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Grocery Shopping Tips

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A woman speaking to a clerk at the grocery store.
There are many ways to save time and money when tackling your household shopping. This guide contains grocery shopping tips.
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May 26, 2009

When at the supermarket, bring a little notebook with you, and a calculator. Write down all of your regular items (or something that you'd like to buy) and the price per ounce (divide the cost by the total number of ounces in the package). While the stores usually show that formula on the tags that show the prices, sometimes it shows "X" cents per ounce on one item, and "Y" per unit on another brand's item (that's why I suggested the calculator).
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Get the same information from all the supermarkets that you frequent. After a couple of weeks, write out a chart of your regular shopping items down the left side of a page, with the name of the stores across the top. Then put the price into the proper column under each store. You'll quickly see what store gives the best regular prices, and you'll be better able to cash in coupons or take advantage of sales without pulling everything out of the cabinet to see what it usually costs.

Update the lists from time to time, too. I use Miracle Whip. It's usually $3.49 here, which works out to $0.10+ per ounce. I always buy it at a super-discounted grocery store for much less, $0.07 an ounce. When you get a coupon or there's a sale on, make sure that store is offering a better price than you often pay.

I used to take the cost of mileage into account, until a third supermarket opened recently within a 2 miles of my home. Talk about heaven! Soon you'll know exactly where to go to get what, simplifying a shopping trip and getting you the best price on everything.

By Pollylev

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By 17 found this helpful
March 5, 2011

I have worked in the grocery industry for over 15 years, so I'm going to share little secrets of how to shop and save big in your favorite local grocery store.

By Ronda F from Mulvane, KS

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April 1, 2010

Did you know that the supermarket is dangerous? This goes for any cart-pushing, scooter-riding establishment. Ask yourself if you've ever felt at some kind of risk in the grocery store (besides being run over by some kid racing around with a cart)?

After growing older and having multiple back surgeries and related illnesses, I find that I am more conscious of picking up some kind of bug from things that are touched by other people, whether they are well or sick or are handled by snot-nosed kids.

My local grocery store provides a large sanitary wipe dispenser at the door to use as you like. I find them most useful for wiping the handles of the little electric carts used by the disabled and to sanitize handles of grocery carts.

Other uses could be to wipe your hands after picking up raw chicken, seafood and other leaky products to avoid salmonella. Even when wrapped, these types of things can still infect unwashed hands. People sometimes look at me and think I'm a crazy health nut, but hey, I'm not sick!

By Sue123 from Oroville, CA

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Kelly Ann Butterbaugh3 found this helpful
February 6, 2009

As grocery prices rise, we wait and hope for this economic trend to reverse itself. However, in the meantime there are ways to shop wise and save money at the grocery store. It takes a little planning and bit of motivation, but you too can shop wisely without sacrificing the promise of a full pantry.

Mama Knew Best

Your mother always told you not to shop with an empty stomach, and she knew what she was talking about. Spontaneous purchases happen when tummies are empty, so grab a snack before going to the store.

Most spontaneous purchases involve snack foods which are high in price. Stay away from the junk food aisles, and opt to check out through the candy-free aisle.

Plan Ahead

Taking the time to make a plan before heading to the store can save the most money. Create a list and stick to it; it'll eliminate spontaneous shopping and it will focus your spending on what you actually need. If, halfway through the week, you're missing a key ingredient for dinner, you're left with two choices: run to the nearest store and buy the needed ingredient, or skip the meal and eat out. Eating out is going to cost more than the meal itself, and running to the nearest store costs gas money plus the extra expense of the convenience store. By shopping with a comprehensive, well thought out list, this can be avoided.

Tis the Season

Reorganize your recipe box. Organize recipes by their ingredients, keeping dishes that require tomatoes together for example. When the fridge is overstocked with tomatoes at the end of the summer, pull the recipes that utilize this healthy red fruit.

Avoid out of season ingredients. It'll make the dishes more special when they're only offered during select times of the year, and it'll save money when you go shopping. Tomatoes are too expensive during the winter, but they're much more reasonable and available during the summer months.

