Grocery shopping isn't for the weak. Everywhere you look, there are thousands of products competing for your attention and money.
There were 43,844 items in the average grocery store in 2013, according to the Food Marketing Institute. Combine that number with all the information most customers look for in each product—price, taste, preparation, nutrition—and you might feel overwhelmed.
With nutrition alone, there are many factors to consider. Here are eight quick and easy tips to help you weed out the junk, fill your cart with more of the good, and get out of the store quicker.
As you enter the grocery store, remember that you're not on neutral ground. Put on your game face. The store is designed—from the location of products and aisles to the sales and advertisements—to make you spend money.
Designs of products often increase the sales of unhealthy foods. Processed foods produce the greatest profit margins for stores. You must rely on yourself to be informed and make good choices. If you go in on the offensive, you're much more likely to come out a winner.
Have a plan so you can get in and get out quick. Your plan should be a list based on the healthy foods and menus you've created for the day or week. Why? The more time you spend on it at home, the less time you'll spend in the store. The more time you spend in the store, and the more items your eyes view, the more you'll buy.
This is not a guess or a hypothesis; it's down to a science. There's a reason why the pharmacy, the milk and meat, and other staples are farthest from the entrance. The more you see, the more you buy—and those spontaneous additions to your cart typically aren't the healthiest choices.
You've likely heard this before, and it bears repeating: shop the perimeter of the store. This is where you'll generally find the least-processed items like milk, cheese, meat, fruits and vegetables.
Unprocessed is somewhat of a loose term, but in this case, consider it foods with ingredients that are either singular, minimal, and at the very least, understandable. Try to only make your way into the aisles for foods that are minimally processed, such as dried beans and plain frozen vegetables.