Fortunately, people have come up with a number of tips that are saving shoppers both time and money in the grocery store. Follow these recommendations and you’ll never be left shocked and frustrated by the total on your receipt again. Not only will you be able to keep more money in your wallet, but you’ll save some time as well!
Don’t Be Fooled by These Deals
Grocery stores will often offer a reduced price on an item if you buy a certain amount. For example, they might have a sign for two boxes of cereal for $5.
However, it may not be necessary to buy both boxes to get the sale price. If you read the fine print, you may notice that you can buy a single box of that cereal for $2.50.
Groceries Are Designed to Appeal to Children
While it’s obvious that some foods made for kids do their best to appeal to kids by featuring Disney characters or prizes, your supermarket is making sure kids see them.
They do this by putting them on lower shelves, at eye level with toddlers. So, when your children start pulling things off shelves and begging to bring them home, you know who to blame!
Leave the Kids at Home
While it may be hard to find someone to keep an eye on the kids while you run your errands, the truth is that having them with you tends to cost you both time and money.
By keeping them at home, you won’t have anyone holding you up in the aisles or begging you for items that simply aren’t in the budget. If they’re in school during the day, this might be the best time to get things done.
Skip Small Temptations
Grocery stores know that putting small items near the checkout counter offers a kind of temptation that many can’t resist. This is why it’s the best area for sugary treats like candy bars, gum, and soda.
Don’t give in to these sales tricks! They may only add a few dollars to your total, but these items are also significantly over-priced.
Don't Be an Early Bird
Get to the farmer’s market late. If you’re one to browse the farmer’s markets on weekends, you might already know this trick.
Going later in the day can help you snag some reduced-price fruits and vegetables. Sellers will often prefer to give you a deal if it means having less produce to pack up.
Turn It on Its Head
Always have a tub of cottage cheese in the refrigerator? Try storing it upside down! It can significantly increase its shelf life, ensuring you get to enjoy it all before it goes bad.
Just be careful when you reach for it in the morning as gravity can lead to disaster! Just make sure the lid is always properly closed and you should be fine.
Avoid Premade Meals
Whether they’re on sale or not, premade meals are not only unhealthy but more costly than they’re worth.
While it may take a bit of time and effort, you’re far better off making a meal on your own. It’ll be healthier and likely far tastier than any frozen dinner!
Don’t Fall for Limits
When a store sells an item at a limited amount, it’s likely a sales trick meant to mess with your consumer brain.
Putting a limit on something makes it more desirable, and even though you may not have wanted to buy five rolls of aluminum foil, you’re far more likely to throw it in your cart when they appear to be in short supply.
Empty Shelves Aren't Really Empty
Empty shelves are another sales trick to make you buy more things you don't really need. When the shelves aren’t fully stocked, it appears like the item is in high demand.
This is another method used in grocery stores, as it makes people feel like they need to buy something before it’s completely sold out. If it’s not on your list, you don’t need it!
Switch to Kosher Salt
Most people don’t realize that kosher salt offers a better value than other options. It's usually more common in cooking rather than at the table, but we're not here to tell you how to live your life.
In addition to being made up of larger crystals for the price, many claim it also tastes better. It’s definitely worth giving it a try!
Give the Store Brand a Try
While some items may be hit or miss, often the store brand is just as good or even better than the original. There’s no reason to spend the extra money on brand name condiments, spices, or pasta.
Save a few bucks and buy the store brand whenever possible. You never know, you just might like them better!
Do Your Homework
Learn your grocery store’s sale patterns. After a few months of clipping coupons and reviewing your local grocery store’s monthly flyer, you’ll soon notice that their sales tend to repeat.
If beef goes on sale at the end of this month, it will likely be on sale at the end of next month as well. Knowing this can help you save money and plan your meals accordingly!
Popular Brands Are Placed at Eye Level
Just how products created for kids are put on the lower shelves, top brands are put on higher shelves so that they’re eye level with most adults.
