8 Secrets to Effective Grocery Store Shopping

  1. Shop Several Grocery Stores

Every grocery store has what they call their “loss leaders”.  These are items which the store sells at a loss.  Stores typically advertise these items heavily, and they are a tool used to get you in the door.  Stores also have items premium-priced where they make money.  For instance in my area, Walmart is extremely competitive with their canned goods and Great Value brand.  Their spices, dairy and meats aren’t so competitive, especially their spices.  Pay attention to prices and look around.  Typically you can save a lot of money by shopping at two different grocery stores and buying loss leaders.  A great combination is a regular grocery store and wholesale clubs like Sam’s or Costco.

2.  Buying in Bulk

Most people assume that buying the largest package is the cheapest.  This isn’t always the case.  Stores know that people assume “bigger is cheaper” and so they sometimes add on a couple of cents per ounce for the bigger bags/cans.  Sometimes bigger is cheaper, but you need to pay attention to the price per oz/lb and compare different sizes.  For example, I have found that buying the small store brand cans at Walmart is cheaper than the #10 cans at Costco or Sam’s Club.

3.  Take Notes

On the costly items that you buy frequently, take notes of the different prices at different grocery stores.  Write down the price per unit on your shopping list and compare them.  Below is a chart that illustrates what percent of a facility’s grocery bill is spent in each different category.  This can give you a place to start for comparing price

Grocery Breakdown Graph


4.  Don’t Shop Hungry

When you go shopping hungry, you end up buying a lot more food.  Haven’t we all shopped hungry and come home with a cornucopia of frivolous food?

5.  Shop Healthy

Contrary to popular belief shopping for healthy items is often cheaper.  When health is our standard, we avoid many of the snack foods and drinks that are expensive.  Also, many processed, highly packaged and convenience foods are more expensive than non-processed foods.

6.  Don’t Rush

Grocery stores will place the more expensive items where they are easily seen and accessed.  The items at the end of the aisles are almost always more expensive than the items in the aisles. The same holds true along the aisles.  The items at eye level typically are more expensive.  Take your time and look around for the cheaper item.  It is almost always there, but may take a little more time to find.

7.  Sale Items

Be careful with sales.  Sometimes they provide great savings; sometimes they do not.  Make sure you have a basic idea of the non-sales price per oz/lb for an item before you buy it on sale.

8.  Fresh Products

In season, go ahead and buy the fresh product.  Out of season, buy canned or frozen.  Many people think that frozen fruits and vegetables loose much of their nutritional content.  This is not true and in many instances the opposite is true.  Fresh foods are often picked before full ripeness is achieved.  Frozen foods are generally picked in optimal state of ripeness.

Do you have some shopping strategies that help you save money?  We’d love to hear from you below in the comments.