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Supermarket Shopping Tips to Buy Healthier, Save Time and Money
Seven Less Well Known Grocery Shopping Secrets

Where should you start shopping?
Do those samples change your shopping list?

The next time you walk into a supermarket, remember this. It's a business. It's there to make money. Some may feature healthier or more sustainable products, but ultimately they're there to generate profit. That means they are arranged and staged to get you to spend as much money as they can. Even if that means you buy junk food or unhealthy options.

Most people know you shouldn't head into a grocery store when you're hungry, because you'll pick up things you don't need. But do you know what day you should avoid grocery shopping? When you can grab the freshest produce or what items you should put in your cart last?

To help you out, I've put together seven less well-known grocery shopping tips you need to know.

Skip the seasonal promotions. Before Halloween, bags of candy are put in giant bins conveniently near checkout counters. Giant displays are built out of chips, dips and soda for Super Bowl Sunday. Chocolate and candy are front and center before valentines.

Your job is to walk right past those displays. Don't give it any attention, because the longer you browse the more likely you are to buy. Stick to your list. If you buy it, you're going to eat it. So don't even entertain the idea of picking it up. Treat it like a game. Can you get through the store and ONLY put items on your list in the cart?

Ignore sales for things you don't buy. Sales lead to impulse purchases. When you see a sign that says, “two for the price of one” ask yourself. Is that something I would buy if it wasn't on sale? Do I really need TWO of something I wouldn't normally buy ONE of? If it's something on your list, and it won't spoil before you would normally use it, go ahead.

Say no to free samples. Samples are used by supermarkets as a way to introduce new, usually high-profit products or new ways to feature older, high-profit products. They're typically things that strike taste buds quickly so they get a positive reaction. Most are convenience foods that are higher in sugar, salt and fat.

Ask yourself these questions before you bite. Is the product free of added sweeteners, made of whole grains and low in fat and salt? (Hint: If it's a meat being fried in oil and covered by melted cheese, it's probably not healthy.)

Don't be fooled by where free samples are being prepared. It's not unusual for them to be fixed where the produce is sold. Being near healthy foods can give them an undeserved illusion of being good for you.

Avoid shopping on Sunday afternoons. A combination of things, from people stocking up for the upcoming week to shoppers stopping by after church, make Sundays the busiest times for grocery stores. That means fewer choices in produce, longer wait times to check out and more crowds as you make your way through the store.

While you're at it, skip the supermarket in the evening between four and five. They tend to fill up with people just off work or grabbing last-minute items for dinner. Weekdays are slower, with the best times to get in and out quickly, early in the morning or late in the evening.

One of the slowest shopping times is also the best time to get quality produce. Before nine in the morning stores tend to be slower and it's when deliveries are often made. Ask when produce arrives in your store and how long it takes for it to be put out. Show up right after the department is stocked for the best selection.

Finally, grab meat and dairy items last. If you get them when you start shopping, they can start to warm up as you go through the store.

Follow these tips and you'll save money, time and bring healthier foods home.

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