We’ve all been there before, you head to the supermarket to do your weekly shop either hungry or hungover, whizz around the aisles in eager bargain hunter mode, only to get home and realise you’ve bought a frozen pizza, some BOGOF Pringles and 7 other items that don’t really amount to a proper meal, let alone a healthy one.
These are the dangers of not shopping smart, it increases your likelihood of making poor nutritional decisions and often results in a shop that looks like it was done by a teenage boy with the munchies.
So take heed of these shopping hacks and become a pro at navigating the traps and pitfalls setup by big supermarkets to get your basket full of all the right things.
1. Get low
The bigger brands will often pay a premium in order to appear at ‘grab level’, i.e. between chest and waist height (easy to pick up for those who can’t be bothered to bend down – yep, that’s actually a thing). Having goods in this area allows for higher profits, but the products are often low quality and processed. Try dropping your eyeline down a shelf or two where the healthier products are often housed.
2. Bulk it up – but with care
“If you switch from buying a six-pack of fizzy drinks every week to a 12-pack in an attempt to save money, you’ll probably start drinking 12 cans a week,’ says nutritionist Dr Lisa Young, author of The Portion Teller Plan. “Not only are you not saving money, you’re also overeating and drinking. If you’re bulk-buying, stick to household goods like toilet roll or bland foodstuffs like tinned veg and avoid anything you’ll be tempted to binge on.”
3. Walk not into temptation
Those cheeky supermarkets deliberately try to seduce you into making those dangerous impulse buys (Chocolate Fingers for 49p anyone?) with strategically placed promotions at the end of each aisle and confectionary-packed zones next to the tills. Have you ever noticed that in any Tesco Metro or Sainsbury’s Local the ‘offer’ sections at the end of each aisle always seem to contain chocolate, crisps and fizzy drinks?
If you’re the type of person who can’t resist buy one get one free on Mr Kipling, perhaps switch to online shopping instead. A consumer study by eDigital Research found that 29% of shoppers made impulse buys in store, compared with just 7% on the web.
4. Shop boring
“Supermarkets deliberately position brightly coloured fruit and vegetables near the front of the store to put you in a good mood and make you more likely to spend money,” says Phil Lempert, editor of supermarketguru.com.
“They also have pleasant-smelling flowers and baked goods near the entrance to activate your salivary glands, which makes you more likely to deviate from your shopping list.”
Head straight to the ‘boring’ aisles stocked with canned goods, and visit the front of the store last
To avoid this trap, head straight to the ‘boring’ aisles stocked with canned goods, and visit the front of the store last. By this point, you’ll be keen to leave and less easily distracted – plus putting fresh fruit and veg in your trolley last means it’ll be less likely to get squashed by the rest of your shopping.
5. Go around the outside
Intelligence shows that the vast majority of healthier, wholefoods, such as vegetables, meat and fish, tend to be on the supermarket’s outer perimeter. They call it ‘the racetrack’, and you’ll want to stay on it as best you can if you want to keep your shop healthy (as long as you swerve the booze aisle).
6. Shop to your own beat
Most supermarkets will play music with a rhythm that’s slower than the average heartbeat, and according to a study published in the Journal of Marketing that makes you spend far longer in the supermarket – leading to a 30% higher spend on food that you probably don’t need. So bring your mp3 player with you in future and rattle through your shop in no time.