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Shopping Smart: Grocery Store Tips

Posted on August 3, 2016 at 8:33 AM by Lia Bahls, RD

Have you ever noticed that when you arrive home from the grocery store you seem to have picked up a few unnecessary items? Think candy, soda, chips, cookies and other snack items. Do you regret purchasing these items? Most people do regret impulse purchases, but unlike clothing, you can’t return impulse food purchases, which leads to consumption of foods you otherwise would have avoided.


Now let’s consider what urged you to make these impulse buys. Perhaps it was because you had to walk through the entire store to get to the back where your food staples such as meats, dairy and eggs are shelved. Maybe it was when you had to walk past the bakery and the sweet smell enticed you to pick up a box of cookies. Maybe it could have occurred when you were getting ready to check out and grabbed a candy bar as you were waiting to checkout. However it happened, the store was able to convince you to purchase foods that were not on your grocery list.


Specific placement of certain foods at the grocery store leads to increased purchasing of these products generally due to impulse. These foods are typically higher in fat, sugar, and salt - all risk factors for chronic disease. Purchase leads to consumption, even if there was no intention to eat the product. Even the healthiest eater succumbs to this marketing strategy and, unless you walk around the store with blinders, there is no way to avoid these gimmicks. So are you doomed to always end up with unwanted food items? We like to think not. 


Listed below are some tips to help decrease the likelihood of purchasing these products:


  1. Make a list and FOLLOW it. This means that everything you need is on your list, so anything not on the list does, does not get put in the cart or purchased. Simple.


  1. Eat before you shop. Often we go to the grocery store when our stomachs are growling and everything looks good. Seriously, everything looks good. Later on when you arrive home and eat you’ll look at some of your purchases and wonder what you were thinking. The thing is, you weren’t thinking clearly, because you were too hungry to logically consider the items thrown into your cart. Eat a small, healthy snack before heading to the grocery store.


  1. Shop the perimeter. Avoid those inner aisles where the majority of processed foods are held.  This is not to say that you won’t run into unhealthy foods. The bakery is usually hanging out somewhere near the produce section along with the pre-made foods, but for the most part, your healthy foods are all on the perimeter.


What are some ways you avoid purchasing unnecessary or unhealthy foods? Share with us on Facebook!

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