Use the "Non-Grocery List" For Two Great Reasons
At some point before going to the grocery store, you probably jot down (or make some kind of mental note) about what you need to buy.
If you don't normally have any list, I recommend one. You typically want to have some sense of what you're going to eat for the upcoming week to make sure you'll have enough protein, veggies and variety of meals according to your preferences. This is key for meal prep.
But, it can also be super helpful to have a non-grocery list - aka the 'don't buy' list.
This does two things:
1. The non-grocery list includes food items that you already have enough of.
That way you don't come with a can of tomatoes, only to realise that you already have 3 cans in your pantry from two weeks ago when they were on sale. And you don't have enough space for the new one. Oops.
Particularly with fresh foods, this is key. It means less wasted food and less wasted money.
2. the non-grocery list gives you the opportunity to predetermine the foods that you don't want to buy at the store.
By thinking about this ahead of time, you won't need to use as much will power in the store. If you make a plan to avoid buying ice cream - no matter what - you'll be a lot better equipped to resist it. Even if you're staring down your favourite flavour (pralines and cream) through the display case. Even if it's on sale that week.
USE VISUALISATION TECHNIQUES TO PLAN SUCCESSFUL MEALS... AND grocery SHOPPING TRIPS
Athletes use techniques of planning, mental practice and visualisation to rehearse difficult scenarios ahead of time so they perform better when they're in the moment. This is a simple way to harness some of those techniques so you can perform better with your nutrition game. That ought help you buy (and eat) less unhealthy bon-bons, and that's a big win.
As with anything, remember that the key is consistent implementation. If you think this could help you, I challenge you to get in the habit of keeping a non-grocery list for the next 4-weeks. Before you go into any food/grocery store, write down what you don't want/need to buy. Even if you need to quickly scribble this down on a napkin or on your phone while you're sitting in the parking lot of the store, do it. See if it creates better outcomes for you, and if it does, commit to sticking with it.