Shop on slower days
There is one important fact to keep in mind when grocery shopping: grocery stores are in business to make money. Fair enough, right? If you didn’t already know, there are peak shopping days throughout the week. Those days usually see higher prices throughout the store, as grocery stores can take advantage of a higher volume of clients.
By shopping on non-peak days, you can avoid not only the mad rush and frustratingly blocked aisles but also the jacked-up prices of everyday items.
Take advantage of deals for products you will use
You may not really need 5 tubes of toothpaste, but if your store is offering a 5 for $5 deal on your favorite brand, snag it! You may have to store those extra tubes on a high shelf in the bathroom cabinet, but the fact of the matter is, you will use it eventually.
I wouldn’t recommend this same strategy on something that may expire, like produce or dairy products, or for products you don’t normally use on a daily basis, like honey mustard. But items like contact solution, shampoo, soap and canned goods are great for buying in bulk when there’s a great deal on the line.
No, I’m not referring to the extreme couponers, standing at the checkout counter with their binder full of hundreds of coupons. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…
But if you aren’t up for that extra chore, take a quick few minutes before your shopping trip to print off a few coupons. You can use reliable sites like coupons.com or The Krazy Koupon Lady, among others, to find a handful of savings for the items you need.
One important tip: To keep from going over to the “dark side” of extreme couponing, and to prevent your cupboards from being overloaded, don’t buy products because you have the coupon. Use the coupon for the products you already plan to buy.
Cheap meat cuts for soups and stews
If you are planning a nice steak dinner or are wanting to grill some Angus burgers, you should probably shell out for the nicer meat cuts. However, many soups and stews can be cooked with cheaper cuts of meats without really affecting the overall quality of the meal. Many grocery store meat departments offer special deals for unwanted or less-sought-after pieces of meat.
If your grocery store doesn’t offer these pieces upfront, ask the butcher. Most will prefer selling these pieces at a cheaper price rather than inevitably disposing of them for no profit.
Don’t shop hungry
It’s not a new rule, but for moms shopping with children, this rule should apply to your little ones as well. Nothing makes a child go crazier than strolling down the brightly colored, sugar-filled cereal aisle. A tired, frazzled mother is more likely to give in to these unhealthy and often more pricey treats to calm a hungry child.
My advice: Feed your little ones before hitting the store, and bring snacks that they like! That way, when they inevitably ask (loudly) for their favorite packaged snack, it will be easier to say no to them as you offer them a fruit chew and keep moving down the aisle.
Trust your shopping list
It’s the biggest challenge for myself. I undoubtedly get to a certain point and stop looking at my list. You shopping list shouldn’t be a simple checklist to ensure you’ve got everything. It should also act as a guide of limitations for what you plan to get.
That bag of Funions may look tasty, but if they aren’t on your list, and you genuinely don’t need them (is there ever a time that we genuinely need Funions?), then tell yourself “No!” as you wheel your cart away in sadness. You (and your bank account) will be thankful later.
Hit the deli area just before closing
Grocery delis often offer rotisserie chickens, salads, pastas, and more, and at the end of the day, a lot of that goes straight into the trash if it doesn’t sell. Much like the butcher who would prefer to make at least a tiny profit over nothing, deli workers will often offer great deals toward the end of the day near closing time as well.
Even 24-hour grocery stores often shut down their delicatessens at some point in the evening. Time your shopping trip so that you can hit this counter and perhaps even snag an easy already-prepared dinner for your family that evening.