Nutrition Articles

7 Secrets to Outsmart Your Supermarket

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


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

  • Very good read. I hate shopping. Following this advice article will even shorten my time in the store! YEAH!!! - 11/1/2014 9:06:01 AM
  • JICAMA19
    I will never leave home without my shopping list. - 8/13/2014 8:41:14 PM
  • All really good suggestions. - 7/23/2014 6:31:23 AM
  • WBROWN205
    Aldi is where I shop and mostly use their own brands, and with a double your money back guarantee, I feel economically wise shopping here - 7/22/2014 10:55:43 AM
  • My mantras: "Buy what you USE, not what you need". and "A purchase made in anticipation of use is not an impulse purchase." PLUS all the good tips in the article and comments. - 11/21/2013 9:41:25 AM
  • I am always amazed at how Americans can't turn down anything free. Free samples are their weakness. When I'm in the grocery store and someone asks me if I want a free sample, saying "No thank you" makes their brain nearly explode from confusion.

    - 11/21/2013 9:33:00 AM
  • Great article! I use several of these tips, especially DO NOT SHOP WITH AN EMPTY STOMACH! For whatever reason, the few times I do so, I magically go about $20 over budget.

    End caps and the check-outs are a killer for me usually, but I've gotten better. Last week, I was able to say NO to both pumpkin-spice cookies and hot-chocolate cake mix. I felt like a total boss walking out of the store with my budget intact. - 11/21/2013 8:59:14 AM
  • I agree with AZURE-SKY. I go early in the morning and I go in the week. I don't like shopping on the week - 7/3/2013 8:30:27 AM
  • yep if you are really needing to or good about saving money that helps. keeps me from over spending on extra stuff i dont want/need like 90% of the time. i learn more and more as i gain experiences what store has better prices for which items i need. im glad im not extremely poor but i definitely dont need to waste money on extraneous items not on my list. also ive noticed with fresh stuff or certain veggies they are cheapest in their non packaged form. i love getting my carrots/kale/garl
    ic etc usually all under a dollar depending on how much i want :) - 6/5/2013 2:47:21 AM
    One way to avoid the samples is to not go on the busy shopping days (Saturday or Sunday) or if you can't avoid those days, go early in the day and you won't find them. - 6/4/2013 11:56:59 AM
  • one way i plan ahead, is getting all the fliers, sales papers and checking who has the best bargain on certain items, making a list and going on a full tummy....i do not buy party favors, etc, the dolled up paper plates and napkins, a trip to the dollar tree, everything for a dollar if i am in need of anything like that.
    stock up on fruits and veggies at the road side market or farmers markets, that way you arent tempted by the bakery and bread items that are placed along the aisles as you make your way to the produce section in most groceries.. i fell for tricks like these, but, i ended up with stuff i would never use and threw away, my family was the worst to cook enough cookout food for 35 people, when there was only 8 maybe 12 ppl there to eat.
    go in with list in hand, full tummy, and wear your blinders, dont look to the left or the right, focus straight ahead - 6/3/2013 5:04:58 PM
  • Im not sure where Esperi is shopping, but I see this in every supermarket I go to in Spain (Ive lived here for 13 years now). Anyhow, you cant blame supermarkets for their marketing tactics. They are, after all, running a business and there to make as much profit as possible. I think theyre actually very clever. We just need to shop smart and stay focussed! - 6/2/2013 4:58:33 AM
    I circle the outside aisles of the grocery store and only go down aisles if there is something there on my list. I also don't go to fancy grocery stores...they design the store to make food more appetizing...I stick to the basic store and I spend less. I budget for $50 a week per person and we always have lots to eat. I keep a grocery jar too where money is put in on a bi-weekly basis and if you take money out you put back the change with the receipt. It works ! Shop alone...sometimes I take my husband but things have a way of jumping into the cart behind my back...that is sometimes the price to pay for him bagging my groceries for me. - 3/19/2013 10:50:09 AM
  • My favorite strategy for shopping without spending or eating too much is to carry a basket vs use a cart. It's an incredible work out too! It really shows you the consequences of your own actions. I still impulse buy, but I have to put SOME thought into it, because if it weighs the basket down too much or fills it too much, I can't carry the basket anymore and have to lose some items. - 12/5/2012 1:40:21 PM
  • I must say that here in Spain this does not exist. In Sweden the last meters to the cashier always was filled with snacks and sweets but here those things stay in there aisle and you have to go there to get them.
    There is only one small shelf in front of the checkout for an offer which is very often fabric softener, bread or potato...
    LOVE SPAIN!!! - 5/11/2012 3:53:56 AM

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