Last updated: Mar 02, 2016
Maybe you think youre in control as you wheel around the grocery aisles. But youre not. Food manufacturers have studied the best way to part you from your cash, says syndicated newspaper columnist Stephanie Nelson. Heres what they dont want you to know.


Theres a method to the madness
The sale cookies arent next to the expensive coffee by accident. A lot of strategic marketing goes into food placement to get you to make impulse purchases and buy more. Stick to the perimeter, and youre more likely to get healthy, fresh stuff. The higher-priced items—snacks, cookies, beverages—are often in the middle.

Its fresher if you ask
Grill your grocer about when fresh fish, meat, produce, and dairy deliveries come in.

Avoid the end-caps
In-your-face displays build business. There are prime spots at the end of each aisle where stores entice you with stuff that isnt all that healthy or cheap.

Convenience costs
Youll dish out top dollar for paper, health, and personal-care products at the grocery store. Brand-name toothpaste, for example, costs about one third more than at a discount store. Pet food is 33 percent less at pet supermarkets.

“Sale” is just a word
A supermarket will slap a sale sign on a dime reduction just to get your attention. Good sales are 50 percent off, or buy one, get one free. Add a coupon, and you can save as much as 80 to 100 percent. Coupons, by the way, arent just for junk food. You can save on the latest food trends—including organic and health foods like egg substitutes, veggie burgers, and low-sodium, low-fat soups.