Waste Not, Want Not

Have a backup plan for leftover fruits and veggies. If lunches don't use the leftovers, try to create meals that do. Treat the family to a special dessert if berries are ready to go bad, or bake banana bread if a few brown friends are around. Freeze small portions of leftover vegetables in bags. When enough bags accumulate, cook a pot of vegetable stew with them.

If milk is nearing its expiration date, put pudding on the menu. Offer a night of soup and sandwiches, making a cream soup with the extra milk. Think creatively and use what's in the fridge. Make a resolution not to throw anything away, ever.

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November 18, 20105 found this helpful

Shop stores during the dinner hours, 5 PM to 7 PM. The stores are less crowded then.

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November 24, 2014

Calculator shopping was popular back when hand-held calculators first became cheap and easy to get. Nowadays, I rarely see anyone shopping with a calculator, but there are many good reasons to use one.

Boxes of potatoes bought on sale.

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By 4 found this helpful
August 16, 2011

Where we live, it's at least a 20 minute drive home from the closest grocery store. So it never fails, whenever I buy cold foods, they are warm by the time I get home, and frozen foods are melted.

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By 2 found this helpful
February 5, 2009

In this economy food companies are shrinking package sizes as we have all found out. Pay very close attention shopping even at dollar stores. Check ounces on cereal boxes to get the best price for the most product.

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By 4 found this helpful
February 28, 2011

When I go to a big grocery store, it is such a time waster standing in line at the deli counter. Now, before I leave home, I write the order on the back of a business card. When I get to the deli, I just tell them I'll be back in 20 minutes.

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March 10, 20051 found this helpful

My tip for making grocery shopping easier. I bring my wife and follow her around while she picks the groceries. I find it to be a lot easier than going by myself.

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By 6 found this helpful
July 26, 2011

Have you noticed that all the fresh, least processed items are on the walls of the grocery store? Meats, dairy, produce, baked goods? This is where the majority of your healthy shopping is, along with the freshest seasonal items.

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By 1 found this helpful
October 11, 2007

My grocery shopping is always a chore. We used to spend two to three hundred dollars a week for a family of five. I resolved to cut that back now that I have only one kid at home.

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By 1 found this helpful
August 10, 2006

Clean out and re-organize your refrigerator and cabinets the day before you go to buy groceries.

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By 2 found this helpful
February 8, 2016

As a self employed worker in a soft economy, I have learned to stretch every nickel to do a dime's job. One of my best strategies is to become acquainted with the department managers of my favorite grocery stores. These men and women have supplied me with valuable information regarding the foods in their departments.

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October 6, 20050 found this helpful

I keep a large ($10 at Dollar General) cooler in the back of my van for cold grocery items such as milk and meats. It lets me continue my shopping and not worry about something spoiling.

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January 12, 20050 found this helpful

When I am shopping at a store that I know I will be making a purchase (grocery shopping) and not just browsing, I fill out most of my check information in the car as well as adding the info to my check register. Then when I am checking out, I can watch the prices being rung up.

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By 1 found this helpful
August 1, 2013

It's a chore that I hate, but admittedly, Meal Planning saves me the most grocery money. I use recipe sites to decide dinner for the next week or two, saving the recipes to my Bookmarks.

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November 17, 2006

My dear husband has found that it's easy to shop for groceries for us on Sunday evenings. Not only that, but they seem to have great specials.

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Todd King0 found this helpful
June 6, 2005

I use a three-pronged method to saving money at the grocery store and it can work for you, too. First, always cut and use coupons.

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November 24, 20040 found this helpful

When shopping the grocery store, keep to the outside aisles. They put the sales on end caps. The farther you delve into the store the more money you'll spend. By Laura

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September 27, 20160 found this helpful

This guide contains frugal tips for grocery shopping. There are many ways to save money when buying food for your family.

