Feeding your family is an expensive proposition, and your friendly, neighborhood grocery store is doing everything it can to milk your money.
How? The more expensive products are placed at eye-level, displays are arranged to entice you to buy something you never intended and the store ambiance--from the color of the walls to the piped-in music--is designed to keep you browsing aisle after aisle.
It gets worse. Many of the products you're enticed to purchase are rip-offs.
"In fact, even the lowest-priced supermarket in your neighborhood is brimming with complete rip-offs--health foods that aren't healthy, gourmet foods that aren't gourmet, specialty items that just aren't that special," insists David Zinczenko, author of "Eat This Not That! Supermarket Survival Guide: The No-Diet Weight Loss Solution."
Zinczenko has identified five of the biggest grocery store rip-offs:
1. Organic onions and avocados
Even when onions and avocados are grown conventionally, they rank as the lowest of all fruits and vegetables for pesticide contamination. Use this rule of thumb: If you have to peel it before you eat it, it's relatively low in pesticides.
A bag of Funyuns costs about $4 and contains 6.5 ounces of snackable corn. Compare that to an ear of corn, which will run you about a $1 or even less. But unlike that ear of corn, you also get cheap fillers (sugar, corn starch and soy flour) and a lot of puffed air in a bag of Funyuns. "The corn is puffed and the bag is puffed--so you're buying mostly puffery," says Zinczenko.
Depending on the time of year and your location, swordfish can cost as much as $20 a pound. It's expensive because it's scarce--a simple rule of supply and demand. Swordfish also contains high levels of mercury. A better choice is halibut. "It has all the flavor with 40 percent fewer calories, a much lower cost, and it's one of the cleanest fish out there," Zinczenko explains.
4. Gluten-free baked goods
Unless you are among the 1 percent of the population that has a gluten allergy or celiac disease, don't waste your money on gluten-free products, which cost two to three times more than their counterparts that contain gluten. Gluten-free does not mean it has fewer calories or more nutrients.
5. Anything with a cartoon on the box
"You know there's trouble when food needs a mascot," warns Zinczenko. When you see a cartoon character on the outside of the box it means the food inside is mostly cheap carbohydrates and overpriced. "You might as well just eat your money--at least that's sugar free," he quips.
--From the Editors at Netscape