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How to Shop at the Supermarket

July 2019

We all know how to shop at the supermarket. Walk in. Buy what you need. Leave. Simples. Or is it? As much as I advocate for buying fresh produce, we’re all not immune to heading to the supermarket to buy food. I understand the convenience, everything is under one roof, what’s not to love? Well, if I’m honest, a lot of the food up the middle aisles is what is not to love.

The Supermarket Road Map

Here is how supermarkets lay out their stores. Maybe you know this already, maybe you don’t. Supermarkets spend a lot of money on their market research and shopper experience, so they know how you shop even if you don’t.

– The fresh food is at the front of the shop. This will draw you in with bright, vivid fresh produce, with the produce that is on sale right up at the entrance.
– The bakery is also at the entrance. Because the smell of something baking will get you salivating every day of the week. They’re trying to tempt you into impulsive purchases. Cookies? Yes please.
– The meat produce is usually right near the fresh produce as well. In theory, this is all you need to create a quality, nourishing meal.
– But they scatter other ingredients throughout the shop. Herbs? Which aisle is that? Then as you wander up and down looking for herbs you may pass the biscuit aisle, maybe some icecream. All temptations you weren’t thinking about before you saw it.
– The aisle ends all have big, bright, displays of items on sale. Food manufacturers pay a premium for this space. But the reason they do? It works. Who can pass up buying mint slice biscuits for half the price? No one. The answer is no one.

Tips to Navigate the Supermarket

I’m like the crazy power walking lady as I scoot through the supermarket. I have my list, I know what I need and that’s all I am going in for.

Tip 1. Have a list! It sounds so simple, but many people don’t do it. If you don’t have a list, you will end up buying random things you don’t need that will increase your weekly spend.

Tip 2. Pantry staples aside, if it lasts for longer than a week, I want you to think; what is in this “food” that it does not perish.

Tip 3. Stick to the perimeter of the shop. The fresh produce and meats are at the entry. Eggs, milk, frozen vegetables around the outside. The less you wander the aisles the easier it will be to stick to your list.

Tip 4: Don’t be scared to read food labels. I used to get so embarrassed about reading food labels. I thought people would judge me. Now I don’t care. Keep pushing your trolley past Tina, nothing to see here!

Tip 5. Read the product price labels. Whilst health and nutrition is not all about price, it is a factor to consider if you’re trying to manage your weekly food spend. On the price label it lists the product price. But it also lists the per 100g price. So just like when reading food labels you compare the per 100g coloumn, when comparing food value you can compare this. I find this particularly useful when something is on sale, or I am considering buying something in bulk ie; a 4 pack of paper towel vs 2 pack, 400ml stock of different brands etc.

I hope the above clears up some clever tactics the supermarkets use and how you can beat them at their own game. Their end goal is to get you to spend more money. Your end goal should always be, how will this food support my health.

Until next time… x


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Written by Jessica Worth, Nutritionist, Sydney, Northern Beaches, Mona Vale.
Jess is a nutritionist who helps women achieve their health goals, by working with them, making sustainable diet and lifestyle changes along the way.

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