Woman leaning on her cart thoughtfully at the grocery store

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November 7, 20150 found this helpful

This is a guide about grocery shopping strategies. Whether your goal is saving time or money, there are a number of strategies that can improve your grocery shopping experience.

couple reading canned food label at the market

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February 28, 20120 found this helpful

This is a guide about keeping groceries cold. Sometimes we may travel quite a distance when grocery shopping.

ice chest cooler

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May 7, 20050 found this helpful

Asparagus, Beans, Beef, Broccoli, Carrots, Celery, Corn, Cucumbers, Eggs, Fish, Lamb, Lemons, Peas, Onions, Pineapple, Pork, Potatoes, Rhubarb, Strawberries, Summer Squash, and Tomatoes.

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

August 25, 20050 found this helpful

Tips to use when you go grocery shopping. Post your ideas.

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August 11, 20050 found this helpful
Best Answer

Lots of people carry a cooler in their vehicles so frozen purchases won't melt or dairy items ruining, before getting home. The cooler I have in my car has got a handle on the side and wheels on the bottom, so I can pull it behind me. I don't just use it for groceries, I've got several bags of anything, I'll put them in the cooler & pull it into my house, all at once. It cuts my time in 1/2 by doing this, plus if it's really hot or cold outside, I'm not catching cold or overheating by having to carry in lots of bags of purchased items.

By Terri

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By guest (Guest Post)
August 19, 20050 found this helpful
Best Answer

I used to go grocery shopping, then have to pick up groceries from bags that spilled during the trip home. Now, I always keep a couple of boxes in the boot of my car. When shoping, simply place the bags into the boxes and food won't roll out every time you turn a corner! Simply carry the box inside and unpack, but remember to put he boxes back in the car!

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By guest (Guest Post)
August 26, 20050 found this helpful
Best Answer

Each store has a layout of what is in each aisle - take one and make it your friend. I have a form on Excel that I keep which has my complete grocery list in order of the store's layout - that way I'm not running back and forth. (i.e. Not all pastas are kept together.)

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September 27, 2016

I just read an archived post 'Organizing With Free Boxes'. A person who commented gave one of the reasons for liking Aldi's, 'they rotate coupons'.

What does it mean to rotate coupons?

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Answers

February 2, 20170 found this helpful

I did not find an official definition, but I know that retailers rotate their sales on a preordained schedule (IE certain things go on sale every 3 months, or every 6 months) so that then the coupons that are good for one period of time are good again later in 3 months or 6 months, etc.

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February 3, 20170 found this helpful

I have never heard of this expression. There is a sales cycle. Most items go on sale every 12 weeks. Coupons come out a few weeks before the sale.

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May 2, 20170 found this helpful

I guess then, the coupons don't have an expiration date. Or am I way off base?

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Archives

ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

March 5, 20110 found this helpful

Tips to help you at the grocery store. Post your ideas.

Answers:

Shopping Without the Family

The next time you need to go shopping, I would suggest that you go alone. Children and even men are known to grab extra things that you don't need into the cart.

By Robin (03/11/2005)

By ThriftyFun

Grocery Shopping Tips

Go to www.google.com and do a Bakery Outlet store search for your area. We have saved so much money each month on bagels, bread and muffins by going to the local bakery outlet. (03/13/2005)

By Suzie

Grocery Shopping Tips

I bring a list and then allow myself 1 impulse buy. This way I'm not completely depriving myself, but am limiting it.
(03/13/2005)

By Mojjo

Grocery Shopping Tips

I agree that you don't take kids. They're too problematic. I've actually abandoned my shopping and walked out of some stores because stupid parents can't control their spoilt, whining, shrieking brats. Remember, when you're in a public place, it's not just you that your kids are irritating. Have some courtesy for other shoppers. It doesn't cost much to hire a babysitter for an hour or do your shopping after hubby gets home. (03/13/2005)

By Cathy

Before you leave...

Make a grocery list and eat and drink well before shopping for groceries. Believe me, it helps!

