How to shop at a supermarket
Ever heard the saying 'stick to the outer isles of the supermarket'? As if only the middle isles were filled with horrible, processed, muck that you shouldn't even gaze your eyes upon, let alone ingest?
Well. Let me give you some insight into how supermarkets work.
The Marketers Hot Spots
Eye level - The most prized spot for a product manufacturer. We see it straight away, so we're more likely to buy it, or at least discover it. No matter where you are in the supermarket, this level is top dollar to plant your product there, because it sells.
At a child's eye level - The prime position for you guessed it, foods appealing to kids. Think colourful, typically unhealthy items with all their favourite TV and game characters. Prime real estate for impulse items, junk foods and all the things you'd prefer your child not to want to eat…..or beg for loudly in public.
On the ends of the isles - You quickly dodge past the confectionary isle, and try to avoid most of the middle as much as possible, but guess what? Those pesky marketers have you all figured out! Bam! The ends of the isles are packed with discounts, hot buys, and specials like buy 1 get 1 free, 4 for $2! Woah woah woah - hold up now. Your trolley suddenly halts, and despite all your effort to avoid those damned irresistible treats, they've come and smacked you in the face as you tried to walk on by! And with an even more irresistible price offer!
At checkout - Uh oh, you made it this far, but there's a long wait and nothing on the magazine covers grab your attention much. Kimye, Miley, the "fat" and the "bony" don't do much for you. So your eyes wander to the shiny packages just begging to be picked up and placed amongst your items. You've only bought healthy food so far, and they've blatantly stated it's on special for half price. Surely a 92c Snickers bar won't hurt? Ok maybe two - because technically it's 2 for the price of 1…...and you'll save one for a rainy day……..maybe. Got you! Impulse buys run riot around the checkout, yet another fun place where diet and health goals can go to heaven
So what should you do?
Clearly as soon as you enter the supermarket you've entered a battle zone between your good intentions vs great marketing of the foods you're trying to avoid, regardless of walking the isles or not.
So here's your battle arsenal:
Shopping list - Yep, it's boring, and pretty tedious. But make a list of all your staples on your computer or phone and save it. Do this only once and you've got a personalised shopping list ready to go every time. Just have the things you eat or use every week without fail, and that you buy or need all the time. Print it out or take it with you when you go shopping - circling the items that you need, and adding any other items before you hit the shops.
Budget - You may have all the money in the world, but a good budget can keep anyone on track with their health and shopping goals. Stick to a weekly budget of what works for you and really make the effort to stick to it. Work out your average spend, and take a look at your previous receipts to see where you could cut back on costs. Keep to the essential healthy wholefoods, and cut out any extra snacks and beverages that are unnecessary luxuries, leaving them for special occasions.
Focus - Staying focused on your health goals when there's a big tub of choc peanut butter ice cream staring at you on special is much harder than it sounds. I'm there with you! I don't have super magical will power all the time either. But what makes it easier, is taking a second to think about your long term goals, rather than the immediate satisfaction you'd have from digging into that tub. Ask yourself why you are being healthy? Why is it so important to you? Is it because you want to be around to see your kids grow up? Is it because you want to run a marathon? Is it because you want to fit into a slim wedding dress? Is it because Summer is coming? Or is it because you want to be able to fit into the latest fashion styles comfortably? Whatever your reason may be, bring it to the front of your mind. Chances are that tub of ice cream may not be so appealing.
Bottom line: Don't be afraid of the middle isles. They have some pretty great stuff there - e.g. diced tomatoes, oats, quinoa, olive oil. Just prep ahead and you'll be good to go!