5 things your grocery store won’t tell you

Dietician Maisie Vanriel won Moneyville’s blogging contest and will begin writing twice a week beginning in early July exploring smart food shopping, and things the food industry doesn’t want you to know. She will also be taking part in a 12-week challenge to reduce her family grocery spending.

Canadians can reduce their grocery bill and eat healthier food and they do not need coupons and special deals to do it. As a dietitian, I often teach healthier eating by teaching smarter shopping, because supermarkets have perfected separating you from your money and not always in the healthiest way.

Here are 5 things you may not know about grocery stores:

1. Why produce is misted.

The first thing you see when you enter many grocery stores is a colourful wall of fresh produce, sometimes being misted gently. It screams healthy,  fresh pulled from the soil and still damp with morning dew. That wholesome look will make you “feel”  healthier and more inclined to stay in the store to shop and often has been proven to result in you spending $5 to $8 more per visit.

So next time you go into a grocery store save the produce area for last. Once you enter turn to the right and walk past the cash register, chips, candy and treats. You will miss out on that “‘wholesome” feeling and are less likely to linger because the treats will just remind you of what your waistline does not need. Then pick up your fresh fruits and vegetables and leave!

2. Why milk is at the back.

Most quick trips to the grocery store are for bread, milk and eggs, so marketers place these items at the back of the store hoping you will walk down an aisle and make an impulse buy. Avoid the temptation — just walk around the perimeter, pick up your bread, milk and eggs and leave.

3. Always try lower shelves.

If you must walk down an aisle it is easy to buy healthier foods and save money by choosing the foods you have to bend down or stretch up to reach. The shelf space at eye level is aimed at the average Canadian woman who is 5-foot-5. Since women do most of the grocery shopping manufacturers will pay thousands of dollars per store to own that space.

Take the cracker aisle; the least healthy, most expensive crackers are generally on the eye-level shelves. Choose healthier and less expensive crackers by just bending down or stretching up to reach them.

4. Featured specials aren’t so special.

Be wary of items that are “on special” or “featured” at the front of an aisle. Notice they don’t always say “on sale,” because often times they are not. A “featured” cereal may be exactly the same price as it is in the aisle, just placed in a more prominent spot to increase sales.

5. Watch for “me too” items.

The front of the aisle is also a favourite spot for what I call “me too” items. A more expensive cereal is “accidentally” placed next to the featured cereal, and only when you get to the checkout do you find out it is more expensive. Most shoppers just keep it rather than go back to change it. Next time avoid those featured areas.

It may not seem like much but remember, “look after your pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.” It is often the mundane day-to-day activities like grocery shopping where people are most easily parted from their money.

Published by maisievanriel

Welcome to my website. My name is Maisie Vanriel and I am a Registered Dietitian. I am a graduate of The University of Toronto with an Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Food and Nutritional Science and a Diploma in Food Safety from the Guelph Food Technology Centre. I realized a few years ago that some of the best times I have had in my career as a Dietitian have been those times when I was writing. For many years I was part of the Editorial Advisory Board of Diabetes Dialogue Magazine (The Canadian Diabetes Association) which afforded me the opportunity to write articles and editorials on diabetes. I contributed to the first Ontario Healthy Eating Manual and recently reviewed the lesson plans in the updated version launched this March 2012. In May of 2011, I won the Toronto Star’s MoneyVille section Next Blogger’s contest beating out 265 other contestants for the chance to write on nutrition and sensible shopping. My winning Blog was entitled: 5 things your grocery store won’t tell you. Writing is one of my favourite ways of communicating and like cooking it relaxes me; so in some ways your allowing me to communicate with you will contribute to my health and I hope in return I can contribute to your health and wellbeing. The inspiration for this website is my grandmother who lived 97 years and enjoyed excellent health for almost all of those 97 years. She believed in healing power of herbs, a plant-based diet and in paying attention to the type of fuel (food) that she put in her body. So my postings will be less about the constant stream of research and studies around what and how to eat and more about reminding us that we have always known how to eat. We just need to get back in tune with our bodies and focus on providing it with the best possible fuel, quality foods.

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