The Anatomy of the Grocery Store: Avoid These Aisles!

Grocery Shopping

Grocery stores, especially the massive ones with too many aisles to even count, have a way of sucking you in like a vacuum. You may find yourself dizzy and lost among a maze of packages, cans and frozen foods, drowning in confusion. Not sure what to buy, you wander aimlessly down the aisles. Understanding the anatomy of the grocery store helps you to avoid some of the traps and cuts time off of your shopping trip. Rest assured, grocery stores are organized in such a fashion as to capitalize on traffic and suck you in. However, with a game plan and a little understanding, it is possible to bypass the traps and expedite your shopping, purchasing the healthiest items possible.

Know Your Aisles

In most chain grocery stores, the inner aisles are jammed with canned, boxed, bagged or frozen foods that are loaded with preservatives, GMO ingredients, sugar and empty calories. Healthy exceptions include such things as oatmeal, olive oil, raw nuts, brown rice, dry beans, organic coffee and teas. For the most part, about 85% of the items in the inner aisles in grocery stores are processed and nutrient void. One key to successful shopping is to spend as little time as possible in the inner aisles. The perimeter generally contains the fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy and meats and other healthier options. The majority of your time in the store should be spent in the perimeter sections.

The Worst Aisles Possible

While most inner aisles are bad, there are a couple that are really bad and should be avoided at all costs. According to, the snack and cereal aisles contain the most sugar and calories by weight. Steering clear of these two aisles should be a “no brainer” for anyone watching their waistline. Of course, if you must pop down the cereal aisle just long enough to get your oatmeal do so, but go quickly and get out quickly.

Understand Marketing

Grocery ShoppingThere is nothing left to chance in the grocery store. Millions of dollars are spent each year by food manufacturers on such things as packaging, shelf placement, displays etc… All in an effort to sell more. However, there is no reason to fall under the trance of the marketing hype and cave, purchasing something that is less than healthy. The placement of all items on the shelves is planned out so that the most expensive items will be at eye level, with the majority being on the right of the display.

This is due to the fact that we read from left to right. The thought is that customers scan the row from left to right and what they end on they normally buy. Research shows that brand label packaging is done in such a way as to draw the eye in. When people see lower priced items on lower shelves, they will somehow think that they are of lower quality. Shelf placement in grocery stores is very competitive with big labels winning the prime spots. Grocery items featured at the end of each aisle are often placed there strategically to boost sales. Many people will mistakenly think that these are sale items and load up. Most of the time these are regularly and often higher priced items that are being pushed for one reason or another. Have you ever paid attention the music playing while shopping? Often it is low key music designed to slow the shopper down so that they will linger longer and buy more. One way to avoid this trap is to strap on your headphones and “pump up the jam” to get through the store faster.

Shopping Tips

Here are few tips to keep your shopping experience as healthy as possible.

  • Make a list and stick to it.
  • Research the lowest priced brands and check ingredients.
  • Don’t buy foods for their fancy packages.
  • Stick to the perimeter as much as possible.
  • Stay away from the bakery – plug your nose as you walk by.
  • Don’t buy any packaged food with more than five ingredients.
  • If you must go into an inner aisle, get what you need and get out.
  • Don’t ever shop when you are hungry.

-The Alternative Daily

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