If you've ever searched the aisles for healthy chicken, you know there are a lot of options out there, but what do these labels really mean, and how can you make sure you're getting what you pay for?
We've all heard the term "farm raised," but according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, this label simply means that a chicken was born and raised on a farm. It doesn't define how they were treated. Technically, all chickens are farm-raised, so this label really has no meaning.
Another term to watch out for is "natural." While it's a popular marketing phrase, this label doesn't carry an weight either.
You've also probably seen the label "hormone-free." What most people don't know is that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration already prohibits the use of any artificial hormones in the production of poultry. That means any brand of chicken can be labeled "hormone-free."
Another term that can be deceiving is "free range." There are currently no industry standards that specifically define what a "free range" farm is. It could be anything from an open yard to a small, penned-in area.
As a result, 99 percent of poultry labeled "free range" simply isn't. You'll have to go to a local farm or farmer's market to get true free-range chicken.
Lastly, we have "organic," which is the only label that guarantees certain standards. This term means that there are no antibiotics used, and that 100 percent of the chicken's feed must be grown without chemical fertilizers, herbicides and other genetically-modified organisms for at least three years.
While these chickens may be more expensive, they're also much more nutritious and definitely worth the extra cost. So remember, sometimes the real savings happen when you know what you're paying for.
Are you an "aisle blocker"? Perhaps you're a dreaded "express lane abuser"? If you can lay claim to either of these titles, we have two words for you: Stop it! These two types of people are at the center of frustrating experiences No. 4 and No. 5 on our 20 Most Annoying Things at the Grocery Store list.
Click through our gallery to see how many of these pesky supermarket situations you recognize from shopping at your local store. ' Post: What's Your Top Grocery Gripe?
In theory, these oversized kid-mobiles make perfect sense: Keep Junior entertained as he "drives" his toy car, so mom or dad can get their shopping done. But in reality, the mere presence of these behemoths can be groan-inducing. These colossal carts are impossible to steer and maneuver. And they are not only annoying for the beleaguered cart pusher, but also for the innocent bystanders trying to squeeze by or not get hit. Unfortunately, almost all toddlers clamor for and insist upon riding in one of these special carts, so parents have little luck in bypassing them.
No one wants to hear your child scream and carry on for 30 minutes because they can't get Oreos. If your child's screams can be heard four aisles over and the tantrum is lasting longer than five minutes, it's time to leave the store. But sadly, tantrums are not just for kids. One AOL Money & Finance editor witnessed a seemingly "normal" woman go on a verbal rampage (expletives included) because the produce section was out of basil.
Are you an "aisle blocker"? You know the type -- reading labels, searching through coupons or on the cell phone -- completely oblivious to the fact that you're blocking the entire aisle with your cart. Perhaps you are unaware that you are in the way. Perhaps you know, but just don't care. In either case, you are just plain annoying.
You have one gallon of milk to purchase. You are about to walk into the express lane (which clearly states 10 items or less), when in front of you pulls a shopper with a cart overflowing with groceries. This isn't the "I-am-not-sure-if-I-have-10-or-11-items" cart, it's the "I-am-feeding-a-family-of-seven-and-we-eat-a-lot" cart.
Whether they are pushing the kid-sized carts into your heels (ouch!) or gliding down the aisles in their Heelys (read: sneakers with retractable wheels) -- grocery stores and kids on wheels just don't mix.
Don't be the shopper who waits until the very last minute to find her checkbook and begin filling out her personal check. If you are paying by check, which already takes longer than most other methods of payment, here's a hint: Have your checkbook out and your check pre-filled, so that when you get the final total that's all you need to pop in! (Same goes for debit cards, credit cards, cash or any other type of payment -- you shouldn't be digging through your purse for it at the last minute!)
We are sure you'll agree that people who are pretty certain they won't have enough money to pay for all their groceries, but wait until the entire order is rung up to figure out what they will put back, qualify for our most annoying list. If you can't keep a running tally in your head (which is certainly understandable), we suggest bringing a small calculator. Your fellow shoppers will thank you.
It used to be that you could walk down the aisle and little hanging tags would alert you to items that were on "sale." It's not so easy anymore. Nowadays, there are little tags for just about everything, including tags to just let you know this is an "Everyday Low Price."
When you see chips on sale at a 10-for-$10 price, what do you do? Do you buy all 10 to get the buck-a-piece price? Well, that's certainly what the grocery stores want you to do. But a little-known secret is that in most grocery chains, those items will ring up for one dollar each -- no matter how many you buy. The same goes with most "Buy One, Get One Free" offers. Typically, if you want just one of the item, it will ring up at 1/2 price. Check with your grocery store first, but then shop smugly as you snap up just the amount you want and need, while still getting the sale price. Next: That's Gotta Sting
Even the most eagle-eyed shoppers have probably been stung by No. 11 on our list at some point in their grocery shopping lives. Here at WalletPop, we find that it almost physically smarts to buy food that is past the expiration date, damaged or opened -- and not realize it until after you get home.
Maybe there were no other carts left. Maybe you were rushing into the store and didn't take notice until you were well past the shopping cart corral. Then it happens. You want to go straight, but your cart has a bum wheel and keeps veering right, you notice an incessant squeak that JUST WON'T STOP or as you go to place items in your cart you realize there is some mystery substance smeared all over it. Worse yet -- you take a cart back for one problem and end up with a cart with another problem.
Not only do we find No. 13 annoying, we also find it to be a financial security risk. We prefer our checkout PIN pads with privacy screening, please. When you are talking about minimizing the risk of identity theft, you can never be too careful.
It can be annoying enough to wait forever in a long checkout line, but it's a special kind of annoying to be waiting forever in a long checkout line while 90% of the store's registers are closed -- even during prime shopping time. Poor planning? Everyone call in sick? Store cost cutting? You're undoubtedly left with plenty of time to ponder the reason for the apparent silliness.
Not only do we get peeved when sale items don't ring up as they should (good thing we were watching!), but we find it especially frustrating when the cashier is rude when we ask him to rectify the problem.
You're in a hurry, there aren't enough cashiers, the express lane is full of "abusers," so you try the self-checkout lane only to find that something isn't scanning and you have to wait for a cashier to be called over to help you anyway. So much for time saved!
Whether it's an item that is located in a section that makes absolutely no sense or a favorite item that has abruptly been moved from its familiar spot, we hate wandering up and down the aisles growling, "Where the heck is it?!"
Last on our list of grocery store annoyances is when people keep the frozen food doors open so long -- as they hem and haw over what to buy -- that they leave the doors all frosty and foggy so the next shopper can't see what's inside.
Now that you've seen what we think are the most annoying things at the grocery store, tell us what we missed! What are your biggest sore spots when it comes to supermarket shopping? Or tell us which grocery stores you love to shop at -- and which you hate!