How To Grocery Shop Like A French Woman

There are countless books and articles that tell us “French women don’t get fat”

And while that’s probably not the truth, there is a truth in this: french women (and the French in general) have a different approach to meals than their American counterparts.

There’s a sophisticated obsession with how French women eat – because more often than not, they seem to make mealtimes look effortless. And they seem to be reasonably healthy.

While Americans tend to calorie count, do portion control, work out after eating, and publicly  feel guilty about “cheat meals”.

“Ugh, had some wine today. My trainer told me I need to go work out. So here I am!” *snaps IG story in the gym*

In France, it’s not as important or as publicly seen. People do work out. They do portion controls – you just won’t see it.

But today I want to share with you the first step of the French Woman’s meal plan. It all starts with grocery shopping.

The French woman approaches grocery shopping strategically. Here’s how you can grocery shop like a French woman.



Buy Little But More Often

This can be tricky if you live in a food desert, but French women buy little and often. They do not have memberships to stores like Sam’s Club or Costco. Mainly because French refrigerators are not as big as American ones. My aunts refrigerator in France was literally a pull out drawer. She stored fresh food only.

It may start with your fridge (consider downsizing and get something like this), but this can easily be achieved as to not waste food.

A lot of food purchased in bulk gets unconsumed.



No Preservatives

Another reason French women don’t buy in bulk is because they opt in for preservative free food, which is healthier and better for you.

In France, people are very health conscious and eat mostly fresh foods at every meal that needs to be cooked.

So instead of choosing those vegetable stir fry’s, why not buy fresh and organic vegetables instead?


Meal Plan Before You Go

The French woman doesn’t wander around the grocery store thinking “what should I buy?”. She knows what she is buying. She has a mental list in her head of all the ingredients she may need. Because she has already meal planned – for maximum efficiency and to reduce costs.

She may roam around the wine aisle a bit, but that’s to be expected – you never know what new thing you may find there.


Utilize Farmers Markets

If you can, go to fresh produce centers and local farmers markets. Most markets in France are outdoors and a lot of French women like to shop there – to get fresh food but to also support her community.

Why not take a grocery tote or basket and wake up early on a Saturday morning to see all the wonderful fresh foods for sale. You’ll know they support a family and will be the highest quality for you to consume.



Buy Well Balanced

If meal planning is not for you and you’re more the type who likes to go to the grocery store and “stock up” here’s my advice for you: when buying food, think about being well balanced.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are a must. So is making sure they are not only fresh but organic.

Skip the snack aisle and think about what you can replace sugary snacks with: instead of ice cream, what about dark chocolate? Instead of Doritos, what about rice chips?


Make It An Experience With The Whole Family

Grocery shopping does not have to be this “ordeal” that many families face together. If you have young children, I highly suggest reading this book: Bringing Up Bebe, which gives some insight about French parenting techniques.

One of the suggestions is making experiences together, including the little events like grocery shopping. Have it be a family affair: take to your significant others, take your children, take your parents…think about the foods you would like to cook and eat together.

Grocery shopping should be a happy and relaxed event – not a stressful one. If you approach shopping for food as stressful, I can’t imagine how stressful cooking and eating it may be. Why not allow for some kindness and fun into your meal making routine? Begin with the shopping.


Behind The Blog

The Petite Bijou is an online destination featuring wholesome yet sophisticated living and styling tips for women. The site is run by the family and friends of survivor, lifestyle influencer, and writer Mariam, who passed away in the summer of 2020.  Mariam also hosted The Bijou Show, a self help podcast.

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Leave a Comment


  1. Emma wrote:

    Hi, I am a french women and even if I really appreciate this article I would like to add a few precisions regarding the way french people shop, cook and eat food. French people considers meal time as a real break and use this time to recenter themselves and enjoy their food (and indirectly life^^). It doesn’t have to be 2 hours (as I saw in a lot of us articles), only half an hour can be enough If you took the time to prepare your meal earlier. Then, our daily meals is really about fresh and seasonal food and we avoid as much as possible industrial/process food or fast food. Personally I considere seasonal vegetables before everything else and I create my meal around one or two for exemple. It doesn’t have to be very elaborate, an omelette with some steam veg is already a good start!
    Also we have three real meals a day (and we don’t do portions) but it’s about eating only what you need but also enough so you don’t have to snack between meals. So no crackers, no soda, no sweets! We prefere dry fruits instead, a piece of cheese and maybe a glass of wine and that’s all for aperitif (so not before 7 pm!) 😊

    Posted 4.4.21 Reply
    • Editor wrote:

      Thank you for your insightful comments and feedback.

      Posted 4.7.21 Reply
  2. Jenny Demke wrote:

    Just finished reading “Waking up in Paris” by Sonia Choquette. Loved it and am now curious and amped to try Paris and French style

    Posted 2.21.21 Reply
    • Editor wrote:

      Thank you for visiting The Petite Bijou! I hope you find other useful articles on our blog. We hoped to get more French lifestyle contributors in the near future.

      Posted 2.21.21 Reply
  3. Denise wrote:

    I love everything French! I am so glad I found your blog.

    Posted 12.12.20 Reply
    • Editor wrote:

      Thank you for discovering The Petite Bijou and we are glad you enjoyed this article.

      Posted 12.13.20 Reply
  4. Ida wrote:

    Love French lifestyle

    Posted 9.12.20 Reply
  5. miki wrote:

    Super useful post! I really adore French lifestyle !

    Posted 6.22.20 Reply
  6. Lilly wrote:

    I love your articles!

    Posted 6.20.20 Reply
  7. Babongile wrote:

    J’adore France

    Posted 5.5.20 Reply
  8. Lelana wrote:

    Americans, and I am one, don’t have a successful relationship with food. I hate grocery shopping. It’s true, we stock up….why?
    Small tasty fresh meals, with wine, calls to me….I am converting🤗

    Posted 3.3.20 Reply
  9. Victoria wrote:

    Love it, the french have it under control.

    Posted 2.29.20 Reply
  10. Ruthanne Braha wrote:

    My husband and I are retired and must learn to downsize our cooking and shopping. We were a family of 6. I love your article and hope to hear more from “ petite bijou” !

    Posted 2.3.20 Reply
  11. This is true. French people enjoy very good, fresh food. They eat healthy, and practice portion control. Plus, to go to the market each day, they walk or ride a bike. And, they actually take time to savour the food and cook well. A typical French meal can take hours, but it has less calories than in the USA, for example. Nobody does bread better, but the typical French person doesn’t eat only bread.

    Posted 1.16.20 Reply