June 28, 2013

3 things to never do in a grocery store

1. Don’t choose items from the Middle Kingdom
Items placed at eye level catch your attention first. Retailers are wise to this and typically place the most expensive items front and centre on the middle shelves.

For better prices, shift your focus: check out the top and bottom shelves. Similarly, the middle aisles are usually the ones filled with convenience foods and packaged goods. Stick to the perimeter of the store for your fruits, vegetables, meat, fish and fresh bread. Venture into specific middle aisles only on an as-needed basis. The common tactic of strolling up and down every aisle just to see if there’s anything you need is a recipe for overspending.

2. Don’t give in to the kid factor
When confronted with a toddler meltdown, you might be willing to buy anything just to stop the madness. Kids of all ages (spouses, too, occasionally) can be a challenge in grocery stores.

They distract you from your list and the prices of the items you are choosing. They get impatient, leading you to start throwing items in your cart just to get the job done. And sometimes they throw their own highly processed, over-priced favourites into the cart as well.

If you can, try to shop without the kids until they are at an age at which you can make the trip an educational and interactive experience, teaching them about food choices and price comparisons.

3. Don’t shop when you’re hungry
It’s incredible how a craving for Doritos can sneak up on you. You leave the office or finish up at the gym and you stop at the supermarket to look for ideas for dinner. By the time you get to the checkout, you’ve got all the ingredients to make a heap of baked nachos, a frozen pizza and duck à l’orange with crème brûlée for dessert. Plus two new kinds of breakfast cereal and a box of fat-free chocolate coconut bars. Hungry much?

When you’re starving, everything looks good and just the suggestion of a certain dish can stimulate an instant craving. If you find yourself stuck having to go to the supermarket on an empty stomach, grab a (lower-priced) energy bar to munch on while you shop — you can pay for it with your other groceries.