Healthy groceries for less: How to save at the supermarket
You’ve probably heard the familiar solution to overspending and overindulging during a trip to the grocery store: Write a list and stick to it. While that may sound easy, staying true to that list is often not as simple as it seems. With aisles full of tempting and pricey products, even the most well-thought-out, healthy shopping list can be forgotten. In fact, a recent study found that nine out of 10 shoppers purchase items not included on their initial list.
Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to become a savvier shopper, keeping both your budget and waistline lean.
Know where to look. There is a reason why “sticking to the perimeter” is one of the most-discussed smart shopping tips. In the sections that make up the edge of the store, you’ll often find the freshest choices, like meat, seafood, dairy and produce. The inner aisles often contain more expensive and less healthy options, like sugary beverages, prepackaged meals and salty snacks. If you must venture down these interior sections, remember to look up and down to the hard-to-see shelves. The middle ones generally house the priciest selections.
Shop at the right time. Timing is everything, and the optimal time to shop for groceries is after you’ve eaten, when your mind is less likely to be tempted by conveniently placed sweet treats or aromas from the bakery. It’s also beneficial to avoid shopping the same day you get paid; the illusion of excess cash can make you more comfortable reaching for those pricey snacks.
Stick with the cart. Whether you realize it or not, the way you collect groceries at the store influences your ability to stick to a list. You may think that using a small hand-held basket is the way to go–the less space limits overbuying. But research has shown that shopping with a basket may actually increase the odds of veering off course for unhealthy, impulse purchases (you hate the strain of carrying the heavy load so you seek out something to lift your mood). Next time you’re at the store, ditch the basket in favor of the traditional cart and you’ll leave with healthier fare.
Don’t let coupons fool you. While couponing is a good way for savvy shoppers to save on their favorite items, you have to use coupons smartly. Only use coupons for items that are already on your list and that are healthy. Half off baby spinach is great. Half off a six-pack of cupcakes? Not so much. And while we’re on the subject, beware of “two for the price of one deals.” Upon closer examination, many of these discounts are per unit, meaning you don’t need to purchase two items to get the lower price.
Photo credit: riekhavoc