By Holly Dawson (03/19/2005)

By ThriftyFun

Grocery Shopping Tips

I think it is unreal that people have no patience! If you can't bear to go shopping and "listen" to whiney kids, then stay home, and do your shopping on-line!! Also, it is the parent's fault if the children are having temper tantrums, I never once had a problem with my children in a store. It's all in how you bring them up. The "grown ups" need to stop whining and own up to their responsibilities! (03/20/2005)

By secret agent girl

Shopping with Kids

If you've taken your kids to the grocery with you, you know they'll grab items at their eye level. If you're a brand name loyal shopper or just want to quiet your kids, you'll more than likely purchase what they grab. This is part of the store's strategy. Be strong and search for the better price for your savings, the best size package for your family. Will your children eat this product or will this be something to toss out?

By T.H. (03/25/2005)

By ThriftyFun

Grocery Shopping Tips

I will say I do not have children yet, but I have a lot of experience with them. I was a little taken back with the way a couple of people spoke about mothers and their children going to to the grocery store. Some mothers have no choice in the matter of taking the kids or not. I do agree that it is the parent(s) fault if the child is misbehaving, it shows lack of discipline, but there is no reason to call them brats. I have to say some adults with no children can get in the way of your grocery shopping just as much. I have personally learned that if I take the time to get up early on Saturday or my day off and go the grocery store is pretty much empty. I am able to take my time without many interruptions and price compare different items,etc. I plan on trying to keep this grocery shopping schedule when my husband and I have children. (04/25/2005)

By Chelle

Shopping Tip

Be up on prices when you shop, Know whether the "good deal" the store you're shopping in says you're getting, is really a good deal.

By Terri (04/26/2005)

By ThriftyFun

Shopping Tips

Never shop when depressed, hungry or tired, you'll end up spending way more money at the checkout than you had previously planned to.

By Terri H. (04/29/2005)

By ThriftyFun

Grocery Shopping Tips

I take my Mom shopping each week. I try to keep an open mind to sales and "shape" my shopping around unadvertised terrific buys. Just remember children are a blessing. Sometimes I feel cranky and whiney too! But, we have to learn patience and smile when things don't go our way. (04/29/2005)

By Tedebear

Grocery Shopping Tips

Remember that the grocery store is laid out in the best way for them to make money off of us. The essentials are all the way across the store...meat, milk, cheese, bread and vegetables. In the middle are the extras. Cheaper brands will be at the bottom of the shelves or at the top when buying canned goods. Before buying the newest (something) think if you can make it from scratch or not.

For example, in the flyer today, but not a grocery item, but applicable, advertising for hummingbird nectar in a bottle in a liquid concentrate, $2.99 for a small container. Hummingbird concentrate is sooooo easy to make. Use 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. Bring to a boil. Cool to room temperature and fill containers. If I want to make a concentrate I just use 1 or 2 parts water to the same amount of sugar and mark my container. I put it in the refrigerator and when I take it out I add warm water to it so I can put it out for the hummingbirds immediately. (I don't want to give their little bellies cold water.). (05/01/2005)

By valleyrimgirl

Buying Store Brands

A lot of the time, I choose a store brand. Just because it is store brand doesn't mean it isn't quality. Most of the time they are made by the same people who make the name brand stuff.

By Brandy (05/18/2005)

By ThriftyFun

Calculating Savings At The Store

Always keep a small calculator at hand when shopping so you can quickly figure the sales out.

By Brandi (06/06/2005)

By ThriftyFun

Grocery Shopping Tips

Hi Brandi, since the last time we discussed grocery shopping, I decided to use up what we had on hand. I ended up going THREE weeks before we were actually getting "low" on essentials. I hope to do this at least once more this year. Six weeks of grocery money is a true gift! (06/06/2005)

By Tedebear

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March 7, 20050 found this helpful

In the frozen foods department. of a grocery store, a man and his son were shopping. As the man checked something off his shopping list, he was overheard to whisper to his son, "If we mess this up, your mother won't ever ask us to do it again."

By Terri H.

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