Common Traps at the Supermarket and How to Avoid Them

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The Four Food GroupsWhen you’re trying to lose weight and stay healthy it can be hard enough to do it all on your own, but it can be even harder when even your local grocery store is working against you. Of course they’re not rooting for your diet to fall to pieces, but their common marketing tactics are designed to get you to stay and spend, and spend a lot! When you’re trying to balance a diet and a budget it can be easy to fall for supermarket tricks and ploys that may seem like a good deal or idea that actually hurts you in the long run. Here’s some things that you should keep in mind before your next shopping trip.

Every part of shelf signage and displays is trying to get your attention and keep it long enough for you to decide to buy what’s on it. Common tactics for grocery stores include things like false scarcity (limiting items to a certain amount per customer) intended to make you think that because there’s a limit on how much of a particular item you can get that you should get as much as you can or you’ll miss out. This is why keeping a list and sticking to it will help to keep you away from items you don’t need.

Another trap to watch out for is the “multi-purchase deal” common with snack items. It’s not uncommon to see prices like $3/5 or $4/10 which may initially look like deals, but are actually incentivizing you to purchase more than one of an item you might only need one of because it seems like a better deal. In this case though, make sure to watch out for required purchase minimums for actually getting that better price. I’ve fallen victim to this, salad mix was 4 for $5 well I didn’t need 4 bags of salad and just bought 2 — when I got to the register they were the regular price because I needed to buy 4 to get the discount.

When an item is on the end of the aisle or in a special pallet in the middle of the store, manufactures are paying a premium for that space.  The “deals” may seem enticing at first, but when compared to similar items in their aisle home aren’t nearly as good a deal. Also avoid “eye level” products in favor of those on high and low shelves. The most expensive products are placed there on purpose because it’s where you’re already looking. I’ve been guilty of being in a rush at the grocery store and just grabbing something vs take the extra few minutes to see what other items may be available.

At the end of the day, the key to saving on your groceries is smart, comparative shopping. Don’t be fooled by flashy signs, bright colors, and misleading math. Take a hard look at the prices of the items you’re buying and you’re bound to save a bundle on your groceries in the long run.

If you have any other grocery tips I’d love to hear them, please share them below.

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