Store memberships

Customer handing membership card to supermarket cashier.Memberships at grocery stores usually come with benefits that can save you money at the store. They are especially helpful if you do most of your shopping in one place. Benefits vary from store to store, but they usually include discounts on certain items, coupons, and cash back offers. Some store memberships also offer discounts at gas stations, restaurants, and local attractions. Many grocery store memberships are free, but memberships to “wholesale clubs” such as BJ’s or Costco usually have a fee. Wholesale clubs offer items at a discount because they are sold in bulk. Remember, for memberships that have a fee, you’re only saving money if you shop there often and if you can use the large quantities that they sell. It’s not a bargain if the food spoils before you can eat it all. Next time you go to the grocery store, ask the cashier about memberships and learn how you can save!

Using insulated shopping bags

Three blue plastic ice-packs.Have you ever seen reusable, insulated shopping bags at the grocery store? They help keep cold foods cold, which prevents the foods from going bad too soon. These bags are a great investment, especially if it takes you a long time to get home from the store. If you avoid buying cold foods because you can’t keep them cold on the way home, then these bags will give you more food options. The bags work especially well if you bring ice packs or buy frozen food at the store. Some stores will even give you a discount every time you use the bag. They’re easy to clean, and you should clean them often if you use them for meat. Save money and keep foods safe by keeping your cold foods cold!

Shopping with others

If your main goal is to save money, it’s best to shop alone. Children won’t be there to ask for items that are not on your list or put things in your cart. It will also be easier to compare prices and products to get the best buy. And your shopping trip will probably be shorter. On the other hand, shopping with children has advantages, too. It’s an opportunity to teach them about foods and health, and let them choose healthy foods they might like. If you do take children, plan ahead. Make sure they are not hungry or tired. Plan what and how many choices you will let them have. For example, you might let them choose a vegetable, a fruit, a healthy cereal or snack, or a fun shape of pasta. Then check out in a child-friendly aisle to avoid tempting candy and treats. Plan ahead to get the most from your shopping experience!

Shopping with cash

Close-up of nickels and quarters on top of dollar billsIf you already grocery shop with cash, then you are ahead of the game.  If you are not used to it, try it. First, check sales where you will be shopping and make a grocery list of the things you need.  Invest in a cheap calculator and go to the store with enough cash to cover your food budget.  You might take a little extra in case you want to stock up on something on sale.  When you are limited by the cash you bring, you are challenged to use your creativity and buy only what you really need. Using cash can be a great money-saver!

Better buys, better health

A young woman and a boy in a grocery store shopping for fruits and vegetablesShop along the outer walls of your grocery store.  This is where the basics are – fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh dairy items, meats, poultry and fish, and breads.  Use inner aisles only for things you really need.  These aisles have more processed foods that generally cost more and have more fat, sugar, and salt.   Eat healthy and get the most value for your money.  Shop the outer aisles!  

Shop when you’re not hungry

Week 44Have you ever shopped for food when you were hungry? Even with a grocery list it’s easy to put a few extra things in your cart. Markets try to tempt you with fragrant bakery items and beautiful food displays so you’ll spend more money. So be prepared! If you don’t have a chance to eat before you shop, grab a piece of fruit or a granola bar and eat it on the way to the store. Or buy a healthy snack at the store and eat it before you begin your major shopping. You’ll find that it’s worth your time.

Using coupons wisely

Grocery coupons can save you money, but only if you use them for things you would buy anyway. Most stores have membership cards that give you electronic discounts on their specials at the checkout. Their fliers or websites can tell you the specials for the week. You also can find product coupons online as well as in newspapers and store fliers. If you find a good deal, and the store has run out of that item, ask for a rain check at the customer service counter. But even with coupons, compare prices. Sometimes other brands or store brands are still cheaper! Coupons can be great, but are not always the best buy!