Grocery Shopping Hacks for the Rest of Us
Grocery shopping might seem like a simple enough task, but the second you walk into many supermarkets, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by options and spend more time and money than you originally planned.
Flashy packaging, strategically placed product displays, and sales on products you may never actually use all serve as distractions that keep you in the store longer and can run up your total grocery bill.
Get supermarket smart by saving time (and money) in the grocery store, and learn how to pack your cart with superfoods. Start with these grocery store hacks:
Plan Your Shopping Route
Most grocery stores follow a familiar floor plan, with perishable goods like produce, dairy, meats and seafood around the outside edges of the store where they can be easily displayed while under refrigeration.
This is where you should buy most of your food, except for bulk items like whole grains, which are usually located elsewhere.
Stick to the edges and shop clockwise around the store, but beware of some processed treats that have started showing up along store perimeters and on endcaps, the displays at the end of the aisle reserved for product promotions.
Supermarkets have become savvy to the perimeter-rule and have slowly started sneaking some packaged goods into these areas, which were previously reserved for fresh produce and whole foods only.
Make a Shopping List & Stick with It
Save both time and money by making an organized shopping list and sticking to it. Categorize your list by grocery store departments like produce, dairy, etc.
Put the sections in order according to the layout of your store, if possible. That way, it’ll be easier to grab everything you need from each section of the store without reading through your list several times or retracing any steps.
What should be on your shopping list? Start with healthy pantry staples and in-season produce, then think about which healthy recipes you plan to make that week and add missing ingredients to your list.
Pick up some superfood snack options too, like berries and nuts, so you will be less likely to snack on unhealthy foods.
Compare Unit Pricing & Check Bulk Pricing
Most pricing labels list both unit and retail prices. Since the same types of foods from different brands may come in different container sizes, retail pricing can be misleading.
Compare unit prices instead of retail prices to make sure you're getting the best deal. Also, some items are available in bulk at significant savings.
Look High & Low on Shelves
There’s a reason some products are at eye level and others are harder to find: companies pay supermarkets for prime product placement, both for you and any little ones that may be riding in your cart.
In turn, with companies vying for this prime shelf space, the price of those products can be more expensive than similar products placed outside of the prime shelf areas. Check the top and bottom shelves to find foods that are just as nutritious, but with a smaller price tag.
Remember that sometimes store brands can offer more significant savings with equal nutritional value.
Time Your Trip
Want to speed through your shopping list and get the freshest foods? Avoid crowds by shopping during the least busy times.
Peak times are usually between 4pm and 6pm on weekdays, and weekends are bustling all day long, especially Saturdays. Grocery stores are usually less busy before 8am and after 6pm, but your store may vary.
If your priority is buying the freshest foods, do your grocery shopping during midmorning. That’s when perishable items like produce, meats, seafood, dairy and bakery items are typically restocked with fresh goods.
Your store might be on a different schedule, so check with your the customer service counter to find out when they restock perishables.
Use Your Smartphone
Get supermarket smart with your smartphone. Take photos of your fridge and pantry before you leave so you never need to wonder if you already have something at home.
You can also use your smartphone to check store circulars or compare prices at other locations to find the best deals.
Some smartphone apps let you scan the barcodes of items, so when you're running low, scan the product’s barcode to add it to a shopping list on your phone. You can also make categorized shopping lists right on your phone and save your bonus cards in your phone so you don’t need to carry them with you all the time to take advantage of store discounts.
Free grocery list and meal planning apps, like Favado, Bring!, Out of Milk and Grocery Pal can help you make grocery lists, find items on sale and track coupons from your local stores.
Everyday Superfoods to Buy
Superfoods are everyday foods that are particularly nutrient-rich and good for you. These foods should be staples on your grocery list.
Here are some of the best everyday superfoods you can buy:
- Beans - a great source of protein, complex carbs, fiber and loaded with vitamins and minerals.
- Salmon - one of the best sources of healthy fats, provides omega-3 fatty acids
- Blueberries - power-packed with vitamin C, potassium, phytochemicals and antioxidants
- Nuts - high in amino acids, protein, healthy fats and fiber
- Sweet potatoes - contain vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, potassium and dietary fiber
- Leafy greens - sources of iron, calcium and beta-carotene
- Vegetables - eat a colorful assortment of veggies to reap the benefits of the most nutrient-rich foods under the sun
To help fill nutrient gaps in your diet, get more real food nutrients from Swanson Health’s line of vitamins and minerals from real food sources, like our Real Food Multi Women’s Daily and Real Food B-Complex.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.