Successful Grocery Shopping: Ten Commandments

Successful grocery shopping is getting what you need, at the best price, in the smallest amount of time. If you follow ten rules, you will be successful every time.

1. Read the ads to make the list.

The number one way to control spending in the grocery store is to have a list. If you only buy the things you need, you will spend less money. But what goes on the list?

Do not be distracted. Just see what you need.

To get you to shop, grocers spend millions on advertising. Make your list with the sale ads, in the kitchen. Make sure you are not duplicating something you already have.

Since sale items change each week, build your menus around what is on sale this week. If lettuce is on sale, plan salad one night, tacos another and use the lettuce to wrap chicken for a low carb meal. Building your menus around sale items will save you a bundle over time.

Plan your menu for the whole week. The fewer times you go to the store, the less you will spend.

2. Get organized.

Grocery ListList? Check.
Calculator? Check.
Coupons? Check.
Rain checks? Check.
Store loyalty card? Check.

Have all of your supplies in your wallet before you shop. If you don’t know what some of these are for, keep reading.

3. Navigate the store.

  • Go straight to the back. This will help you avoid the eye-catching displays and impulse items. Staples like dairy (milk, butter and cheese) and bread are always located at the back of the store.
  • Shop the perimeter. The basic meal building blocks are located around the perimeter of the store. Packaged foods are in the center of the store. Shop healthier by shopping the meat, seafood and produce on the perimeter.
  • Know your store. Some aisles have no temptations (the paper plate aisle). Use this aisle to cut across the store or to get to the back of the store.
  • Shop the middle. Grocers place staples (flour and sugar) in the center of aisles where you will twice pass the premium, impulse products they want you to buy. March right by those items to get what is on your list.
  • Look up and down. The high-profit, name brand items are located at eye level on the shelf. Look up and down to find the less expensive store brands. Many store brands are actually made by brand-name companies who label products with the store’s labels.

4. Do the math.

In the chips aisle, you see a bag for $1.49 and a nearly identical one for $1.79. Before you reach for the cheaper one, see how many ounces of chips are in the bag.

“Lower priced” does not always equal “better value”. The more expensive bag has more chips. Check the price per ounce. Most stores will have the price-per-measurement on the shelf label. If not, use your calculator to find the best deal.

5. Learn a trade secret, or two.

Shopping Baskets Hiding

Worth looking for them…
via wiki

If the green beans are on sale (buy ten for $5), the cans are really 50 cents each…even if you only buy one. Buy what is on your list.

Handheld baskets are often hidden, so you grab a shopping cart. Grocers know you will buy more if the basket is not full. If you only came for a few things, get a handheld basket or use your shopping bag and stick to your list.

6. Do you see a pattern?

To buy items at the lowest price, study the sale trends of your grocery store. Keep a notebook with the sales on items you usually buy. If ice cream is on sale on the second week of the month, but only 50 cents off on the last week, buy it when it is cheapest.

7. Wise coupon use.

  • Read more. If the Sunday newspaper has high value coupons, it may be worth it to buy another copy or ask a friend for the insert. If the coupon is buy one, get one free, you can buy four for the price of two and have ample supply to last until the next sale.
  • Swap and save. A twice-a-month coffee date is the perfect time to swap coupons with friends. Long distance swapping (by telephone or chat room) is even better. Coupons vary by region. You will swap for a much broader range of coupons.
  • Get on-line. By searching your product and “coupon” you will find sites which have printable coupons. If you are not on the manufacturer’s site, be careful about giving up your personal information.
  • Sort it out. Whether you use a coupon divider or an envelope, organize your coupons by shopping aisle. Put the ones closest to the expiration date at the front to use first. As soon as you clip/print them, put them in the back of your sorter.
  • Double or triple? Find a store near you who doubles or triples coupons to save the most.
  • Do the math. Sometimes buying the biggest is not the best savings. If you have a two-for-one coupon, you may get a better price-per-pound by buying a smaller size. Where’s your calculator?

8. Rainy days.

Your favorite frozen pizza is on sale two-for-one, but you don’t have room in the freezer (or the money) right now. The sale starts on Friday, so shop on Monday. Chances are the pizzas will be sold out. Great! Get a rain check to use when you are ready for pizza.

9. Layers. Layers. And more layers.

Use coupons on items which are already on sale. Those $1.79 chips are on sale for $1.49. Use a 50-cents-off coupon at a store which doubles coupons, and you get the chips for only 49 cents.

10. Keep your eyes on the register.

Make sure the scanner is recording the prices correctly, sale or otherwise. Don’t pay for guavas when you are buying tomatoes. If you point out an error during scanning, many stores will give you the item free or deeply discounted.

Keep the receipt. If you get home and notice an error, you can take the receipt back to the store for a refund.

So, be successful when grocery shopping. It is easier than you think.


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  1. awarewriter

     /  November 11, 2011

    I love rain checks. Way back, when Tracy and I lived in State College I was in school, Tracy got paid once a month and money was scarce. The supermarket had a huge sale on turkeys in the middle of the summer but were sold out when I got there. You should have seen the expression on the meat manager’s face when I showed up in November for my Thanksgiving turkey. lol

    • You are the bomb! That is a BRILLIANT example! Kiss the twins for me. I love the photos of them. Did you see you made the Blog Roll?

  2. Nowadays grocery shopping is serious business. This is how I understand it: a shopper must do some homework to keep on top of weekly specials, compare for competitive pricing, make a list, map out a deliberate plan of action, read the ingredients, check volume vs. price. . .
    Whew, another good reason not to go shopping hungry. You won’t be home for supper and / or your plan will go down the dirt shoot.

    You have a way of telling it like it is, Red. Bonus.
    Tess Kann recently posted..Whose Money is it by the Way?My Profile

    • *curtsies sweetly* You can link this to your post iffen you like 😉

  1. Tips for Grocery Shopping Success | Internet Billboards

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