Nutrition Articles

7 Secrets to Outsmart Your Supermarket

Look Past the Super Marketing to Protect Your Wallet and Your Waistline

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By Sarah Haan, Registered Dietitian         
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Outsmart Checkout Impulses
And the last, but certainly not least dangerous contact point between you and your supermarket's products is the checkout lane. Fully stocked with sugary, salty and saturated fatty snacks, these grab-n-go items can pack a punch when it comes to piling on empty calories. Along with the plethora of candy situated in the checkout aisle are cold sodas, foamy fountain drinks, salty trail mixes and magazines touting the latest weight-loss craze. You can easily add hundreds of calories and a few extra bucks to your bill in the minutes you spend checking out. Battle plan: Flip through a magazine you know you won't buy, chat with the person standing behind you in line, organize your groceries perfectly on the conveyor belt—anything to keep your hand from wandering to those impulse purchases. If you haven’t eaten in hours and you don’t think you can make it home, plan ahead and purchase an extra piece of fruit to eat on your ride home.

Focus first when it comes to grocery shopping. Be mindful and make your moves with intention to keep impulses at bay. Many times, our habits drive our purchase decisions and "wants" trump "needs." Making a list, sticking to it, and questioning yourself each time an "extra" almost lands in your cart will not only save you a pretty penny, but will also keep your healthy living habits on track.
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About The Author

Sarah Haan Sarah Haan
Sarah is a registered dietitian with a bachelor's degree in dietetics. She helps individuals adopt healthy lifestyles and manage their weight. An avid exerciser and cook, Sarah likes to run, lift weights and eat good food. See all of Sarah's articles.

Member Comments

  • FIGUEROA33
    I'm on a strict budget so there is no room for extras. - 3/8/2016 7:08:17 PM
  • I'm on a strict financial budget as well as a caloric budget so I go grocery shopping for what is essential, not what catches the eye. Moving is costly and moving across the country 3000km is even more costly! I have to save for what matters and what I might want, if not necessary, is not going to be purchased! I find I stick to my plan better if I don't have a list but carry it in my head because then I am focused on what I'm looking for rather than other things. I've switched from chips to nuts for snack food and bought lots of fresh veggies and fruits on my last shopping trip so I can make my own soups instead of using canned soups. - 3/7/2016 9:21:48 AM
  • I always tell myself if I want cookies, I have to put it on the list. If it's not on the list before I enter the store, I'm not getting it. Then as I pass by the cookies, I tell myself you can have them next week if you put them on the list. I never remember to. As long as I go to the store ALONE, I get only what's on the list. People in my house have been hunting for junk food that's not there. LOL! - 2/25/2016 8:57:30 AM
  • It helps that we plan our meals on a weekly basis so I know what I NEED to buy. I don't pass up bargains but don't get tempted by foods that are not healthy and might sit on the shelf at home - 2/20/2016 10:41:37 AM
  • I have learned to shop the outside shelves, when shopping. I do down to check out items, usually the outside shelves work for me. Today I needed to go shop just for meat, proud of myself, I just bought meat and nothing else. - 1/11/2016 4:46:35 PM
  • I quit clipping coupons when I realized the best ones were for the worst foods, and they started requiring multiple items. - 1/10/2016 1:49:07 PM
  • DANDYLINES
    My first principle in shopping: you can't eat it if you do not buy it. We managed 95% of the time not to buy it.
    My BIL sold to grocery stores chains for years. He taught me all the tricks of the trade years ago. We now go with a list and almost always stick to it. The only normal exception is when I find a bargain on good foods that I was not planning on getting. I do not ever go down the snack aisles.
    I do allow myself also to experiment with a new salad oil or vinegar right now or maybe a tasty sauce for meat.
    I have learned to read the labels and look for my :no-nos" like high fructuous corn syrup. It takes practice but it works. - 1/8/2016 10:07:57 AM
  • MS_GODDESS
    I've been blessed with a great amount of will power (for the most part), but if I have to stop at the store on my way home from work, I usually have to do battle against the smell of fried chicken! But at least I'm prepared for it - which I think is a big part of winning the war! Then I can just run in for what I came for and head out again. No wandering around the aisles tempting myself. - 1/7/2016 10:28:59 AM
  • When you live a 30 miles from the major grocery stores you usually never leave home without a list and an idea of what you are going to make for the week. When a trip to the store includes an hour of driving time planning is important. Once a week is plenty for me.
    Also the tip to stay on the outside perimeter of the store keeps you in the fresh items area and less likely to buy premade items. - 1/7/2016 9:57:33 AM
  • It's no accident that, in my supermarket, the closest route to the produce leads through the bakery. Last time I went with a list, stuck to it, and was amazed to notice that about 90% of the displays were high calorie, low nutrient foods. - 1/7/2016 9:45:20 AM
  • I plan and use a list, but I also know what's healthy and what's not, I also know a good deal when I see it.
    If the green bean casserole ingredients are on the end cap I pick up a couple of cans of green beans cheap. They'll last a year.
    This week after the holidays, canned pumpkin was half price.. that is a great healthy food for soups, or pancakes. If you're smart about it and have room you can save money in the long run and have healthy meals.

    - 1/4/2016 11:46:44 PM
  • Is it on your list? Yes - get it. No - don't get it. Simple as that, really. Don't blame the supermarket because you can't exercise a little willpower and take personal responsibility for your choices.

    Also, the tiny little nibble of something that you get as a free sample is not going to hurt you or throw you off the wagon... And who actually buys anything they've had a sample of? I think I have like, once, maybe? - 1/4/2016 7:05:44 AM
  • If I go to the grocery store with a list, I seem to see and choose many other things along the way. When I go with thoughts, but not a list, of what I want to buy, I'm usually only looking for those items, and ignore the end of aisle and checkout items. For me, a case of not being so well organized has helped in that I don't buy things I had no intention of buying, although I often have to return to some aisles more than once. But I view this as a good thing as I'm not getting unnecessary snacks, thereby eating healthier, and I end up walking a lot more. So I salute these grocery stores in being consistent in how they arrange the aisles and perimeters. - 12/14/2015 11:39:43 PM
  • It's a good article, a sure help guide. - 11/6/2015 9:51:56 PM
  • JOALLIE
    great article.
    - 10/2/2015 11:55:48 AM

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