to 1 Grocery Method: What You Need to Know originally appeared on usnews.com

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