|Five rules for smart shopping|
Five rules for smart shopping
By Cara Rosenbloom RD
Savvy grocery shoppers eat well because their kitchens are stocked with nutritious foods. Quite simply, treats are in short supply, and they eat less of them. That makes good sense for controlling weight and protecting heart health.
So how do you shop smart – especially since most stores are designed to entice you to buy more? Follow these rules and you’ll bring home healthier groceries. Bonus: You’ll save money too.
1. Hug the wall.
The floor plan is similar in most grocery stores: Fresh foods such as vegetables, fruit, meat and bread are found around the perimeter of the store. Processed and packaged goods are kept in the central aisles.
For your healthiest shop, spend more time picking up fresh produce, meat, chicken and fish; low-fat dairy products; and whole grain breads. Take a quick detour down the middle aisles for whole grain pasta and brown rice, but skip the cookie and chip lanes altogether.
2. Love your list
Grocery retailers know that the more you see, the more you’ll buy. That’s why they locate staples like milk as far from the door as possible, so you’ll pass many temptations even if you just came for one item. Stay focused by making a list and sticking to it.
TIP: Make sure you don’t shop when you are hungry – a rumbling tummy always leads to impulse buys.
3. Reach high – and low.
Retail shelving is a science. Look closely and you will notice the following:
- The top shelf houses no-name brands and items in low demand.
- Shelves two and three (at eye level) carry the most popular and expensive products.
- Shelf four is at a child’s eye level and carries products that feature cartoon characters.
- The bottom shelf has private label brands, oversize and bulk items.
The top and bottom shelves often have the best deals. No-name brands and bulk items may cost less but are still high quality. The less-in-demand items, such as plain oats or salt-free pasta sauce are usually on the bottom shelf. Don’t ignore these healthy buys!
4. Check out nutrition claims.
Some grocery chains have their own nutrition rating system, but these are not standardized. You never really know what criteria are used in product ratings. You can’t always trust what you see.
Instead, read ingredient lists on packaged items and avoid foods with many ingredients you can’t pronounce. Check the Nutrition Facts panel to choose items that have no trans fat and are lower in sodium.
Look for products that participate in the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Health Check program, where products are assessed by a team of the Foundation’s registered dietitians who look at fat, fibre, sodium and other nutrients. A recent Canadian study showed that 150 grocery products have been reformulated by food manufacturers in order to meet Health Check’s guidelines for sodium. This amazing feat has resulted in an extra 800,000 kg of salt being removed from the Canadian food supply.
5. Pass up most “specials.”
Don’t fall victim to the word “special” – it doesn’t mean an item is on sale.
Often, a “special” means that the grocery store has partnered with a particular food manufacturer to create a big display and sell more items – but the price may be the same as usual. How special is that?
Streamline your grocery shopping with this printable list.
Download our guide to heart healthy eating for your family.
Posted: May 2012