Supermarkets: 7 Reasons to Shop the Inside Aisles, Not Just the Perimeter

Canned Beans

There’s an adage in foodie and health circles about grocery shopping in the supermarket:

“Shop only the store perimeter”

The perimeter is usually where you’ll find fresh produce, dairy, chilled meats, eggs, and sometimes bread. So it makes sense that buying these mostly unprocessed products and staying away from soft drinks and snack aisles will have a positive health effect on your shopping cart.

However, you may be missing out if you don’t make quick targeted forays into the center aisles as well. Here are the healthy items to be found in the central aisles:

  1. Bulk foods – beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, oatmeal, brown rice and such.The prices are usually lower than boxed or bagged, and they bulk items are usually unprocessed. Nuts will be unsalted, for example.
  2. Canned goods – such as tuna, beans, vegetables, and even fruit. Just watch for high sodium and sugar content.
  3. Frozen goods – many veggies and fruits can be purchased off season in frozen form. They are not only cheaper than “fresh” imports, they usually retain most of their nutrients because they are flash frozen at the peak of ripeness.
  4. Oils – unless you want to use butter all day, you’ll need to purchase oils. We recommend extra virgin olive oil and expeller pressed canola oil.
  5. Nut butters – peanut butter or almond butter, made from one ingredient.
  6. Condiments such as mustard and dips like hummus or salsa.
  7. Spices! You’re getting all these great unprocessed foods, which is step one. Step two is cooking, roasting, and sauteing. Add spices to increase flavor and reduce reliance

What else do you pick up from the center aisles at your grocery store?

  • Mary B.

    Whole grain pastas, whole wheat flour, coffee and tea, raisins and other dried fruits, and unsweetened cheerios for my toddler!

  • Michelle K.

    I would NOT recommend disease causing canola oil. Canola = Monsanto Rapeseed GMOs. Better options are Coconut Oil and Grapeseed Oil.

    • Caty

      Grapeseed is pretty high in PUFAs. I like olive oil and butter :)

      • Caty

        And coconut too!! Great stuff.

    • Fooducate

      Expeller pressed canola oil is sometimes from non GMO Rapeseed

      • Michelle K

        It’s a rancid oil… with so many better, natural options… you should avoid it.

      • Michelle K

        It’s still a rancid oil.

        • EVIL food scientist

          You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means…

        • Candice Zee

          Do you work for Maximized Living?

      • Caty

        Something like 95%+ of canola oil sold in n. America is GMO. I guess you could buy organic, but why? Seed oils are extracted with solvents like hexane, yum yum… Not!

        • Lisa

          Solution: hexane-free coconut oil!

    • Evidence Based Opinions

      Disease causing??? Not sure where you’re gathering this information. The distribution of fatty acids in canola oil makes it a perfectly healthy oil, up there with a few others, not really bad at all in the heart health sense. And yes, canola is the name that was given to this years ago when they started producing it, no big deal – why are you hating on the name?? Also, any oil does not fall off the plant and into a pretty bottle – they are all processed from the source in some way. And as for being GMO, the same goes for MANY food products, not canola oil in general, and besides that, the jury is still out on GMO foods. You have a silly hate-on for canola oil.

      • Evidence Based Opinions

        In addition, a FEW new studies have shown some benefits to coconut oil, but again, the jury is still out. I recommend reading up on scientific journal articles and not going by media hype. Not saying it’s bad, but evidence is inconclusive.

        • Lisa

          Even so, science isn’t god. Neither is media, but what you’re putting forth is basically a numbers game: There aren’t enough articles on x, so just go with y.

  • Sarah

    Natures Path cereals and granola bars….certified organic and GMO free!

  • Erin

    canned foods = bpa no thanks!

    • Fooducate

      There are some brands that are not BPA. Most notably, Eden Organic.

  • PieHoleBlogger (APD)

    Definitely all good reasons to shop the center. Though these items last a long time at home, so I’d say shopping the center is a once in a while need.

    For those who are against canola oil, where are the studies that show they are ‘disease causing’?

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  • Michael Gambill

    Even though I do primarily shop the perimeter, is an article telling us what is in the inner aisles necessary? Like I didn’t know that stuff was there? Like I don’t need some of that to prepare the fresh foods? Oils and spices….really? I never new. Come on, don’t write the obvious. Tell us some thing we don’t know.

  • James Cooper

    Let me note that EVOO is delicious uncooked in salads, but experiments have shown that all of that great flavor is lost upon heating, so cheaper olive oils will do just as well. And as far as GMOs go, every major scientific organization has said that science says they are completely safe and nutritionally identical.