With so many choices and temptations, shopping at the supermarket can make your head spin. We'll give you the inside scoop and get you on your way to becoming a smarter shopper.
1: Shop the perimeter.
All the fresh foods -- fruits, veggies, dairy and meats -- are around the edge of the store. The milk aisle is typically placed at the far end so you'll have to walk through aisles of highly packaged processed foods to get there. If you work the perimeter, you'll end up filling your cart with healthier (and less-processed) foods.
2: Avoid crowds.
Hitting the market early in the morning or after dinnertime will give you free reign. This is especially true on Wednesdays, which are usually the least-crowded day of the week.
3: Look high and low.
Products may look as if they're randomly placed on shelves, but the arrangement is actually strategic. Those at eye level are usually from larger companies that have money to stock their products in the perfect place. Look on higher and lower shelves and you'll find products from some smaller companies, some of which are healthier and less expensive.
4: Be wary of specials.
Even if you find a healthy product like yogurt or whole wheat bread on special, think about whether you really need to buy 10 for $10. The extras will either end up in the trash or in the belly of someone who didn't need those extra calories. Many times, you can still get a special price without buying all 10 items. Investigate before you invest.
5: Use your arms.
If you're running in for a few items, forgo the cart or basket and use your arms. This will help you avoid some last-minute indulgences you don't really need.
(Courtesy Toby Amidor on foodnetwork.com.)
(For more information, visit www.foodnetwork.com. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service.)