For some, shopping for groceries is the bane of their existence. For others (like me) it can be a zen experience. Whatever camp you fall into, you could use some tips to get the most out of your shopping experience.
Grocery stores have their own strategies in order to psychologically influence you to buy the most expensive products, things you do not need, and the products that are about to expire. Luckily, we have 29 hacks for you to get the best deals every time you shop.
We will teach you everything from where you can find the freshest products, to how to get the butcher to repackage your meat to the best times to shop so you don't accidentally come home with half of the items in the store. Don't worry. Whether you love grocery shopping or detest it, this list is for you.
Is this you whenever you're at the supermarket?Well, that is all about to change. Seriously, chores like grocery shopping become so much more pleasant if you just take the time to come up with a strategy. Here are some tips to remember when those sliding doors open.
Products in the front expire sooner.
via: ShutterstockDon't be afraid to reach an arm's length back for fresher stuff, especially when it comes to produce. They want to get rid of the stuff that's about to expire, so they put it in front and bank on people who haven't read this article to snatch it up.
The older the milk, the more central it is.
via: ShutterstockThe expiration game also applies to things like milk and yogurt, but there's an added catch. The middle rows of milk are usually the oldest. Work out to the outer rows for the freshest stuff.
Look up and down the shelves.
via: ShutterstockThe most expensive items are at eye level. Grocery stores want you to grab them because they are the first that you see. But often, a cheaper version of the same item is a few shelves toward the floor.
Spices are arranged in alphabetical order. You're welcome.
via: ShutterstockThis is a life-saver! However, it doesn't stop me from scanning the rows of spices, again and again, looking for the one spice they don't have.
Spices in the ethnic food section are often cheaper.
via: ShutterstockMany times, the same spices that are available in the spice section are also available in the ethnic food aisles, except you get way more for way less. That's the way to go.
Soda bottles should be hard when you squeeze them.
via: ShutterstockIf they bend easily, they are already losing carbonation. And no one wants flat soda.
Ripe watermelons sound hollow when you tap them.
via: ShutterstockYou're welcome! Now it won't be a guessing game when you buy this ginormous fruit.
Shop the perimeter of the store.
via: ShutterstockIf you are trying to live a healthy-ish lifestyle, stick to the perimeter of the supermarket. They are designed so the freshest food — produce, meat, dairy — is on the outer perimeter of the store. The middle aisles are filled with more processed products.
Bagged lettuce is fresher when the bags don't have much air in them.
via: ShutterstockAs lettuce gets older, it tends to release more gas. If you pick up a bag of lettuce and it feels like a bubble about to burst, you should choose another bag.
You know those mailers that you automatically toss when they come in the mail?
via: ShutterstockWell, they're useful for learning about the best deals at the grocery stores in your area. You can even use them to plan your meals around what's on sale!
Speaking of sales, huddle around.
via: ShutterstockYou know when you see a deal in the store that says, "two for $5?" Well, you don't have to buy two to get the sale price. One product will be $2.50 when you check out. That's a great deal for a box of cereal!
via: ShutterstockHere's the thing: Very occasionally, you can tell the difference between store brand and name brand products. But most of the time, they're exactly the same except for the packaging. And generic stuff is much cheaper!
via: ShutterstockMost of the time, you can get free samples from the deli or the bakery, so go buck wild! But then maybe actually buy some sliced turkey or something, so they don't kick you out.
You can return deli meat that didn't satisfy.
via: ShutterstockIf you sampled the honey ham but then brought a pound of it home and literally no one else in your house will eat it, you can usually return it and get a refund. Yes, even the freshly sliced stuff.
Things like fresh steak and chicken that are packaged in the store can be repackaged if needed.
via: ShutterstockThat's right! If you see a great steak, but there are two in the container, and you only want one, bring it up to the butcher and ask them to repackage it. Of course, this doesn't apply to brand-name packaged goods just the stuff with the store label.
Ask the store for cardboard boxes.
via: ShutterstockSometimes, it's way easier to carry groceries in a box rather than fifty flimsy bags. But also, if you're moving or having a garage sale, the grocery store is the unsung hero when it comes to procuring large cardboard boxes.
Put a laundry basket in your car's trunk.
via: ShutterstockHear me out: Put an empty laundry basket in your trunk. Then, go grocery shopping. Then, put all the bags in the laundry basket. Then carry one laundry basket, full of all groceries, into the house in one fell swoop. I know. Brilliant.
Don't grocery shop while hungry!
via: ShutterstockIf you do, chances are you are going to end up with a lot of stuff you don't need. Make sure to nibble on something before heading to the store.
Shop when the store isn't crowded.
via: ShutterstockI don't know if it's peer pressure or what, but studies show that people buy more food when they're shopping when it's crowded.
Don't buy toiletries at the grocery store.
via: ShutterstockChances are, they're way more expensive there than they are at the drugstore or online. Just don't do it!
Write a list and stick to it!
via: ShutterstockI cannot even tell you how much quicker and less of a pain grocery shopping is when you go in with a list, and you do not deviate from that list.
Frozen seafood is often the exact same that's behind the counter.
via: ShutterstockIf you have time, buy the frozen stuff, which is often much cheaper, and thaw it yourself.
Don't use a shopping cart if you can!
via: ShutterstockStudies have shown that the bigger the cart, the more people buy. If you limit yourself to a basket or one of those mini carts, you probably won't stray too far from the light.
Wednesday is the best day to shop.
via: ShutterstockParticularly, Wednesday in the early morning or late at night. Usually, on Wednesdays, the shelves have just been stocked, and new sales and deals go into effect.
Pre-chopped fruit and veggies are super expensive.
via: ShutterstockYou may think they are convenient, and maybe they are, but more than likely you are paying a hefty price for that convenience.
Buy versatile ingredients to keep in your house.
via: ShutterstockThings like chicken broth, pasta, beans, canned tomatoes, rice, etc. are great staple items to keep your pantry. You can make ten different meals with those ingredients alone.
If you're strapped for cash, make breakfast for dinner!
via: ShutterstockThink about it! Breakfast items are way cheaper than dinner items. You don't have to buy a big, expensive steak to have a nutritious dinner. A couple eggs, some bacon or sausage, and maybe a green vegetable will do the trick.
Grow your own fresh herbs.
via: ShutterstockHerbs are relatively easy to grow on your own, and in the long run, having your own little indoor herb garden will be cheaper than buying fresh herbs every time you have to use them.
Frozen veggies are just fine.
via: ShutterstockAs long as they're not salted or sauced, frozen veggies are often more nutritious than fresh stuff that’s been traveling and sitting out for a long time. There’s no shame in a bag of frozen broccoli! In fact, it might be better for you than the fresh stuff. Share this with someone who'd appreciate these tips!