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Supermarket Savvy: How to Navigate the Supermarket
By Kathy B. Glazer   View more articles by this author
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August 14
Consumers need to have a game plane when shopping for groceries at the supermarket. In this economy it is even more important to have strategies that stay within your budget and keep your waist line from expanding.
 
Here are some major tips to keep in mind before your next shopping trip.
 
1.      Plan Ahead:
a.    Check the store’s ads for weekly specials. The front and back pages have the most discounted items.
b.     Make up a menu and incorporate foods on sale and produce in season.
c.     Review what‘s currently in your refrigerator, freezer and pantry. This way you can avoid over buying staples or commonly used items like cereals, soups, snacks.
d.    Take any coupons along that you planned to use. Only clip the coupons of items you plan to purchase. Remember that coupons are offered as incentives to get you to try new items. Just because there is a coupon does not mean you have to purchase it.
e.     If there is a special sale advertising 10 yogurts for $10.00 and you don’t need 10 cups of yogurt, only purchase what you need (example 3 containers).
f.      Make a list and clip the coupons to it.
2.      Do Not Shop Hungry:
a.      Hunger causes you to buy on impulse, it can blow your budget and cause havoc to food intake.
b.      If you are hungry you may buy foods you had not intended to buy.
3.      Shop at Off-Peak Hours:
Plan your shopping trip mid-week, or early morning and late evening. Stores are less crowded and you can get in and out faster. The lines to check out will not be long as well. The more time you spend in the store increases the likelihood that you will spend more money and purchase more items.
4.      Join the Supermarket’s Customer Club:
a.      You will get automatic discounts on special items without having to use coupons.
b.      You can also download coupons form the website and from manufacturers too.
5.      Shop the Perimeter of the Store:
a.     If you are just going in for a few items only use a small hand held basket or small cart, if available. The size of your basket will limit your purchases and decrease the impulse items.
b.     Remember to take your own shopping bags into the store. Some stores give you two to five cents rebate for each bag you use. Store them in your car or your shopping cart after you empty the bags so they are ready for the next trip.
c.     Leave the children at home when shopping. They can increase the contents of your shopping chart. If you have to take the children with you limit the choices of what they can pick out to purchase.
d.     Try to make most of your choices from the outer sections of the store. The center aisles have more processed foods. Usually up front is produce. Pick a rainbow of colors in your selection of fruits and vegetables you add to your cart. They are chocked full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and nutrients.
6.      Dairy and Milk Products:
These items tend to be in the far corners of the store. The management knows you want these items and make you pass more merchandise to tempt you to add more items to your cart.
7.      Meat and Fish Department:
Look for specials and markdowns. Check the sell by date. Markets mark down items for quick sale that are getting close to the sell by date. Take advantage of these items if you plan to use the item that day or the next. At the fish counter ask the clerk when the fish was delivered to get the freshest fish.
8.      Shelf Placement:
Manufactures pay more money to have their items in prominent locations on the shelf, such as eye level for adults. Ever notice that children’s cereals are located on lower shelves? Generic items and store brands can be located on the very top and or very bottom shelves. These items are less expensive and the quality is generally good.
9.      End of Aisle Displays:
These are sale items and can be impulse purchases. Do you really need 6 cans of tomato soup?
10.    Shopping in the Center Isles:
Try to go down only the aisle you need; for example, if you need pasta, go right to the pasta section and move on.
11.    Salad Bars and Prepared Food Counters:
These can be very handy for last minute meals or meal preparation. Remember that you pay extra for the convenience—if you’re making a stir-fry tonight, buy cut-up veggies to save time. There are also bagged vegetables washed and cut up in the produce section. Rotisserie chickens are usually a good buy. At home portion out what you need and package up other servings to freeze for future use.
12.    Check out Counter:
Beware of impulse items at the check-out line. Some stores have no candy displays on certain lines.
So next time you are going shopping plan ahead and remember the tips above and you will be a savvy supermarket shopper.

 

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