Grocery Shopping from the Perimeters

By: Ruth Klein

Have you recognized that you and your husband shop differently for groceries? Yes, even the scientists at Yale and U C Santa Barbara have discovered that there are vital differences in how you shop.

Inside grocery store aisles, women are as adept as men at steering carts. Men proved to be less adept at cart navigation in the long aisles when they looked for items they'd bought before. Too bad - women were better at finding higher calorie things like pastries than men were.

There's an art and profit motive to stocking grocery store shelves that can work against the shopper who is looking for healthier foods at competitive prices. For example, "island displays" in the middle of the store often promote higher-priced, usually higher-calorie foods. Ditto for end-of-the-aisle displays.

A handy rule of thumb is this: essentials like dairy products, produce and meat are generally along the side or at the very rear of the store.

Junk foods and non-staples usually are in the middle. The moral is: shop from the perimeters.

10 Tips to Shop Smart at the Grocery Store

1. Do your homework. Check your supplies before you go to the store. Make a list of what you need, and stick to it.

2. Eat before you go. Hungry shoppers will be more inclined to stock up on fresh-baked breads and other items they might not need. Never shop hungry.

3. Buy locally grown foods. They're fresher, usually less chemical-laden, and you're doing your part to grow your local economy and save the environment.

4. Have a little fun. Have a pre-decided limit of impulse purchases and stick with it.

5. Comparison shop. Become an ingredients reader. If they're the same, choose the generic product.

6. Use coupons. With the Internet, many companies now allow you to download coupons for some items. Go to www.coupons.com for a head start!

7. Avoid trips to the convenience store. Convenience stores charge a lot more for their products due to the convenience factor.

8. Shop alone. You're on a mission, not a family cruise. Have your family help you unload; not load up while you shop.

9. Buy "on sale" staples. You'll save money. If the price is cheaper per ounce, you can carefully wrap and store portions for use over time.

10. Avoid "eye-level" shopping. Manufacturers essentially pay for shelf space, and the most enviable is at eye-level. Look at the shelf at eye-level. Once you're at eye level, look above it and below it because that's where the deals are stacked. Now, when you go grocery shopping, you'll do well to shop the perimeters first, fill your cart with the more nutritional items first, and save just a small amount of room for the higher-pricedFeature Articles, lower-nutritional-value processed foods.

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