5 ways to save in the supermarket

Grocery shopping on a budget? Here are several easy ways to stretch your money in the supermarket.

5 ways to save in the supermarket

1. Know the store layout

  • The refrigerator cabinets containing basics, such as milk, juices and butter, are invariably at the back of the store, forcing you to walk past magazines, confectionery and countless other distractions to pick up a container of milk.
  • If you only need a couple of items, go to a store where you are familiar with the layout and leave with only those items.
  • Essential foodstuffs are usually displayed around the perimeter with the more costly ready-meals and prepackaged items in the centre aisles. The more you shop in the outer aisles, the more you'll save.
  • Just when you've mastered the layout of your local store, everything is rearranged. Avoid being tempted by unfamiliar displays and ask a member of staff to tell you where you can find specific items.

2. Deals and loyality programs

  • Clip coupons before you shop. If you buy the products featured, you could make substantial savings. If there is a special offer on any food on your list, check for a coupon that will give you even more savings. Combining special offers with coupons will reward you the most.
  • Some stores will match the lowest price offered by other retailers. Check the store's policy on this.
  • Some supermarkets offer their own credit cards, allowing customers to accumulate points for each purchase made. The points can then be used to buy groceries, as well as other items.

3. Beware "best before" dates

  • Only buy multi-packs if you know you'll be able to finish by the "best before" date, and don't let the supermarket tempt you to double your bill if you have no need for more than one of the item. Similarly, make sure two-for-the-price-of-one deals aren't just a ploy for getting rid of old or unwanted stock.
  • Products that have a later best before date will be placed on the shelf behind the ones that expire sooner, so check the dates carefully and reach for the back.

4. Avoid impulse buying and fancy packaging

  • If your store is open 24 hours, try shopping when the aisles are clear. You will shop at a faster pace and be less likely to impulse buy.
  • Buy generic-brand goods. The packs may look less interesting, but remember that dried and canned goods don't need fancy packaging.
  • Waiting in line can be boring, but don't even look at the items at the cash registers — they are impulse buys you don't need, and they usually have a high markup.
  • Supermarkets have a trick of placing higher-priced goods at eye level. Look up, or down, to spot the lower-priced items on the top or bottom shelf.
  • Items displayed at the end of aisles are not necessarily on sale. The eye-catching signs can be misleading, offering excess stock at regular prices.
  • If you have only come in for a loaf of bread, don't pick up a basket — you may fill it.

5. Discount deals

  • Supermarkets usually have at least one basket or shelf of discounted stock somewhere in the store. Cans with torn labels, ends of lines, or packets or boxes with minor dents will all be heavily marked down — by as much as 60 percent or more — and are worth investigating.
  • Buy cans without labels only if you're feeling adventurous. Never buy badly dented cans as their seal may be damaged and the contents could be spoiled and highly dangerous.

The best way to save money when grocery shopping is to have a plan— get in, stick to your list, and get out. Otherwise, you may find yourself purchasing items you don't need and won't use, which can add up to a huge waste of money!

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