Back to basics 2: How to start using the supermarket the correct way

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You might not know this but there is actually a right way and a wrong IMG_1162 (2)way to make your way through the supermarket. The right way, of course, is the way to better health and promotes cooking fresh foods from scratch while the wrong way promotes the buying of processed and packaged goods.

Today, I’m going to show you the right way to make your way around the supermarket.

The right way

Step 1

The right way takes a little bit of thought before you get to the supermarket – but don’t worry, it’s only the preparation of a shopping list that’s needed.

It’s always better to go to the supermarket with a shopping list of groceries you actually need. It’s even better if the list fits with your menu plan. But even if you don’t have a menu plan you’ll have to have a basic idea of what you need.

Step 2

Armed with this information you should start your journey around the supermarket by visiting the fresh food section first. Fill up your trolley with fresh fruit and vegetables and fresh meat, chicken and fish.

Step 3

Next you should continue your way around the outsides of the supermarket so you can pick up fresh bread, dairy and frozen foods.

By now you’ll have the majority of the ingredients you need to make meals from scratch. But there’s a few flavour ingredients you still need.

Step 4

Go into the centre isles but only pick and choose the isles you need. Duck into the isles with minced garlic and ginger, grab some herbs and spices and stop by the nuts and dried fruits. Don’t forget the rice or pasta and some tea or coffee too.

By ducking in and out of the isles where you need other ingredients you’ll get less distracted by all the packing labels and their claims of healthy food.

Step 5

Head to the checkouts with everything you need for making your meals from scratch.

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The wrong way

If you normally start at the first isle and wind your way around each isle you’re definitely using the wrong way. This way tempts you to buy more processed packets of food and foods you don’t actually need (like packets of biscuits or do-it-yourself packs full of preservatives and chemical additives).

Ever go shopping when you’re hungry? This is another culprit of the wrong way to use the supermarket because it leads you to buy more food in general and more junk especially.

No shopping list makes the trifecta of wrong ways to shop. Don’t make that mistake and save money while you’re at it.


Other tips for the supermarket

  • Expensive items are at eye level while cheaper versions are higher and lower on the shelves.
  • Price doesn’t always indicate quality. Often you’re paying for a brand when its the same product underneath the wrapper.
  • Check the ingredients list when you buy anything from the middle isles of the supermarket. If sugar is one of the first 3-5 ingredients then it’s a product high in sugar despite its other claims.
  • Dextrose, maltose, sucrose, glucose, fructose, honey, agave and high fructose corn syrup are all names for sugar. There are others as well, so keep an eye out for all the crafty ways manufactures try to hide sugar from you.
  • A product high in salt has more than 120mg/100g of salt so check the labels carefully when buy from the middle isles of the supermarket. If you’re unsure, it’s better to buy a few fresh products and make your own instead of buying the processed item.
  • Supermarkets always put impulse buys near the check out, and it’s almost always chocolate and other high sugar foods. Don’t fall into this trap, especially if you’re hungry.
  • Foods ‘on special’ at the end of the isle may still be more expensive than another brand of the same type of food that is located in the isle itself.
  • Specials at supermarkets can often be on a rotational basis. If you want to find out how these work, find books or websites that can help you find the patterns. A website like Simple Savings could be a good place to start.
  • Buying in bulk only works when you can use or store the food you’re buying. For fresh fruit and veg this might mean you need to do a couple of trips per week to the supermarket instead of buying everything at the beginning of the week. How much lettuce can you really consume before it goes bad? Do you have enough fridge space for bulk shopping too? Buying in bulk on pantry and household goods sometimes works to the best advantage.
  • Most supermarkets are busiest on Saturday mornings and Sunday evenings so avoid these times if you can. Restocking is also usually done on Sunday nights so you might not get what you need either.
  • Generally shopping online is more expensive because you have to pay delivery fees, or it locks you into getting groceries only one day per week (cause they only deliver to your area once a week). But it is convenient if you’re a new mum and don’t want the hassle of taking the kids shopping.


So, the next time you go grocery shopping are you going to go hungry and without a list?


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