Common Grocery Shopping Myths You Need to Stop Believing

If you’re like most Americans, then you probably visit your local supermarket a few times per month. In all those dozens of visits you’ve no doubt learned a trick or two about grocery shopping. First and foremost: never shop on an empty stomach (because you’ll always buy more). But when it comes to the “rules” of the supermarket, not everything you’ve heard is necessarily true.

Want to save money and outsmart the slick marketers at the grocery store? Read on for the most common myths about grocery shopping that you need to stop believing.

1. Myth: Brown eggs are healthier than white ones

Egg Container

Brown and white eggs are the same. | Rightone/iStock/Getty Images

They may look better on Instagram, but brown eggs aren’t any different inside than white ones — they just come from a different type of chicken.

Next: You shouldn’t always skip this type of item.

2. Next: Prepared foods are a waste of money

prepared foods fruit display

Some prepared foods are worth it. | littleny/iStock/Getty Images

Those pre-chopped vegetables and bagged salads cost more, it’s true. But only you know your tendencies. If buying these convenience foods will keep you from ordering takeout, then you’re really saving money by purchasing them.

Some people just don’t have time to shred their own carrots — and that’s OK.

Next: These foods only sound healthy.

3. Myth: Organic means healthy

Trader Joe's organic toaster pastries

An organic pastry is still a pastry. | Trader Joe’s

A box of organic chocolate chip cookies is still a box of cookies. Your best bet for eating healthier? Stick to whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible. The fewer ingredients, the better.

Next: Breaking this rule may save you money.

4. Myth: Always stick to your shopping list

A woman holds her shopping list with her teeth

Don’t miss signs for deals in the store. | Jean-Francois Monier/AFP/Getty Images

Making a list is great for making sure you don’t forget anything and for keeping you on task. But if you skip out on great sales and discounts just because you’re trying to strictly stick to the list, then you’re not doing yourself any favors.

Next: The real reason this kind of score doesn’t always save you money.

5. Myth: It’s best to buy everything in bulk

Costco Wholesale warehouse

Bulk might not save you money. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Warehouse clubs like Costco and Sam’s Club maybe be popular, but be careful what you buy there. Bulk discounts aren’t always the best option for your family.

For example, that oversized bag of chips won’t save you money if you throw half of it away when it gets stale. Be strategic about your bulk buys and always double check the price per ounce — sometimes the supermarket has better deals, and you’ll actually use all the stuff you buy.

Next: These aren’t less healthy, just easier.

6. Myth: Fresh vegetables are healthier than frozen

Vendor serving and chating with customers.

Frozen vegetables might sometimes be healthier. | kasto80/iStock/Getty Images

It turns out the opposite of this myth might be true. Frozen vegetables are frozen at their peak ripeness, so all those healthy nutrients are preserved, unlike the fresh produce that’s offered at varying stages of life in the display. The other awesome thing about frozen veggies is you’ll never have to throw them out because you didn’t eat them fast enough.

Next: There is the best day to shop.

7. Myth: Shopping on any day of the week is fine

Couple shopping together in grocery store

Certain days have different deals. | iStock.com/gpointstudio

You’ll find the most discounts on perishables in the middle of the week, especially at the end of the day. Lifehacker recommends Wednesday nights as the most ideal time to do your grocery shopping for that reason alone. Bonus: It’s likely to be a lot less crowded that day and time.

Next: Food manufacturers want to confuse you on this point.

8. Myth: All wheat bread is healthier than white bread

Slices of moldy bread.

Many healthy-looking breads actually have lots of white flour. | Yucelozber/iStock/Getty Images

This is a rotten trick that food producers play on consumers. Crackers and bread that are labeled as multigrain or cracked wheat often contain lots of refined white flour, which is one of the unhealthy culprits in white bread. For a better bread option, be sure that “whole,” “whole grain,” or “whole wheat” appear on the ingredients list.

Next: Bring these people with you.

9. Myth: It’s better to shop without your kids

Girl holding carrots in grocery store

Kids benefit from shopping with you. | FlairImages/iStock/Getty Images

It may be faster and easier to leave the kids home, but you’d be surprised what a benefit it can be for them when they come along. Teach budgeting and math skills when you let your older child keep a running tally of your cart contents. For younger kids, let them choose healthy snacks and explain why you’re picking each item. The grocery store is chock full of teachable moments.

Next: The middle section isn’t really evil.

10. Myth: Avoid the middle aisles to stay healthier

shopping cart in a grocery store aisle

You’ll miss healthy items if you only shop the perimeter. | shironosov/iStock/Getty Images

Most of us have heard by now that the outer perimeter of the store including the produce, meat and seafood, and dairy departments contain the healthiest offerings. But skipping the middle to stay healthy isn’t necessary. Nutritious packaged foods like almond butter, coconut oil, beans, and plenty of other kitchen staples are located in the middle. Just go ahead and cruise right past the cookie aisle.

Next: This type of food only sounds healthy.

11. Myth: Low fat food is healthier

Reading a nutrition label

Your body needs some fat. | BrianAJackson/iStock/Getty Images

The myth of low fat meaning healthy has been debunked over and over again, but it bears repeating. When manufacturers remove the fat, they have to replace it with worse ingredients such as sodium and sugar. You’re much better off buying full-fat foods made with natural components instead.

Next: These two items are identical.

12. Myth: Name brand foods are better

Nutrition labels are seen on food

There often is no difference between name brand and generic. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Often name brand and store brand products are made at the same facilities using the same ingredients. The only difference? The label on the box and the price, of course.

Next: Don’t overuse this money-saving item.

13. Myth: Coupons save you money

Woman In Grocery Aisle

Don’t buy a product just because you have a coupon. | iStock.com/bowdenimages

Only clip coupons for items you were planning to buy anyway. Otherwise, you’re just stocking up on stuff you don’t need.

Next: How often you go matters.

14. Myth: You should only shop once per week

Customers shop at an Aldi grocery store

Shop as often as you need. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

Stocking up in fewer trips works for some people, while others like to go to the supermarket more frequently and buy less. As long as you’re sticking to your budget and avoiding too many impulse purchases, it all comes down to personal preference and doesn’t matter either way.

Plus, the more often you shop, the less likely your fresh produce will go bad before you can eat it.

Next: Head this direction for faster lines.

15. Myth: The express line is the fastest

Male cashier with customers

Try the line farthest to the left. | Noel Hendrickson/iStock/Getty Images

It turns out that’s not always the case. Since most people tend to head right when lining up, choosing the checkout line the farthest to the left will usually mean the shortest lines.

Read more: The Most Hated Grocery Store Chains in America

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