There are several reasons they do this. Popular brands tend to catch the eye, and they’re also more expensive. Any discount or bargain brands are kept below the pricier versions.
Understand the Grocery Store Layout
Almost all grocery stores follow the same general layout. They put all of the essentials like dairy, produce, and meats on the perimeter while all of the junk food and filler items are in the middle.
Understanding this design can help you to avoid the aisles that not only carry items that are unhealthy but that may be tempting as well. Save your time and money by skipping to the store’s perimeter.
Avoid Grocery Stores During Peak Hours
It may be convenient to stop at the grocery store on the way home from work or on a Sunday morning, these are the times the store is most crowded.
Shopping during these times will potentially make you flustered and less likely to stay on budget. Instead, head to the supermarket during off-peak hours so you can put your full attention on sticking to your list and your budget.
Bright Sale Signs Are Misleading
While we may all get excited when we see those bright yellow and red signs that indicate our favorite brands are on sale, the deal being offered might not be as great as it looks.
Discounts are often calculated by the weight of an item. So, while the discount may be worth your while when purchasing heavier items, it may not be when small items are being considered.
Chat With the Butcher
If you’re on a tight budget but are reluctant to buy cheaper meat at the deli counter, talk to the butcher. Ask them what the difference is between cuts and what your options are.
They’re there to assist you and likely they will teach you a thing or two about buying the right meats for you and your family.
Ask for a Raincheck
When a supermarket is having a great deal on something, they’ll often run out of that item quickly. It may seem like you’ve missed out, but most grocery stores will offer something called a raincheck.
Asking for it simply means you ask for the sale to be reserved for later. Simply ask for it at the register and you’ll be able to get the deal when the item is back in stock.
Mix it up
Mix premium coffee with the cheap stuff! While we all know that avoiding Starbucks and making coffee at home can help save a hefty amount of money, this tip allows you to get cafe quality without having to pay for it.
Since quality coffee beans tend to be pricey, this tip suggests mixing the high-quality stuff with a bit of the cheap stuff. This will help stretch your dollar without sacrificing the taste of your morning cup of joe.
Items at the End of Aisles Are Pricey
Signs surrounding items placed at the end of supermarket aisles often allude to the fact that these products are on sale, but that’s not usually the case.
This is where stores are more likely to put their more expensive items as it catches the eye of customers. If you walk down the aisle that product is sold on, you’ll likely find a similar item for a cheaper price.
Grocery Stores Make Their Own Prices for Items
Have you ever noticed that your favorite brand of coffee may cost more in some stores than it does in others? Well, it does.
That’s because grocery stores come up with their own price points for the items they sell. For this reason, some items may cost more in affluent neighborhoods than they do in others.
Stores Price Essential Items Lower
Many people will form their opinion about a store's prices based on just a few essential items, such as bread, milk, and eggs. Grocery stores keep the cost of these items low so that people are given the impression that their prices are reasonable.
However, if you do some comparisons to other local stores, you might find that they’ve been overcharging you on cereal or coffee for years.
Make Sure You’re Getting the Flyers
It can be hard to clip coupons if you aren’t getting the grocery store’s flyers sent to your house. Find out what newspaper they come in and subscribe to receive them. You might also be able to get the flyer online or in-store.
If you notice that your neighbor tends to put their supermarket flyers out with the trash without so much as glancing at them, ask them to stick them in your mailbox instead. There’s no reason for them to just go to waste!
Make Room in Your Freezer
There’s no reason to go to the grocery store every week. If you make enough room in your freezer, you can stock up on enough meals for several weeks or even an entire month.
Practically anything can be frozen from meats to coffee, so why not take advantage of that space? If you have a large family, you might even want to consider investing in a spare freezer. Think of all that time you’ll have to get things done when you don’t have to make weekly runs to the store!
Bakeries Are Designed to Trigger Hunger
When you first walk into a grocery store, if they have an in-house bakery, it’s likely right there in the front.
The smell is intended to trigger hunger, which ultimately gets customers to buy more groceries. Even those who have just eaten are shown to fall victim to this sales technique.
