1) Eat Before You Shop
Many of us have heard this warning before: Never shop for food when you are hungry. Why? Because that is when you are most likely to make all the wrong decisions. That sale of cookies will just look too darn good. That snack pack you never tried suddenly beacons out to you. Your mission to go pick up milk and eggs suddenly results in a cart full of junk, you aren't ever sure you actually like.
2) Make a list
If you have a list, you will be more likely to stick with it. Always have a plan.
3) Stick to the outside of the store.
Mind you, I think grocery stores are catching on to this advice and reorganizing themselves, but the average store will post it's basics (meat, milk, produce, breads) on the outskirts of the store rather than the inner isles. If you try to keep the majority of your shopping to outer edges, you will be less likely to load up your cart with junk food.
4) Save the child seat in the cart for your extras.
It's like pre-portioning before you eat. Mind you this won't help you if you have to put your child in this seat (little Timmy will bust into your container of Ben and Jerry's before you can even blink). Setting a limit on the amount of space dedicated to your 'extras' will help limit the amount of it that ends up in your house.
5) Don't get fooled by sales on the end of the isles
It may seem like a good deal, but there is a reason it's been separated from similar products: they don't want to you to compare it to others. It might be that it's less healthy than a similar brand on the shelf, or it could be that it's not really a good deal. They know you are more likely to buy it if it stands alone in bright red or yellow letters.
6) Don't get suckered in by the bulk purchase
Now if it's toilet paper and you have a family of 5 in need, go for it! However think twice about purchasing that less than healthy food just because you can get two for the price of one. Is it really going to benefit your family to have two jumbo bags of pork rinds in the house rather than one?
7) Always be weary of healthy choice symbols.
A lot of these icons like health check can just be purchased by companies and may actually have very loose terms to qualify as 'healthy'. READ THE LABLE!
There are a few other key things you can do to help avoid food traps when shopping, but start with these guidelines and I think you will finds your choices will improve quite a bit.