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Grocery shopping is something we all have to do.  Some people make the trek to the grocery store every week, others every two weeks, or on an as-needed basis.  I love to go grocery shopping and the produce section is one of my favorite places.  Seeing all those yummy fruits and vegetables in all their vibrant colors brings me great joy.  I also love to save money.

Here are 20 practical tips I’ve learned for making the most of a trip to the market and saving a little extra money in the process.

  1. Get to know your stores loss leaders.  These are the items the store advertises and wants to get rid of quickly to stimulate sales.  If you purchase these as meats or perishable items, be sure to use them right away or freeze them.
  2. Go armed with coupons (you don’t have to do extreme coupon-ing!).  Check the Internet or store-mailers for coupons.  Also check out the website for your store(s) to look for deals and discounts (and recipes).
  3. Buy the store’s markdown items and use your store’s bonus card to save money.  One of our local stores offers discount pricing for gas when you use their bonus card…that’s an extra savings on groceries and an additional discount on fuel costs at the pump!
  4. Prepare a shopping list to take with you and do not deviate from that list or you will end up spending more than you budgeted (and not necessarily on healthy items).
  5. Try to plan menu items for the week so that you only purchase what you actually need.
  6. Most stores sell day old products (e.g., breads, produce, etc.).  The fruits and vegetables may be slightly bruised or blemished yet they remain edible.  Check out these day old items to save a little extra money.
  7. Don’t be a brand snob.  Most people want to purchase the brand name product. When you can, store brand products may offer a savings in the long-run.  Look at the unit price to compare.  However, you may find coupons or Internet discounts for savings on brand name products.
  8. Buy frozen fruits or vegetables.  Especially if you know you’re not going to eat the fresh product right away which then becomes money wasted.  Most frozen products are flash-frozen so they are just as nutritious as fresh, and often less expensive.
  9. If you have a problem with a product, call the toll-free number on the product to voice a complaint.  Most manufacturers will send you product coupons as a courtesy measure for taking the time to contact them.
  10. Price compare among the local grocery store competition or wholesale stores.  Buy only the items you know you will use in bulk from wholesale stores to save money.  If you know you’re not going to use it, don’t buy it just because it is a good deal at the wholesale store.  Depending on location, it may be cost-effective for you to shop multiple stores; however, if competitive stores are too far apart, it probably is not cost-effective.
  11. Although they can be a terrific time-saver, avoid purchasing pre-packaged foods as they cost you more money.  Buy it and chop it or tear it yourself.
  12. Buy fruit and produce in season.  If you live near a local farmer’s market, you may be able to negotiate pricing to save money for these fresh farm-raised products.
  13. Shop the perimeter of the store.  This is where the healthier products are located.  Inside the aisles, you tend to spend more money and buy more junk foods!
  14. Go to the store’s customer service desk to request a rain check if a sale item is unavailable or not in stock.  This way you still receive the sale price when they re-stock the item.
  15. Do not purchase non-grocery items (e.g., Tylenol, contact lens solution, etc.) at the grocery store because you pay more.
  16. Take advantage of store stock-up-sales and buy-one-get-one offers.  Buy these items in bulk if you can and, if appropriate, freeze them.
  17. Always submit any manufacturer rebates.  Hey, it all adds up!
  18. Use the calculator on your cell phone, the store’s self-serve device, or a hand-held calculator to keep track of spending before you check out (and to stay on budget!).
  19. Avoid shopping when you are hungry.  You will buy everything!
  20. When possible, try to shop earlier in the day.  After work, you tend to be tired and grab what you see, even though it may not be healthy for you.

Do you have any tips or advice on saving money at the grocery store?