It may seem time-consuming, but you can literally clip coupons while you have your morning coffee or are sitting in front of the television.
Knowing what’s on sale before you head to the supermarket will not only save you money, but it’ll also save you time when you’re in the store. The best part is handing over your coupons when you’re at the register and watching your total get lower and lower!
No Quick Stops
Avoid making quick stops at the grocery store. Despite craving that premade rotisserie chicken specially made at your local grocery store, it’s better to avoid making any quick stops on your way home from work.
Not only are you more likely to pick up more than just that chicken you wanted, but you’re spending time at the store when you probably have plenty of food at home in your pantry.
No Shopping While Hungry
Don’t shop for food when you’re hungry. You’ve likely heard this tip before, but that's only because it works! Making a trip to the grocery store when you’re hungry is far more likely to lead to impulse buying.
Instead, go to the supermarket after having a hefty meal or have a snack before you leave your house. Your bank account will thank you!
Invest in Reusable Grocery Bags
If you live in an area where supermarkets are charging for plastic grocery bags, it’s definitely worth it to bring your own totes when you go shopping.
Not only are reusable bags better for the environment, but they don’t cost you anything extra at the register. You can easily get some canvas bags for a dollar or less!
Tiny Cans Don’t Lead to Less Consumption
If you frequent the soda or juice aisles, then you’ve likely noticed that they also come in extra small cans or bottles. While it may appear like they’re designed this way for those who want to consume fewer sugary drinks, it has been found that people actually consume more.
Since drinks at this size aren’t very filling, people tend to drink two or more, leading to more sales of the product.
Checkout Aisles Are Intentionally Narrow
Ever get frustrated with how narrow the checkout aisles are? Well, this design flaw is actually intentional. When lines are long, we tend to second-guess our purchase decisions.
Those narrow checkout aisles are created so that shopping carts can barely fit through them so it’s more difficult to put items back so this deters people from changing their minds.
Shop at More Than One Grocery Store
Who says you have to do all of your shopping at one supermarket? Instead, check out the deals at two or three local grocery stores each month and be selective.
Split your shopping list in half and buy the items from the store with the best price. This doesn’t mean you need to go to two different stores in a single day though. Simply change where you shop on alternative weeks based on your needs.
Buy Some Items in Bulk
Often you can save money by buying things in bulk. Unless you have a large family, however, food tends to spoil. For this reason, you may want to stick to toiletries and pantry items when buying anything in large quantities.
Think canned goods, toilet paper, and pasta. If you enjoy cooking, however, you can buy food in bulk, cook it, and simply freeze it to ensure it doesn’t spoil.
Grocery stores entice customers with specific scents. Nothing is more unappealing to a customer in a supermarket than an unpleasant smell.
For this reason, grocery stores put a bit of effort into the scents circulating their aisle. They will often sell flowers and cooked food to entice customers with pleasant smells and keep them in stores longer.
Stay Alert During Checkout
When you’re being rung up, make sure to keep an eye on the price of each item getting rung up. Whether it’s a system error or a mistake on the cashier’s part, it’s not uncommon to be overcharged.
If you’re watching the register during check out or take a moment to review the receipt later, you’re less likely to get ripped off.
Be Cautious of Buying Produce Sold by the Pound
Selling produce by the pound can often confuse consumers. Sometimes the individual item will clarify the exact price based on how many pounds are in the container, but other times we may be left doing the math in our heads.
Be sure to compare how much more produce you can get for that extra 30 cents before making any final purchasing decisions.
Don’t Waste Your Leftovers
It may be difficult to get the kids to dig into any leftovers in the refrigerator, but that doesn’t mean they should go to waste.
It’s important to serve these meals soon after they’re made or freeze them for later consumption, especially if you’re trying to save a few bucks. Not only will you end up saving money, but you’ll also save time by not having to cook another meal.
Music Keeps Customers Shopping Longer
The music played in grocery stores is quite unique as it’s designed to keep customers wandering around the aisle for as long as possible.
