Tricks of the Trade


Part Deux

Well, last time I shared the beautiful ambiance (music, aroma, taste) type tricks grocery stores use to get us all to willingly and happily fork over our hard earned money to them. Today I am going to share some of the sneakier and more costly tricks stores (and the food manufacturing business) employ to get us to part with our money.

Trick # 6 Crowded Aisles 

I am not talking about people. I am talking about all those displays in the aisle you must maneuver your cart around. Why do they put them in the aisle in the first place? Well, these displays act as nothing more than “speed bumps.” These obstacle courses are designed to slow you down. Remember the simple equation from Part One? Time in the store = more profits for the store. These displays steer you towards an impulse buy.

And here all this time I thought it was just idiots running the insane asylum. Now I discover they do this on

Trick# 7   Signage Everywhere 

Remember the Canadian rock group, Five Man Electric Band and their hit song, “Signs” in the 1970’s:

Signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs
Blockin’ up the scenery, breakin’ my mind?

Every time I see a sign in a grocery store I think of that song. In the modern era grocery store there is not a zone that is sign free. Anything to break our concentration and encourage us to make an impulse buy.

Even the floors now have product ads on them. On the floor for Pete’s sake!!!!

Other signs hang from the ceiling with big arrows to direct our attention to where the store wants us to go. The stick out from the shelf sign is my favorite. Has anyone else ever inadvertently side swiped one of these causing  it to drop on the floor? I stand accused of that one.

From the ‘you can’t believe a thing these people say department’:  The words, “Special,” or “Hot Deal,” on a sign do NOT necessarily mean the item is on sale. That would be too logical. These signs are just a sign. Nothing more. The price of the item may be the same everyday price the item normally sells for. It is just another way to get our attention and to make us think we are getting a lower price when we are not.

Trick #8  End of Aisle Displays

Many of us assume that end of aisle displays are where the sale or bargain items are. Not necessarily. The items on that end of aisle spot may or may not be on sale. Many times if you just walk a little further down the aisle you will find a similar product for a lower price.

And even sneakier:  if the item appears to be on sale, the regular price the store puts on the sign so you can compare prices may be an inflated price, or worse a completely made up number, designed to make the “sale” price look good. 

These end of aisle spots are prime locations. So food manufactures vie to get that spot.  Actually the stores sell those spots to the manufacture that is willing to pay the most for them. In fact, they often make more money selling these spots to the manufactures than they do from us poor slobs trying to feed our families.   

A variation of this trick is the shelf shuffle. This is where the grocery store moves an item to a different part of the store so that you have to walk around more to find it. Remember:  Time in the store = more profits for the store.

Trick # 9  The Buy In Quantity Trick

This is the 10 for $10 trick.  Sometimes these can be a good deal, especially on pantry staples, if the before sale price was really high and if you need the item. But sometimes the item actually costs less than a $1 before the 10fer “sale.” Or the 10 for $10 price saves you only a penny or two. You have to check it out. The psychology here is that we tend to believe  ‘ONLY $1 is a bargain,’ without thinking about it. And that is precisely what stores do not want us to do:  T.H.I.N.K.

A corollary to this is the shrinking product size that still cost the same or more. This happens all the time and many times the package size is or looks the same, but the total ounces in the package is less. So we end up getting less food for the same or a higher price. 

Trick # 10  Bigger Is Always Better

This trick is corollary and a different version of Trick #9.  That is the bigger size box or can is always cheaper. Not necessarily so.

From the John Tesh website:   

Tod Marks is a senior editor at Consumer Reports, and he and his team found that one out of four times, a smaller version of a product was cheaper per ounce, per pound, or per serving than the bigger version. So look for the “unit price” and compare that instead of assuming that bigger means cheaper.

I have mentioned this before but it is worth mentioning again if you want to save money. Again from the John Tesh website: 

Pre-cut fruit, vegetables, and cheese. Yes, these items can reduce your time in the kitchen, but know this: Consumer Reports found that six ounces of pre-shredded carrots cost five times MORE  [emphasis mine] than a comparable handful of whole carrots.

I have purchased precut before. Sometimes convenience just trumps expense. That’s life! But I make it a conscious decision and I know I am not getting a bargain.

There are dozens more ticks that grocery stores use to get us to spend more money. But the ten I have highlighted over these two posts are most of the major ways stores get us to spend more than we intended at the grocery store.

Knowing and being aware will help us to avoid these tricks and more importantly – SAVE MONEY.

Next time I will share some ways to avoid these tricks.

After all that shopping I am starving. So on to the:

Featured Recipe:  Pesto Sauce

I got a hankering for Pesto Sauce a few days ago. So I made some. If you have never tasted fresh Pesto Sauce you are in for a real treat. Once you have tasted fresh Pesto the jar or frozen kind just won’t cut it ever again.

This is what you will need for 2 people:

1 cup loosely packed fresh basil

2 garlic cloves (not pictured)

2 tablespoons pine nuts

1/3 cup olive oil

¼ cup Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Pasta of your choice

Some cheese and a few pine nuts for garnish 

Here is what you do: 

Recipes do not get any easier than this. 

You can use regular store bought grated Parmesan cheese. But I had some block Parmesan in the fridge so I grated my own.

Then simply dump the first six ingredients into a processor.

Process until well chopped.

With the machine on add olive oil in a slow steady stream until well mixed.

This picture is not half bad considering I took it while adding the olive oil to the processor. I am so humble!!!

The finished product.

Pour over cooked pasta. Add some more grated cheese and pine nuts on top as garnish. I also served with some left over Mixed Tomato Salad from the last post.

It is traditional to use angel hair pasta for Pesto. But for some reason I almost alwways use rotini. I am weird that way. But humble!!!

Doesn’t that look like a wonderful hot & humid day meal?  Except for the pasta I did not have to cook anything. Wonderful! Wonderful!!!!

If you do not use all of the fresh pesto sauce at one time it can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. Cover the sauce in about ¼ to ½ inch of olive oil…….

 and then cover the bowl with plastic wrap.


Not only do I like pesto on pasta, I love it on crackers too, especially on Savory Sesame crackers. Pesto on crackers makes  nice hor d’oeuvres as well. I even like it for breakfast on crackers accompanied with a hard boiled egg. You can even drip some pesto sauce over sliced hard boiled eggs for a wonderful appetizer as well. Or have you ever had cooked vegetables topped with Pesto. Delicious!! Pesto spread on good crusty bread is also a treat. You can use it as a marinade on chicken or shrimp. Some folks have even used it as a replacement for tomato sauce on pizza.

Its uses are seemingly endless. How do you use Pesto Sauce? Share your ideas in the comment section.

And oh! Did I mention Pesto Sauce is healthy too!!!


1 cup fresh basil          $2.00

2 garlic cloves             $0.18

2 tbsp pine nuts*        $1.70        

1/3 cup olive oil          $0.50

¼ cup Parmesan        $1.00

Salt and pepper to taste —

Pasta of your choice    $0.66

* If you cannot afford pine nuts substitute walnuts.

Total Cost for 2 people = $6.04
Total Cost per person = $3.02

I think fresh Pesto is a better bargain than store bought. And healthier as there will be no preservatives and no chemical flavorings. Just simple, real ingredients.

Bon Appetit!!!!

Quote of the Day:   It would be nice if the Food and Drug Administration stopped issuing warnings about toxic substances and just gave me the names of one or two things still safe to eat.  Robert Fuoss

Print Friendly

1 comment to Tricks of the Trade