Savvy supermarket shopping
Full of eye-catching displays and tempting offers, a trip to the supermarket can be a challenge when you’re watching your waistline – and your wallet.
If you’ve given in to impulse buys while doing your weekly shop, you’re not alone. In the UK, we spend a staggering £50 billion a year on promotions, such as buy-one-get-one-free offers and two-for-ones.
At the same time, millions of tons of food is wasted every year. Follow our savvy tips to avoid common supermarket stealth tactics, and keep your next food shop on track and on budget.
Supermarket trappings: what’s the issue?
Offers tend to be on products like crisps, biscuit, chocolate and fizzy drinks – all designed to comfort and entice the shopper, and, importantly, foods we should be aiming to consume less of.
With billions of pounds up for grabs, supermarkets may use a variety of ‘tricks of the trade’ to encourage us to spend money, usually on items we don’t need, and which certainly weren’t on the shopping list.
While there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself, a recent survey conducted by the Money Advice Service found that 76% of shoppers regularly spend more than intended, and part with an extra £11 per shop.
Spotting supermarket strategies
If you want to survive the supermarket with your budget and healthy eating intact, knowing some of the most common ‘tricks’ is key…
- Cheaper lines are often harder to reach and out of the natural eye line.
- ‘Wobbling’ hanging signs in the aisles act like flags and red stickers, designed to attract our attention and suggest items are on offer – even if they aren’t.
- Differences in unit pricing (where products are priced by gram or litre) can make it more difficult to compare products by size or weight.
- Store layout plays a key role in encouraging you to part with your money: the entrance area is designed to slow your pace to ‘shopping speed’ and the order in which you encounter different types of products is no accident. Shiny, fresh choices such as fruit, meat, and fish are early on in your journey, while essentials, such as bread and milk, are usually at the rear, so you have to walk through the entire supermarket to reach them.
- Almost every end-of-aisle section houses the special offers designed to encourage you to impulse buy.
Ways to stay supermarket smart
- Plan meals so you know what you need for the week. This can help combat the natural reaction to make unnecessary purchases.
- Write a shopping list for meals and snacks. You’re less likely to be tempted to impulse buy.
- Don’t shop when you’re hungry – it really can make a difference. Starving shoppers buy more.
- Reward yourself. It’s easy to be tempted by checkout ‘treats’, but instead of opting for chocolate or crisps, why not buy a magazine?
- Is that BOGOF or 3-for-2 offer worth it? Unhealthy choices are likely to affect your blood glucose levels and may be wasted.
Surviving the supermarket sweep
Keep healthy eating and good blood sugar control at the forefront of your mind next time you enter a shop to find yourself confronted with an array of attractive, tempting products.
Now you’re clued up on some of the most common supermarket sales trappings, feel empowered to tackle that weekly shop and leave with that rare combination – a trolley full of essentials and a healthier bank balance.
Struggling to think of inventive meals that won't break the bank? We've selected a range of our favourites which either use affordable ingredients, feed a crowd or can be easily frozen and reheated.