Save Money at the Grocery Store with These Tips, No Coupons Needed

By now you probably already know that you can save a lot of money at the grocery store by using coupons, loyalty cards, buying loss leaders and weekly sale specials.  Well, the thing is that we sometimes forget about the basics: how we shop at the grocery store.  Changing the way you stroll the aisles at your grocery store or look at shelves can lead to more savings.  Here are a few tips to help you understand what I am talking about:

  1. Walk along the walls.  Did you know that the freshest and healthiest foods for you are located along the walls of your grocery store?  As I mentally walk along my grocery store I can tell you that the right wall has all fruits and vegetables.  The back wall has seafood, meat and eggs and milk.  The left wall has more yogurt, cheese and orange juice.  Think about your grocery store now, do you identify a similar pattern?  I bet you do.  These are also some of the most basic ingredients that will help you create a lot of meals from scratch.  Doing most of your shopping along the walls of your grocery store will help you save money because you avoid the more expensive pre-packaged convenience foods.
  2. Beware of end caps.  If you shop at CVS or Walgreens, you know that end caps are usually prime spots for clearance items.  Unfortunately this concept doesn’t translate to your local grocery store.  Most people expect items on an end cap to be on sale.  This is the reason end caps are considered prime retail space at grocery stores.  Also, be careful of items located at an end cap that complement each other.  For example, my grocery store has crackers located at the end of the soup aisle.  However, these crackers are the gourmet-most expensive type.  If you walk one aisle over you will find cheaper crackers to complement the soup you just picked up.
  3. Look up and down and all around.  Just as end caps are prime shelf space, so is the middle shelf space.  Retailers are willing to pay thousands of dollars to make sure their products are easily spotted.  Let’s face it, we spend most of the time looking at things that are at our eye level.  Spend more time comparing the product you initially picked up with similar products located in the lower or upper shelves.
  4. Be Picky. Food waste is a big budget buster.  One big reason we end up throwing away food is because it goes bad.  Make sure the food you buy has the best “Sell By date” you could possibly get.  Don’t just grab the first item that’s on the shelf, check the expiration date.  Look towards the back of the shelves where you are likely to find the items with the longest expiration date available.  Here’s a common pitfall: not checking the carton of eggs you are buying for cracked ones.  Take the two seconds it takes to open the carton and make sure you are getting 100% of your money’s worth.
  5. Think outside the regular aisle. Your grocery store sells certain items in more than one section of the store, and looking for the alternate sale area can save you a lot of money.  For example, sliced cheese is sold in the dairy/refrigerated section. But it is also sold in the deli area.  The prepackaged cheese sold in the refrigerated section can turn out to be more expensive than the one sold in the deli area.  Another benefit of buying at the deli is that you can buy exactly the amount that you need and avoid any waste this way.

These are small changes that require very little if no effort from you.  But they could help you stretch your dollar even more.

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  • Kate

    Amusing thought… my grocery store has the alcohol on the left side 🙂

    • Yeah, Kate, then the advice of shopping along the walls wouldn’t work so great in your case, lol


  • Megan

    Also, when you’re checking to see if the eggs are cracked, take a look at THEIR expiration date too! All too often ppl check to see if they are cracked and don’t notice that they are on sale for $0.88 b/c they expire in a week.

  • These are great tips! Tips that I knew but had not even put it together the way you did. Thanks for sharing and I will be extremely conscious next time I go to the market, not just for coupons but where I’m shopping and how.

  • Great tips, sometimes I find myself wandering through the store and Ihave to stop! If I can make a detailed list, I wouldn’t feel the need to wander I guess.

  • great tips! did you know that if you find cracked eggs, you can often times get a discount on that carton? Also you don’t really have to look too close at the exp date on eggs, they are fine for up to 3 weeks after the date. The exp date on eggs, just like on other items, is there to trick you into thinking you have to buy more.

  • Those are all great practical ideas for changing our consumer behaviour!

  • Great tips! Also look for unadvertised specials in the store’s flyers. Many stores will place coupons or instant sales offers in the flyer but will not advertised these specials on the store shelf. So if you just walk in off the street you won’t even know about the sale.

    Walgreen’s is the most glaring example of a store that does this. So before shopping at a Walgreens always check the flyers that they usually have at the front of the store.

    Also always double check how much of a discount you’re actually getting when you place a sale item in you cart at the grocery store. Supermarkets realize that you may not check to see how much you’re actually saving so they’ll mix the sales savings. Some sale items will save you nearly 50% or more while on others you’ll save a measly 4 or 5% off of the normal price.

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  • Oooo…I love reading about what the marketing minds are up to at grocery stores! Great tips!!

    One should also be wary when a store intentionally “changes things up.” This could come in the form of a remodel, or just simply moving items around in the store. This is done periodically by many supermarkets to keep consumers on their toes. By intentionally confusing them, the poor souls are left to wander through several extra aisles, confronted with other products they didn’t come in for, but now are tempted to buy…

    I’ve also read that most customers shop in a clockwise pattern in a store and that customers who shop clockwise spend a few bucks less per trip. This sort of stuff fascinates me…!

  • Steph

    Wow, you just gave me a whole new perspective on my grocery store! Especially when it comes to pkg. cheese verse deli. My simple mind see the ad price and forgets about the weight! Most pkg. cheeses are only 8 oz where as the deli advertises by the pound! Thank you for you helpful hints!

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