You always hear of people that run in to get a gallon of milk and a carton of eggs and come out an hour later, spending $150, and filling the trunk up with groceries.  I’ve done it myself many times.  Without a solid plan, the grocery store can be overwhelming and eat you alive, and spit you back out with an empty wallet.  As consumers, we often ignore cutting up coupons to bring, forget to take back our bottles and cans for deposit, or even buy off-brand name products to try and save money.  We look for sales in other areas such as clothes and electronics, so why not continue with groceries?  There are plenty of smart ways to save at the grocery store to put a little extra back in your pocket.

Stick to the Perimeter of the Store

I once heard someone say that if you want the healthiest food, to stick to the perimeter of the store where it is all fresh ingredients like fruits, vegetables, meat, daily, and bread, meaning it is fresh and not frozen, so you will likely be able to buy more natural foods.  The same could be said with cheaper, as if you stick to these items you will avoid snack and frozen foods, and really if you avoid going up and down each aisle, you will have less impulse items in your cart.

Never Leave Without a List

If you do need to venture out into the middle of the store and start heading through the aisles, then it is best to make a list before you leave the house, and stick to it.  Going in without a plan is a money disaster waiting to happen.  If you are worried about not being able to find items or having to go back to the same sections to get another item, try making your list by grouping fruits/veggies together, cleaning supplies, etc., so that you know roughly where each will be and it will be a little easier to find.

Eat a Full Meal First

I mentioned impulse purchases a little earlier, and if you do not eat before you go shopping, you can prepare to come up with a car load of impulse buys.  If you have gone on an empty stomach before, you know that everything sounds good to you and you start loading up the cart based on your hunger, and not with your brain.  If you can eat a full meal, not just snack, before you head out to the store, you can save yourself for your bank account, but I’m guessing the extra purchases will not be healthy ones, so you can save your waistline as well.

The Days of the Week Matter

If you have ever tried to go grocery shopping on a Sunday, you know for sure the parking lot is packed, and inside, you have to maneuver around people leaving their carts in the aisle, only to find everything is picked over until the stock day.  Not only will you save yourself stress by shopping during the week, but you can actually find better deals, especially if you shop mid-week, in order to draw more people into the store.  The shelves will be stocked, and if you go after dinner, say on a Wednesday, you can be in and out quickly, maybe not even seeing another person down the aisle with you at times.

Perks for Using a Shoppers Reward Card

We used to have to clip coupons in order to save, and while that is still a valid way, you can now load digital coupons to your shopper’s reward card on the grocer’s website and see the savings come off at the register.  Not only coupons, but just by using your reward card, you can accumulate fuel points that you can redeem to save at the pump, taking some off each gallon of gas, and could be significant depending how many points you have built up.

What Will the Future Bring?

Food delivery services are now getting more popular where dedicated staff do the shopping for you, and not even bring out to your car, but deliver them right to your house.  Sure, it is an extra charge, but if people start to take advantage of this service, maybe grocers will start offering this service for free to buy from their store, especially with the amount of competition out there.  I just saw Meijer get approved for including alcohol as part of this service, so now there really is now turning back…