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Shop the outer edges of the grocery store reduce buying from the inner isles. The fresh food/meat/dairy is on the outside. The processed food is on the inside.

I've heard this piece of advice many times, and I don't think it's true, especially when you're looking at cost. (Maybe from a purely health standpoint, although I think it's too simplistic.)

For example, is it better to buy expensive "fresh" tomatoes most of the year, or buy good quality canned tomatoes? Except for a few weeks in June and July when fresh tomatoes are available, I would stick with the canned version - and they're cheaper.

At least at my supermarket, the outside aisles contain a lot of pre-made and processed foods. They are full of things like roasted rotisserie chickens, store-made microwave meals, packaged "fresh" pasta and pasta sauces, fruits and vegetables that have been pre-cut and packaged. Some of these things are somewhat healthy, and I don't mind buying pre-cut veggies to save me some time, but you're paying dearly for that time saver. Not cheaper.

On the other hand, frozen vegetables have been shown to have equal nutrition to fresh, and they're usually quite a bit cheaper. Getting the best flavor from them can be challenging, but they're usually a bargain compared to fresh, at least at the stores where I shop. Even in-season vegetables can often be pricey.

I think you have to pick and choose from both sections of the store to get the best combination of flavor, health and cost - and cost-wise, the inner aisles have some bargains that aren't just "processed foods".

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