10 Smart Shopping Lessons Learned from Flavortown Market

Smart shoppers know what they want, when to snap up a deal and when to shy away from sly supermarket ploys.

Photo By: David Moir

Photo By: David Moir

Photo By: David Moir

Photo By: David Moir ©© 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: David Moir ©© 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: David Moir

Photo By: David Moir

Photo By: David Moir ©© 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: David Moir

Photo By: David Moir ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: David Moir

Get Smarter at Shopping

Being a contestant on Guy's Grocery Games means proving not only your cooking chops, but also your shopping prowess. The best cooks carefully source their food to find the best ingredients at the right price point. Here are 10 smart shopping lessons learned straight from the games.

10: Stick with the Basics

Pantry staples as simple as salt, sugar and pepper can go a long way when it comes to flavor development — enough to rock any critical judge's world. The savviest contestants on Guy's Grocery Games always check their stations for hidden flavor gems before spending extra time or money on gimmicky flavored oils and single-use spices.

9: Use All of What You Have

Judges regularly scold contestants for forgetting to use ingredients in their cart. Take stock of what you have in the fridge and pantry before heading to the store, so you buy only what you need. Then you won't find yourself throwing out that half-used onion, now-moldy block of cheese or shriveled bag of green beans and suffering through any heart-sinking regret.

8: Make a Grocery List

3,2,1 ... Every good contestant runs through Flavortown with at least some kind of a game plan. You have more time to collect your culinary thoughts than the cooks on the show, so write a list before you head to the store. This way, you can stay focused on what you need and ward off the temptation to make unnecessary impulse purchases.

7: Think Less Is More

Those giant grocery carts aren't always to your benefit, as they often lead to buying lots of extra food you don't need for your meal. No Carts Allowed and Kiddie Carts might be two of the most-dreaded games up Guy's sleeve, but time and time again the Flavortown cooks pull off delicious meals using only what they can carry. Next time you head to the store, challenge yourself to buy only what you need by reaching for a basket instead of a large cart.

6: Be Open to Flexibility

Did somebody say Red Light Special? The Flavortown shoppers who skip the in-store deals or pass up coupons definitely pay a price with the judges. Planning your list is great, but if you notice that you can get a pound of pork for half the price of those chicken breasts on your list, some flexibility might be to your wallet's benefit.

5: Watch Your Weight

Pricing is designed to play tricks on you. Any Grocery Games contestant can testify that the scales in the produce aisle can be a real lifesaver when you need to know if the price per pound is the better deal than the prepackaged option.

4: Save with Substitutions

When Guy declares a Budget Battle, the competitors must keep their spending as low as possible, while still delivering flavor-packed dishes to the judges' table. Sometimes this means substituting less expensive, but no less flavorful, items for the pricier foods in their carts — such as sour cream thinned with heavy cream for creme fraiche or dried herbs in lieu of fresh. You can sometimes save by substituting specialty items in recipes for ones you already have in your fridge or pantry.

3: Avoid the Lure of the Sample Table

Guy loves throwing the Keep It Sample curve ball: forcing contestants to incorporate sample items featured in the store in their dishes. In real life, sample tables are used to lure shoppers and get them to buy foods that probably aren't on their lists. Avoid this trap by shopping on a full stomach and staying away from those seemingly friendly trays of free food.

2: Prep Your Own Veggies

The refrigerated cases are packed with tempting timesavers, like diced onions, trimmed green beans, and peeled and julienned carrots. Guy's contestants might be tempted to reach for the shortcut, but beware: The already prepped veggie costs a lot more. Plus, it limits the use of that onion to diced and that carrot to julienned strands.

1: Know and Love the Layout

Competitors who are familiar with the layout of the store are consistently at an advantage, getting in and out of Flavortown and on to cooking faster. Knowing that fresh foods are typically stocked on the perimeter of the store, with grocery, bulk and other items lining the aisles, doesn't hurt when there is a clock counting down — or, in real life, your hungry family.

More Guy's Grocery Games

Watch the competition on Sundays at 8|7c to see how the competitors survive Guy's notorious games, and visit Triple G headquarters for more inspiration on how to make smart shopping decisions.

Guy's Grocery Games

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Guy's Grocery Games