Shopping the perimeter

Posted by: Ren

A friend once gave me a very interesting piece of advice. She told me, that if I were ever in a hurry and looking to do a fast yet still healthy grocery shop (and, if I hadn’t prepared a list), just shop “around” the grocery store. Meaning, don’t go into the middle aisles, just keep on the perimeter of the store. “Just shop the perimeter”, was what she actually said.

The next time I visited the grocery store, I took a look around. Specifically at the perimeter, and the everything in between. To my right was the seasonal produce and fruits, the bakery. In the back were the milk and dairy, then next to that the butchery. On the other side was the prepared foods and deli aisle. I was incredulous. Indeed, all the fresh foods were on the outside! In the middle aisles, stacks and stacks of canned foods, boxed cereals, cookies, cakes, sodas, pastas, etc. Lots of ingredient labels, lots of expiration dates. Lots of packaging.

Surprisingly, big grocery stores all around the world are laid out in similar fashion, where the non-perishables and frozen foods are relegated to the center of the store. If you’re a grocery-store-wanderer like I am, this can be dangerous and tempting when weaving in and out of the cookie and chips aisles. In fact, there’s a surprising amount of resources out there about supermarket shopping layouts (check out this video).

But simply by making a big circle around the outside of the store, one is able to gather what looks to be the bulk of a week’s groceries, veering in towards the aisles just to grab a few specific supplements; namely beans, nuts, favorite cereal etc. Indeed, “shopping the perimeter” truly will keep your basket filled with fresher and healthier ingredients. A no-brainer way to eat healthy and resist temptation? I can’t believe my friend had held this from me for so long.

What are some of your shopping tips to beat the supermarkets?

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