Current Issue

Market research suggests that most shoppers take only three seconds to choose various foods in the supermarket, which is hardly enough time to consider value, nutrition, and convenience equally.

10 ways to shop smarter

  • Planning is key. Before you go to the store, think about what you will need to create at least your next three main meals, and make a list.
  • Avoid impulse buying by sticking to your shopping list. At the same time, adjust your ingredients if something you can substitute is on sale.
  • Shop the perimeter. Supermarkets tend to stock fresh items and whole foods around the edges, whereas more highly processed foods are positioned in the inner aisles, and profitable junk food usually sits at eye level.
  • Buy seasonal produce. Avoid buying out-of-season produce that has to be flown in from distant countries, which attracts premium prices. Local farmers’ markets can offer really fresh fruits and vegetables at good prices.
  • Bulk buy to save. If a store near you has a bulk section, you will save a considerable amount of money by making your purchases there.
  • Compare unit cost. Packaging can be deceiving. Compare the value of products by checking prices per pound. Many grocery stores provide this information on the price labels above or below their products.
  • Buy store brands. Supermarket and other private label brands of packaged foods often provide similar quality but cost 15 to 20 percent less.
  • Check weekly specials. Compare prices between stores to take advantage of what’s on sale. For example, you can stock up on loaves of bread when they’re on sale and then freeze them. A toaster will thaw the slices nicely.
  • Prevent food waste. Buy only what you need. At least 14 percent of food purchased in the U.S. ends up in the trash. Always check use-by dates and place chilled and frozen products in your shopping cart last.
  • Scan food labels. Compare ingredients and nutritional content to ensure that you get the best health value for your dollar.

  • Nutritionist Sue Radd is the award-winning author of The Breakfast Book and coauthor of Eat To Live, internationally acclaimed for showing how savvy eating can combat cancer and heart disease and improve well-being. See for more nutrition information.

Food Matters: Grocery Shopping on a Budget

by Sue Radd
From the August 2010 Signs