Kroger Is Changing the Way You Shop for Groceries

The nation's largest supermarket chain to reshaping the way America grocery shops, one cart at a time.

Editors’ Note: The OptUP app is no longer supported and is not available to download. However, you can access similar features within the Kroger app.

Lately, it seems like the word “healthy” is on everyone’s mind. Whether it’s choosing to go low-carb (or keto), low-sodium, meatless or Mediterranean, people are choosing to redefine the way they eat.

But when you head to the supermarket, where there are literally thousands of ingredients within reach, it’s not always easy to determine what’s going to be good for your body and what’s not. Common sense says a bundle of kale is better for you than a tub of ice cream—but how do you know which pasta sauce is the healthiest? Or if your protein bar is actually a candy bar in disguise?

“Eight out of 10 customers are confused about nutrition and regularly doubt what they’re putting in their mouths,” said Allison Kuhn (M.S., R.D., L.N.), Director of Retail Nutrition at Kroger. “Less than half of them can connect a food or nutrient to a health benefit that they care about.” That’s why Kroger created a feature within its smartphone app called OptUP.

What Is OptUP?

Developed by a dedicated team of registered dietitians, analysts and experts, OptUP is a small but powerful feature within the Kroger mobile app that shares access to comprehensive nutrition information for thousands of products in a super user-friendly way. Kroger’s goal? Make healthy eating simple.

Each food item is given a 1-100 rating. Less healthy items, like a Hershey’s bar, fall to the bottom of the scale, while all fresh produce is ranked at the top of the list. You can see simplified nutritional information on your smartphone by scanning the barcode of an item while shopping.

“This is not about telling people what’s good and bad, what you should and shouldn’t eat, instituting food guilt or anything like that,” Kuhns explains, “this is that guidance around balance and intuitive eating.”

Here’s how you can save money at Kroger.

How It Works

Compare Ingredients

To use the OptUP feature on your Kroger app, you can either search for ingredients or scan items at the store to find its OptUp nutrition rating. To test the feature, I looked up the ingredients I needed for my favorite peanut butter oatmeal recipe. I found the old-fashioned oats, honey and flaxseed were all healthy choices, scoring in the “green zone” of 71 points or more. When I got to the peanut butter section, I was shocked to see the results. Some of the usual brands I reached for were actually pretty unhealthy.

I compared my favorite peanut butter to the other peanut butter brands on the list and was surprised to find that it was one of the least healthy options I could buy. The app then introduced me to a new brand that had a much higher nutritional rating.

Track Your Shopping Habits

Another special feature Kroger has available—and one I find most appealing—is the ability to track your shopping tendencies over time. By using your grocery store savings card linked to your Kroger account, you are able to access a breakdown of just how healthy your recent shopping trips have been.

After you shop, head to More > My Nutrition Insights on the app or log into your account on Kroger’s website to see your personalized nutritional insights powered by OptUp. Based on recent purchases, you’ll be given a score that averages the nutritional value of your groceries on a scale of 0-1,000. It even tracks your weekly progress on a nifty pie chart.

This system makes grocery shopping game-like, as you’re urged to raise your score each time you shop. If my score fell a few points, I made sure that my next visit was even better by stocking up on these simple healthy ingredients dietitians always have on hand. If you’d like even more grocery guidance, Kroger’s Little Clinic can help.

Should You Try It?

After testing out this feature for a few months, I’d say that it helped me be more mindful at the store—especially when it came to shopping in the packaged goods aisles. However, if you’re one to keep a food diary, know that this isn’t a replacement. Since you’re not technically logging what you eat and to what extent, you might end up overindulging in even the healthiest foods in your shopping cart. Learn about healthy foods you should only eat in moderation.

Another possible downside is that when you’re purchasing groceries for your friends or family, their eating habits might affect your own OptUP score.

That all being said, I’d suggest giving the app a go. You might find yourself making healthier choices—or even find a new favorite brand of peanut butter. Download the Kroger app for Apple or Android.

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Nicole Doster
Nicole is the Content Director of TMB's Strategy and Performance team. She oversees the brand's shopping and trend editorial teams and assists with content planning across Taste of Home, Family Handyman, Reader's Digest, The Healthy and Birds & Blooms. With over seven years of experience writing and editing in the food and home space, she enjoys sharing cooking tips, recipe picks and product recommendations that make life a little easier. When she's not hunched over her laptop, she's either practicing latte art or fixating on her latest DIY home renovation.