6 ways to save money at the grocery store

Be shopping-cart smart with these easy ways to save money at the grocery store.

Who doesn’t want to stretch their dollar at the grocery store? Read on for helpful tips that will help you save money, and—just maybe—enjoy grocery shopping a little bit more.

1. Plan ahead
The biggest trick to saving on your bill is to make a weekly meal plan so you aren’t throwing food—and your money—away. Make a list and shop accordingly. No impulse buys allowed—unless staple items are on sale. If you have the storage space, it pays to stock up.

2. Think smart (phone)
Use apps to make your shopping cheaper and easier. Checkout 51 posts a list of deals every Thursday morning. Pick what you like, buy it at any store and upload a photo of your receipt. For every $20 you save, Checkout 51 will cut you a cheque. Flipp lets you browse weekly flyers and clip coupons to make price matching simple. And SOS Cuisine plans your meals and finds nearby deals on ingredients.

3. Look down
Typically, the foods stocked on the middle shelves, directly in your sightline, are the leading brands and bestsellers. Just under them are the products that appeal to kids, but the bottom shelf is where you’ll generally find the cheaper generic or store brands and bulk items.

4. Go alone (if you can) on a full stomach
Taking the kids can make it hard to shop thoughtfully, and tossing a few extra items in the cart to placate them takes a toll on your bill. Shopping hungry has a similar effect: One study showed that we buy more of everything—not just food—on an empty stomach.

5. Ask around
Talk to the store manager or a customer service rep for some insider intel that will help you save: Do they price match? Are there any end-of-day discounts? (Some stores reduce perishable items such as meat in the final hour of business.)

6. Pay attention when you pay
Keep an eye on the scanner as your groceries come down the conveyer belt. If the scanned price is wrong, and it’s under $10, you get the item free; if it’s over $10, you get $10 off. It’s all part of the Scanner Price Accuracy Voluntary Code, which most major grocery stores have adopted.

A version of this article appeared in our September 2015 issue with the headline “Be grocery-cart smart,” p. 139.

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