They do this by playing slow-paced soothing tunes that have a calming effect on those in the store. When customers aren’t in a rush, they’re more likely to spend more money.
Use reusable water bottles. Rather than wasting your money on cases of plastic water bottles, opt for a reusable option instead.
Not only does it reduce the amount of plastic waste, but it’ll help you save a ton of money. If you don’t live in a city with safe tap water, using filters can help you save money as well.
Free Samples Lead to More Purchases
A study done by the Journal of Consumer Research found that customers are more likely to spend more money if they receive a free sample. The sample can be as small as a piece of chocolate or a new liquor flavor.
Those who accept the sample are more likely to spend more money by buying more or buying more expensive items. If you’re on a budget, those free samples might not be free after all.
Items at the Front of the Store Have Been Touched a Lot
It’s a proven fact that consumers are more likely to purchase an item that they can hold and thoroughly inspect. You will often find that the produce and snacks are one of the first things you see when you walk into the grocery store. This means that they’re touched by nearly everyone who walks in.
If you want to buy any of these items, you’re better off getting them from the usual display area where they are less likely to have had people's hands on them.
Buy the Whole Thing
Always buy a full chicken over precut options. Chicken may be a staple in most households, but few people know that by buying precut chicken breasts or legs, you’re throwing away your money.
Buying the chicken as a whole will save you money, which can add up to a significant amount of dough over time. You don’t have to be a pro in the kitchen to learn how to butcher the chicken into appropriate portions.
Mind the Colors
Colorful items are kept at the front because i t has been proven that bright and colorful things make people happy.
For this reason, stores will create displays that fit this description at the front of the store so it’s the first thing customers see when they walk in. A happy customer is more likely to spend more money!
Use the Store’s Discount Card
More often than not, any deals at the supermarket will only be applied if you use the store’s discount card. Keep it with you on your keychain and try to remember to swipe it, even if you aren’t expecting to save any money.
If the store has a points system, you’ll still be able to collect some. Forgot your card at home? Most supermarkets will allow you to enter your phone number to add your purchase to your account and enable your discounts.
Shopping Carts Encourage Spending
It may be hard to believe, but shopping carts are actually designed to get customers to fill them to the max.
Some stores have even started experimenting with larger carts to see if it will lead to more sales. Turns out a bigger shopping cart will cause customers to spend more!
Tallying Your Total Will Help You Spend Less
Most of us go food shopping with a budget in mind, but find it difficult to stick to. By tallying up your total as you place items in your cart, you’ll be able to get a better idea of whether or not you can afford that extra bag of chips or frozen pizza.
It’s unreasonable to walk around the grocery store with a calculator in hand, but by rounding up to the nearest dollar you can get an idea of what you’ll be spending while also accounting for taxes.
Don’t Forget to Look Into Online Exclusives
Retail stores aren’t the only ones out there offering exclusive online deals. Many supermarkets also offer online coupons and sales for their VIP customers.
If they offer delivery or pickup services, you can also look into deals when you sign up for the first time.
Supermarkets Intentionally Keep Essential Items in the Back
Ever wonder why your local grocery store keeps the milk and the meats all the way in the back? It’s because these are items most people buy, and you’re forced to walk through other aisles in order to get to them.
Customers are more likely to see something else they want to buy on their way to the back of the store and spend more money than they intended. Stay focused and don't get tempted!
Watering Produce Doesn’t Keep It Fresh
You’ve likely noticed that water routinely sprays the produce at your local supermarkets. Many people believe this is done to keep the fruit and vegetables fresh, but it’s actually to help increase sales.
When the produce is damp, it’s given a just-picked appearance that makes it *look* fresh and more appealing to consumers.
Learn to Stack Coupons
In recent years, clipping coupons has become somewhat of an art form. So much so, that several networks have created television shows solely based on this skill.
When you stack coupons, you take those from the manufacturer and use them in addition to the coupons offered by the store. Doing this right will get you the best prices around!