Shopping along the outside perimeter of the grocery store will often keep you closer to fresh, whole foods. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

Do you ever feel like you need a GPS to navigate the grocery store? Long aisles and large stores can be intimidating and distracting when trying to fill your cart.

Here are some tips on navigating the grocery store in a healthy and cost-efficient way.

Bring a list

Check things off with pen and paper or, if you’re tech-savvy, use a phone or tablet. This is also a great time to plan your meals ahead of time, adding only the ingredients you know you will need to your list.

FIFO—First In, First Out

This convenient acronym is a great reminder to always use the food you have at home first. Take quick stock of your fridge and pantry before adding food you have to the list. This will help cut down on the estimated $1,500 an average family of four loses to uneaten food.

Start with the perimeter

The perimeter of the store is the outside aisles. This is normally where fresh produce, meat and dairy products are found. These are staples of a diet that emphasizes whole foods.

Buy in bulk

Find a store that sells grains, nuts and seeds and dried beans in bulk. These are healthy eating staples at a lower price. Use this convenient chart to help you determine how long you can store these foods.

Use frozen and canned options

Frozen and canned produce can be just as healthful as fresh. Be sure to check the nutrition label to make sure you’re reaching for the unsweetened and low-sodium options.

Shop on a full stomach

Checkout lanes and endcaps filled with convenience foods are tempting on an empty stomach. Have a balanced meal or snack before shopping.

Go digital

If you have a hard time staying focused or you’re limited on time—or you’re on a budget—try using a grocery pickup option. Most stores offer this for free if you spend a minimum amount of money.

Skip the middle aisles

The aisles in the middle are normally filled with less nutritious convenience items. However, this can be where you find some canned items or dry pasta and grains. Know where you are headed in these aisles to avoid getting caught up in the other options.

Read labels

Don’t be fooled by misleading labels or catch-phrases. Low-fat items can have extra sugars added, while items marked “Made with whole grains” aren’t always the best whole-grain option.

Use convenient health foods

Healthy options can also be convenient, such as bagged salads, pre-sliced or frozen vegetables and fruits, microwavable grain pouches, low-sodium canned soups, healthy frozen meal options, canned beans, prepared hummus, tuna pouches and individual Greek yogurts. Use some of these staples for when you are unsure of what to buy.