Nutrition Articles

7 Secrets to Outsmart Your Supermarket

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

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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

  • The cheap supermarkets in my neighborhood each give out weekly pamphlets (digitally) for what's on offer, so I can make my lists accordingly. If I can I go shopping early in the morning, when there are no long queues; the waiting always seems to be amidst the tempting sweets, chips or beverages. - 6/27/2015 8:52:10 AM
  • I shop produce, meat, dairy on the edges of the store. I venture into the canned goods rarely these days for coffee, canned chilies (the green peppers for TexMex) and baking supplies for my own bread which I make from scratch to avoid preservatives for my family. Generally, I don't go over budget. - 5/5/2015 11:34:24 AM
  • Oh those enticing aromas from the bakery department really make me want those pastries and rolls! This is why my shopping cart cannot go there--- I avoid that department- period. I steer clear of the bakery zone! - 2/27/2015 3:14:18 PM
  • I don't agree with you Ethel! Of course we put bad food in our carts. It's us not the store doing it. I agree with you on that.

    I don't agree with healthy food not being tasty. I've made just as much delicious and tasty "health food" as I have junk food. I'll tell you what, the healthy stuff tastes a heck of a lot better. Does it taste like the candy and baked goods from the store, of course not. It's also not full of the carbs, calories and fats those have. You are entitled to your opinion but mine if my healthy snacks and foods taste just as good as the store made junk anyday! - 2/13/2015 11:38:05 AM
  • ETHELMERZ
    I'm not going to blame the store, good tasting things fall into my shopping cart because I WANT them there, it isn't the "clever marketing" really. Let's face it, so much of so called "healthy food" isn't that wonderful or extra tasty, that is why we eat the things we eat that are not so healthy. If healthy food tasted great and satisfied, we wouldn't need to be constantly nagged to eat it, as has been done for decades, to no real avail... face the truth of the matter. Do as best as you can, but don't blame the stores. - 1/30/2015 1:04:03 PM
  • I, too, have been doing this for awhile now. We have only one grocery store in my town and it's a big box. They spent five months remodeling the whole place and moved everything totally around. I'm sure they did that because they conducted the study you spoke about! Even though I had my list in hand, it took forever to find everything on that list. It forced me to look at everything they had in the store! Their mission was accomplished, I'm sure! Now that the remodeling is over, I'm still trying to figure out where things are. It's taking less time but it still forces me to look at things not on my list! Good thing I'm not all that tempted by the splashy displays and not into impulsive buying. I started a plan over a year ago to go over my grocery list two or three times before going to the store to make sure it only has what I need. I have found my grocery bill going down and less is going to waste! - 1/25/2015 9:09:27 AM
  • I've been doing this for awhile now and I love it. I hate going in the store, especially the big box. I save more time at a smaller grocery store, in and out quickly, after gathering my list. I stick to it too, because anymore will normally go to waste. If I don't have a plan for it, it most likely won't get used. I definitely see a drop in our the grocery bill weekly. - 1/25/2015 8:49:35 AM
  • 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

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