Some people love going grocery shopping (something I have a hard time relating to)….but I think most of us find it to be a “necessary evil.” It’s nothing personal against my neighborhood grocery store (I love them!) and I certainly don’t take for granted the fact that I am fortunate enough to have this “chore.”
I guess I just don’t enjoy the process of grocery shopping…and I definitely don’t ENJOY paying for it. :-) I’ve started doing quite a bit of online shopping to replace some of my grocery store trips….but I don’t get the same sort of inspiration for cooking that I do browsing the aisles. Plus, in my supermarket, I know exactly where to go for what. Finding certain things online can be tricky.
After doing research on some of the little-known services (at least they were to me!) that grocery stores offer, I have a whole new appreciation for my hometown grocery store! I think you will too!
Sales and Discounts
- Save your receipts when you find a great deal on something. It’s an easy way to keep track of the best deals so you know when to stock up.
- Always read the fine print on sale posters! Most of the time sale prices apply to certain package sizes. You might accidentally grab the wrong size and end up paying full price.
- Don’t let specials fool you into buying more than you need. Studies have found that people buy 30%-100% more than on sales like “5 for $10” than they would have otherwise.
- Always ask for discounts on dented cans. You might not always get a discount but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
- If you see an advertised 10 for $10 promotion make sure the original price of the item isn’t less than $1.
- Products displayed on end caps are not usually on sale. Those spots are sold to companies trying to promote certain items.
- Not everything shown in the weekly ad is on sale! Always read the fine print so you don’t end up buying something just because you thought it was on sale.
- Most sales start on Wednesdays. That is also the time that many stores reduce prices on food that is about to expire.
- Keep an eye out for grocery store clearance sections. Marked down times are not necessarily about to expire – the store may just be discontinuing that item.
- If you want to stock up on a sale item ask your grocery store if they will place a special order to arrive during the sale so you don’t clear the shelf for other customers.
- Always ask store managers if you have to buy as many products as a deal advertises in order to get the sale price. For example, if you see a 10 for $10 sale you may not have to buy 10 items to get the sale price.
- Butchers offer many free services that customers may not know about! You just have to ask. Most butchers are willing to slice canned meat, tenderize meat, trim up a cut of meat or even grind meat for you.
- If you’re unsure how to cook a certain type of meat, don’t be afraid to ask your butcher for suggestions.
- Are you stuck in a dinner rut? Ask your butcher for recipe ideas using your favorite cuts of meat.
- When checking out products at the fresh seafood counter, look at the small type on the labels. Some products will be labeled “previously frozen.” When you find those products always check the frozen food section to see if that type of fish is cheaper when still frozen.
- Some butchers are willing to coat your meat or fish in flour or seasoning for free.
- It’s almost always cheaper to buy a large cut of meat and have your butcher trim it for you. For instance, you can buy a big roast and have the butcher remove the bone, run some of the meat through the grinder and cut the rest into a pot roast.
- Ask your butcher when they mark down meat. At many grocery stores, it’s between 8am and 10am.
- You can get filet mignon much cheaper by buying whole T-bone steaks! Every T-bone has a small filet mignon on the bone and a New York strip on the opposite side. Just ask your butcher to cut the steak apart for you.
- Ask your butcher about unconventional cuts that may be cheaper than what you normally buy. High end cuts like filet mignon, porterhouse and rib eye are much more expensive than things like brisket, flat iron and shoulder.
- Most butchers will specially prepare a cut of meat for you. Are you buying a whole chicken to cut down on costs, but don’t know how to break it down? Ask your butcher if they’ll do it for you!
- If you’re trying a new recipe bring it into the store with you. Ask the your butcher what cut of meat will work best in the recipe.
- Are you preparing a meal for a crowd? Your butcher will be able to tell you how much meat to purchase.
- Most of the time, discounted meat is not about to go bad. The store may have just gotten a deal on that type of meat and is passing the savings on to you.
- If you get to know your butcher, you may get special treatment! They may let you call ahead to set aside sale items so you don’t miss out on your favorite cuts.
- Buying a cheaper steak? Turn in into a tender juicy one with these tips.
- If you’re buying a fresh loaf of bread that isn’t sliced, don’t be afraid to ask someone in the bakery to slice it for you.
