I posted a photo (pictured below) on Facebook a few days ago and expressed my great distaste for what I had found! I thought I needed to elaborate a little bit on it and why it was so upsetting for me see. It has come to my attention lately that many big food companies are changing their marketing strategies. People have realized how much junk is in mainstream food items, and many families want to avoid it. So, of course, big companies are targeting those of us looking for better, healthier options. Also, they slap a huge price tag on their “natural” items, knowing people will pay more for something they believe is healthier. There are so many things wrong with this, first of all, eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to take out a second mortgage. Second, the “natural” products are often nearly as useless to good nutrition as their conventional counterparts. I thought I would address some tips I use to avoid falling for the traps companies use to market their products to families wanting to eat better. Shopping with these ideas in mind will help you save money on groceries by not wasting your money on products that are misleading at best, and downright false advertising in my opinion.
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This is the number one thing you should do before buying any product. The front of the package may falsely say “all-natural” but the ingredient list cannot lie. Look for added sugar (there are more than 60 different names), processed vegetable oils, artificial flavors and dyes, and preservatives. I was just wandering around a gas station looking for something I could eat; I found some coconut water with tea—sounds yummy right? Coconut water is natural and healthy. Wrong. 38 grams of sugar. Third ingredient—sugar. I read the ingredient list on one of those breakfast burritos they have at gas stations that was “handmade”. Partially hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oils, artificial butter flavor, disodium EDTA, disodium dihydrogen pyrophosphate, modified corn starch, and so much more! I’ll just say this, when looking at an ingredient list, simple and real food is better. Simple and real food is better.
Know where your meat came from
As I spoke about in my post on grass-fed beef, “grass-fed” is not regulated. A label can say “grass-fed” and have a pretty picture of cattle on it when the cattle were still fed corn in a feedlot but you will pay double the price. Chicken can be “free-range” in their dirty chicken coop and still be labeled that way. If you know where your meat is coming from, you will know how the animals were raised, what they were fed, and if antibiotics and hormones were used. My favorite option is buying from a local rancher/farmer, but if you can’t make that happen (it can be hard), speak with the meat manager at the grocery store. I literally just did this!
Know that organic, all-natural, and non-gmo doesn’t always mean healthy
The inspiration for this post was the experience I recently had at a well known superstore that I mentioned earlier. I was meandering through the aisles holding onto a small bit of hope I could find some plantain chips when I came across some “organic” very popular chips. Simply, they called it. This is exactly what we need to be on our guard against! These big companies are on to the natural health movement, and they are changing their marketing strategies. Yeah, it may be organic, non-gmo corn and wheat, natural flavors, and no dyes, but it’s still low nutrition food. And the term “all-natural” is not regulated at all, meaning anybody can slap all-natural on their package and sell it to you for twice the price.
Remember that companies are on to the natural movement and they will do anything to sell to you
Elaborating on the last tip, these big companies are on to the natural living, health, and wellness movement. They are targeting people who are trying to do better, buy better, and live healthier. They will do anything they have to do to sell their product. They will use organic ingredients to get the organic label, when in reality they are still selling nutritionally empty junk food. I promise you, they don’t care about your health or your kids health. Go into shopping with that in mind, and your perspective will be forever changed.
Shop the perimeters
The easiest way to avoid deceptive marketing is to avoid the packaging all together. Buy lots of fresh fruits and veggies, nuts and seeds, high quality grains, and good protein; purchase in bulk if you can. I know organic produce can increase your bill, but so can low nutrition snack foods. Opt for snacks like apples, nut butters, avocados, plantain chips, hummus, carrot sticks, and frozen peas. (I know these are random, but they are my favorites!) Check out the EWG dirty dozen, and buy the produce you consume the most organic (because this will reduce your pesticide exposure the most) when money is tight.
I hope this helps explain my frustrations a little better and gives you some good ideas for grocery shopping. It is upsetting that companies are giving the false impression that eating healthy costs a fortune. It doesn’t have to be like that!
What to do next?
What about you? How do you plan to save money and make good choices at the grocery store?