Many of my clients find themselves in a quandary when it comes time to head into the Supermarket. A commitment to healthier living can be made or sabotaged when one steps into the grocery store.
Today’s article is meant to help you, not only survive, but become a regular Supermarket Superhero! Your energy levels will begin to increase, your health will improve and you will be supporting your commitment to healthier living.
1. Never, EVER, go to the store Hungry! Studies show we buy more groceries and are more prone to impulse buy when we are hungry. I have fallen into this trap more than once. I head out to the grocery to pick up a few things on my list, I get there and everything looks good and finds it way into my cart. Don’t fall for this one!
2. Find a store you like and get to know it, intimately. It is best NOT to pick a “superstore” for your weekly shopping – they have WAY too many things you don’t need. Learn the layout of your store so you know your way around – when you know where everything is you don’t need to spend extra time in the store going up and down extra aisles, being tempted to purchase foods you are trying to avoid.
3. Avoid the crowds. Busiest shopping times are 4-7 PM, and after church on Sundays. Monday & Tuesday seem to be the magic days with fewer shoppers to get in your way. Just like knowing your store, when you can get right in and right out, you are less likely to be tempted to purchase extra crap.
4. Be mindful, stay focused with a list. Mindfulness is the new buzz word, and very good one! Mindless eating & mindless shopping are our enemy. When we allow ourselves to drop into autopilot it begins to cause havoc on our new healthier choices and sabotages our attempts at staying on track.
5. Avoid the aisle-ways! All the “good foods” are on the outside perimeter. Fresh fruits & veggies, meats, fish, & your dairy products are outside the aisles. When you enter the dreaded aisles, you find all the highly processed foods… loaded with fat, salt & sugars. Only enter the aisles if you need to grab something on your list. (See item 4)
6. Not all sales are really good deals. For years I was tempted and coerced into buying foods I didn’t need and more food than I could eat due to good deals. Make sure it is a product on your list, and if it is perishable, don’t buy more than you can honestly use before it expires.
7. “Bulk” sale pricing can be tricky. Unless you need more, don’t buy more. When we have a BULK of foods, especially foods that aren’t good choices, we feel better about consuming more of them at a time. Many stores advertise 10 for $10 but that doesn’t mean you need to buy ALL 10 to get the discount. (unless the sign says otherwise)
8. End caps are good MARKETING and NOT deals. Stores know our habits. They know we will not be able to resist the attractive packaging on the displays and we will cave and buy whatever they put there thinking it’s a special bargain – when most time – it’s NOT.
9. Take the high road or the low – NOT the middle. When you find yourself needing to venture into an aisle know that the items at eye level are there on purpose. Manufacturers even pay fees to get their items placed there to optimize the fact you will see their products rather than others. Better bargains & healthier choices are frequently found on top or bottom shelves.
10. Compare labels – not all sour cream is alike. Generic & store brand items may be the same, but they may also NOT be the same. (See linked story on Sour Creams). Learn to read the Nutritional Labels, pay attention to ingredients.
11. Compare brands & check prices. All things being the same from tip 10, generic & store brand are usually cheaper. Make sure the prices on the shelf correspond to the correct item. Sometimes things get moved around.
12. Freshness is good – try the reach around. If the use by date or use by date on the product is too close for comfort, choose products from the BACK of the shelf. Stock is rotated to put the oldest up front so the mindless shopper will grab it first. When buying yogurt, ALWAYS check your expiration dates before you get to the cashier – save yourself some time. I usually grab my milk from the back of the bottom shelf – making sure the expiration date is later than all the others.
13. Shop to keep food safe and fresh. There are many tips to go with this one… Grocery shop last (don’t want frozen foods thawing), pay attention to sell by dates, grab frozen and refrigerated things LAST, bring insulated bags for cold stuff, bag cold stuff together, pack cold stuff in the car LAST so it is FIRST taken out at home and put away,
14. Resist the urge, just say no to check-out impulses! This is one of the reasons we don’t shop during peak crowd times. Don’t allow yourself to be tricked into grabbing that conveniently placed saboteur at the check-out lane. Sweet, tempting, poor choices are frequently placed right at the check-out just in case you have managed to avoid them the rest of your trip.
15. Ditch the plastic & go for paper. Money that is! Studies have shown people who use cash to pay for their purchases less likely to buy on impulse when they see how much it actually costs. Paying with a $100 bill is much more visual than swiping the card through the machine and punching in your card number.
Finally, the most expensive food out there is the food we throw away! Be very mindful about what you buy and how much you buy. No need to throw all that paper in the trash!
Make it a GREAT day… and Happy, Healthy Shopping all you Supermarket Heroes!