Your local grocery store can be a minefield when it comes to processed junk foods and sugary snacks that can break your food budget (and your health). And if you find it difficult to go grocery shopping without picking up at least a handful of items you didn’t initially intend to buy, it’s not entirely your fault.
Supermarkets are set up to make you buy the most profitable items for the store, which are usually not the items that are best for you and your family. From the moment you set foot inside, the store, from layout to lighting and even the music played, has been carefully designed to get you to spend more time and money.
This is why having a strategy in place will help you to navigate the supermarket so you leave with healthy food – nothing more, nothing less. This includes:
- Scout it Out: It’s a good idea to scout out your supermarket before a major shopping trip, especially if you move to a new area or are shopping in a different location than normal. Walk around the store and make mental notes of where your favorite sections are, such as produce, spices and grains.
- Know Where You’re Headed: When it’s time for an actual shopping trip, plan out which sections to visit ahead of time. Go right for them, resisting the urge to stop and browse along the way.
- Avoid Going Up and Down Each Aisle: Supermarkets love when you wander leisurely down each aisle, giving you all the more opportunity to succumb to your food cravings or children’s nagging. Because most people follow a right-to-left path, the right side of the aisle will generally have the most purchased and most profitable items.
- Look High and Low: The most profitable foods tend to be kept at eye-level on the shelves. Bulk items and lower-profit items will be toward the bottom while healthy foods tend to be at the top. You’ll generally find foods that give you better nutrition for less money just by avoiding the mid-level shelves and instead searching high and low.
- Ask Questions: If you can’t find what you’re looking for, ask an associate where it’s located. This will prevent you from aimlessly wandering the store, which you want to avoid at all costs to avoid making superfluous purchases.
- Don’t be Fooled by “Healthy” Labels: The term “healthy” on a food label means next to nothing, so be sure to read the ingredients and Nutrition Facts panel to find out what’s really in the food you’re buying.
- Bring Your Own Music: Classical music may influence you to spend more money while calm music with a moderate tempo may make you walk slower and ultimately spend more time in the store. To avoid the supermarket’s music marketing traps, put on your own headphones tuned to an upbeat song; it will make you walk faster and spend less time in the store.