Groceries: Top 10 Tips

  1. Plan ahead. Do your research before you hit the supermarket. Planning ahead will help you shop more economically and efficiently. Survey your pantry and refrigerator so you don't end up buying things you already have. Organize coupons and store circulars and prepare a thorough shopping list.

  2. Shop at stores that best suit your needs. With so much competition out there, you don't have to settle for second best. Pick a store that offers a good selection of products, a pleasant shopping atmosphere, and services that you'll use. Also, don't forget about supermarket alternatives like superstores, warehouse clubs, and co-ops.

  3. Never shop when hungry. With all the savory sights and enticing smells in a supermarket, a rumbling stomach can only lead to impulse purchases and a ballooning grocery bill.

  4. Consider store brands. Store brands have come a long way and today offer both savings and quality. By substituting them for national brands, you can easily shave money off each grocery bill. If you're concerned about the taste or quality of a store-brand product, buy the smallest size and test it out.

  5. Take advantage of coupons and frequent-shopper programs. You can save hundreds of grocery dollars a year by taking advantage of coupons and frequent-shopper clubs. Stock up on items you know you'll need whenever they're on sale for club members, and don't forget to use coupons in conjunction with frequent-shopper specials. However, never buy something just because you have a coupon or it's on sale to club members.

  6. Dare to compare. Always check out a product's unit price. It will give you the true cost of an item no matter what its brand or size. Buy in bulk. Larger sizes are almost always a better bargain. There are exceptions, so again, check the unit price. Look high and low for good deals. Don't automatically snatch items that are conveniently placed at eye-level because they can be more expensive. You have to bend and stretch to reach some of the best values.

  7. Limit impulse purchases. A supermarket is a minefield of temptation. Don't be the hapless victim who pushes a grocery cart overflowing with goodies that aren't needed. Stick to your shopping list and set a limit on impulse purchases before you enter the store.

  8. Don't be tricked by the trade. Marketers are experts at manipulation. Always keep their tricks in mind. Don't immediately assume that products in end-of-aisle displays or dump bins are on sale. Remember that high-cost, high-profit products are often at eye-level. Think before you give in to the pastry shells and whipped cream that have been conveniently placed next to the strawberries. Did you really plan to make a pie?

  9. Read labels carefully. Don't automatically be swayed with bold-lettered claims offering new, improved, and healthier products. New labeling laws make it easier to decipher the truth about what's in the food you buy. Check out freshness and expiration dates on products whenever possible to make sure you're purchasing food at peak quality.

  10. Scrutinize the scanner. Checkout scanners don't always ring up the true price. Be vigilant and watch the register display carefully. With the supermarket's circular in hand, pay particular attention to sale items. The majority of scanning errors occur on these products.
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