Saving Money at the Grocery Store

1.  Stick to your list. Don’t buy on impulse. Stay away from samples and special sale displays. If you can, shop on your own. You’ll find it easier to stick to your plan that way.

2.  Shop the edges of the store first. Most of the nutritious foods that you need, such as dairy products, fresh meats, and fruits and vegetables are found on the outside edge of the supermarket, while the processed stuff is in the center aisles. Stock up on the fresh food first, then go to the middle of the store for the few packaged items you need.

3.  Cut back on expensive convenience items. For example, microwaveable bowls and individually packaged snacks can be budget busters. 

4.  Buy in-season. Fresh fruits and vegetables are less expensive and taste better when they’re in season. Remember to check out Connecticut’s own locally-grown produce at a local farm stand. 

5.  Use store brands if you can. Store brands are almost always cheaper. Beans, rice or veggies that are going into a stews or casseroles are  items that you can switch to store brands and save. 

6. Check the dates on foods and beverages. Sell-by, use-by and best-by dates help you buy items that will provide longest shelf life in your home.

7. Stock up only on those sale items that you will definitely use. Canned goods, soaps, and paper goods can be purchased in bulk and stored for extended periods, if space allows. Freezing bulk-purchased items may also be helpful if you have the space. 

8.  Ask for rain checks if the store runs out of advertised sale items that you need. Unless they’ve noted limited supplies in their sale ads, stores must give you a rain check for sale items that run out during the sale period. The store should contact you when the item is back in stock, but play it safe and check back in a week or so.

9.  Use unit pricing to compare costs between brands or sizes. In Connecticut and many states, labels posted on most grocery store shelves include two numbers—the larger, bolder number is the price you’ll pay at the register. The number printed in smaller type on the side of the label is the Unit Price, which tells you the cost per ounce, pound, or pint so you can get the most for your money.

Many people believe that larger sizes are always the best buy. Sometimes, the smaller package actually has a lower Unit Price than the larger.

10.  Watch your order get tallied and check your receipt. Although price scanning does help make the checkout process more accurate, errors still can happen. Make sure your prices and coupons are scanned correctly. If you suspect an error, complete your transaction, then step to the side and check the receipt while the clerk begins the next order. If you do find an overcharge or some other problem, go to the service desk and point it out. Sale items are especially prone to checkout errors, but most people never look, and end up overpaying.

See our page about the "Get One Free Law," which will tell you what you can do if items scan or ring up incorrectly at the cash register.