- If you need to buy a cake don’t buy it the day you need it! You’ll get a cake from the display cake that isn’t quite fresh. Order it a few days in advance and the bakery will make a fresh one for you.
- Fresh bakery bread is usually stored in an open ended brown paper bag because it will go stale faster. That means you come back to the store more often to buy more bread. To avoid stale bread, put it in an airtight bag as soon as you get home.
- If there is a sale on a bakery item that you don’t need for a couple of weeks ask if you can buy it during the sale but not pick it up until you need it.
- Shopping later in the evening can score you discounted bakery items. I can’t count how many times I’ve been checking out in the evening and have heard an announcement for half priced donuts and bagels.
- If you’re buying a big block of cheese, don’t be afraid to ask someone in the deli to slice it for you.
- Buy cheese from the dairy case rather than from the deli counter. Many times the same products are stocked in both places but they are cheaper in the pre-packaged case.
- Most stores will let you bring your own containers for meat, deli, bulk items etc. Check out this great article from Zero Waste Home for tips on going green by reusing containers.
- Do you like the hot pizza from the deli? You’ll likely find the exact same store-brand pizza in the freezer section for half the price.
- Your pharmacist can give you advice on what medications to use, when to use them and how they will interact with other medicines.
- If you’re stopping by the pharmacy to buy some cold medicine be sure to run your symptoms by the pharmacist. They can help you decided if you need to go to the doctor. They can also offer advice on what medications to use to relive symptoms until you can get a doctors appointment.
- The most used produce has the quickest turnover. Things like star fruit will have been on the self a lot longer than the broccoli.
- Shake off your leafy greens before bagging them. The mist that’s sprayed on them can add to the item’s weight.
- If you need to purchase a large amount of something be sure to talk to a produce employee. Just recently, I saw a customer ask a produce employee if he could bring her a 30 lb. box of carrots and he was glad to do it!
- Don’t assume that buying in bulk is the best price. Things like peppers, apples, avocados etc. are usually cheaper loose than in prepackaged bags.
- Ask produce employees for advice on choosing the best fruits and vegetables. Produce managers will be very knowledgeable about their stock and could tell you if they just got a particularly good shipment of strawberries, apples etc.
- If you’re thinking about trying a new kind of fruit or vegetable ask a produce employee if they will cut off a piece for a sample.
- Don’t be afraid to reach to the back of the shelf to get the freshest milk, yogurt etc.
- If you’re moving, ask a diary employee for egg boxes. They have handles and are super strong!
- Ask the florist if they will give you free greenery to go with loose flowers.
- If you need flowers for a special occasion or event, ask the florist if they can special order things for you.
- The least crowded day of the week to shop is usually Wednesday. And the least crowded time of day is usually between 6pm-9pm – or even later if you’re store is open 24 hours. Besides being less crowded, I’ve also gotten great deals while shopping later in the evening! One time I was at the store around 8pm and I heard an announcement that the rotisserie chickens were 50% off.
- Don’t shop on Mondays. Grocery store deliveries don’t usually happen on weekends so items purchased on Mondays are usually several days old. Deliveries typically happen on Wednesdays.
- Look high and low on the shelves for smaller manufacturers who can’t afford to stock their products at coveted eye-level spots.
- When buying reusable bags look for ones that have a tiny loop at the top. The loop is there so that it can be hooked around the metal bag holder and stay open while it’s being loaded. That makes it easier for cashiers to load your groceries and gets you out of the store faster.
- Most grocery stores have a budget for supporting local causes. When I was in high school I got donations from my local grocery store for all kinds of auctions and events. A few times a year my local store also does small craft fairs and BBQ’s to raise money for local charities.
- Watch for promotional fliers and announcements at your store. My local grocery store sometimes does free activities for kids like cooking classes or craft days.
- Is there a product you want that the store doesn’t carry? Always talk to a manager to see if you can special order products. My mom and I used to go to a Weight Watchers meeting that was across the street for a grocery store. When we learned about healthy products in our meetings we would ask that store to special order them.
- You can return spoiled items at grocery stores. If you buy milk that turns out to be spoiled or carton of blueberries goes bad the day after you buy them, take it back to the store for a refund!
- If your grocery store has a dietician on staff they may be able to help you plan out meals, teach you about food allergies, nutrition etc.
What are your best tips for getting the most out of your grocery store?