We all know that shopping healthy is harder than it sounds. Trying to walk past the sweet temptation of our favourite naughty snacks more often than not lands them in our trolley. If the weekly shop is your diet’s downfall, here’s a few tips to help you get through it with only the groceries you want.
1. Write a list
You’ve probably heard it a thousand times before, but writing a list at home of exactly what you need for the week really does work. How often have you come home after a shop and realised you’d forgotten something? Or come home with things you didn’t really want in the first place?
Studies have shown that, logically, writing a list before you go shopping ensures you won’t forget anything you need for the week. They’ve also shown that if you have a list, you’re more likely to stick to the good, healthy food you’ve written down, and you’re less likely to spontaneously buy the bad stuff.
That is, if you remember to bring the list with you to the shops!
2. Eat an apple before you shop
Studies have found that eating a healthy snack before grocery shopping, such as a fresh, sweet apple, increased fresh produce purchases by a whopping 25%. The authors said that eating healthy puts us in a “healthy mindset”, which leads us to making better food choices when we shop.
It’s always a good idea to have a snack before you go food shopping anyway, as stores are designed to make us hungry. Shopping when we’re hungry has been shown to increase our food purchases, making us spend more money and potentially producing more waste.
3. Stick to the perimeter
For most grocery shops, the first thing you see when you walk in is the fresh produce. This isn’t a coincidence — it’s statistical. Seeing all the bright, vibrant colours of the fresh fruit and veg puts you in a good mood. Couple this with the smell of freshly baked break from the bakery, or the hot chickens from the deli, and you’ve entered a realm of sensory overload designed to put you in a happy, and hungry, mood.
Use this to your advantage — avoid the centre aisles. You’ll notice that most of the raw food and cold products are scattered around the outer edge of the shop, so if your list is healthy enough, you’ll find you won’t even need to wander down the aisles of pre-packaged temptation. If you do find yourself needing flour, spices or coffee, etc, make sure you find the right aisle and head just for what you need.
4. Avoid eye-level products
This might seem like a bit of a strange one, but when you shop, try to go for items placed at the top and bottom of the shelves. A common saying in stores is that “eye level is buy level”, and the science has shown that products placed in the middle of the shelves do sell better.
What this usually means is that the more expensive or “up-market” brands are placed at the ideal eye height for better sales. They’re usually given a greater number of facings as well — how much shelf space they’re given, with the greater number of facings indicative of higher sales.
If you want to save money, start to reach and bend for your products. More often than not, you’ll find the same product for cheaper.
5. Beware the end of the aisle
Standing at the checkout you’ll notice all of the creative and colourful displays along the ends of the aisles. These “end caps” are designed to attract your attention, often with large letters saying “sale” or “% off”. But be wary — a lot of end caps aren’t actually good deals, especially if they’re advertising something that’ll throw off all of your healthy hard work. Your best bet is to ignore them entirely.