Get the Best Grocery Deals

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Many savvy consumers take pride in shopping the sales for their retail goods. They track prices for items they want or need, compare online, scour the clearance racks, and look for scratch-and-dent deals to make sure they’re getting the best bang for their buck.

But did you know you can apply those same principles to grocery shopping? There’s absolutely no need to pay full retail price on the provisions you need when there are tools and tricks out there designed to help you save. Here are just a few of my favorites:

1. Download Brand Apps

Most of the mainstream supermarkets have their own apps now, and within them, you’ll have access to member-only discounts, store and manufacturer coupons, and even “secret” sales. Some stores have special weekend-flash deals that they release via mobile app, and others often have store bonuses, such as dollars-off in one particular category, like meat, produce, or salty snacks.

2. Check Healthcare/Vitamin Shop Sites

For non-perishable items, specialty condiments, and bulk buys, many consumers will go to large, online sites first. However, in addition to the larger issues of having to sort through hundreds of sometimes shady sources, potentially counterfeit products at unregulated price points, and not supporting local or American businesses … you can’t use coupons or add on promo codes. But not so at health-conscious retailers that have a wide range of niche and organic brands. An easy search on RetailMeNot.com often reveals active promo codes.

3. Don't Default to Your Local Wholesaler

Many folks simply assume that big clubs have the best prices, since everything is sold in bulk. But there’s a reason they have to list the per-unit pricing on their signs — and lots of reasons why you should notice them. Sometimes, you may be buying three times what you need and actually paying more than you would were you to grab it on sale at your local supermarket.

4. Find Out the Store's Meat-Shipment Schedule

Very often, grocery stores will mark down meats that are approaching their “sell by” date, because they either need to recoup the investment they made in stocking it or to make room for a new shipment. Either way, “sell by” is not the same as “expiration” nor “best by,” which gives you about a week’s worth of wiggle room … and typically a hefty discount. The best time to score these deals are the night before new shipments of meat are due to arrive, or that morning. One local market in my area typically reduces their meat by 30% when they need the space in the coolers, for example, and another will attach coupons for up to $3 off the package. However, before you buy, you should still check the broken-down price per pound. Not often, but sometimes, the price is higher than the current sale, in which case, we suggest you wait.

5. Look for the Discount Bakery and Produce Bins

Not all markets have these, but if one does, these sections are well worth a gander. Baked goods that are at the end of their “best by” are still good for a few more days, and can typically be refreshed by a few minutes in the toaster oven. Misfit produce that’s beginning to reach the end of its shelf lives can be great for dinner to be consumed that very day, or you can buy the grab bag for a few items that still look and feel fine and toss or compost what you can’t use.

6. Get Flipp

Honestly, this free coupon-collecting tool is my number-one favorite app on my phone, which may be because I’m an avid cook and grocery nerd, but bargain-hunters like me will love the highly visual, interactive interface. What it does is gather all of the current and upcoming circulars of your local stores and/or favorites, and puts them in one place. From there, you can browse them and tap to circle items and add them visually to your grocery list — it clips the picture for instant reference with no bulky text. And from your grocery list, you can compare the images of items you’ve selected, displayed with their advertised prices, to determine the side-by-side better buy, and/or which grocery store is better worth your gas money. Newcomer Basket operates in reverse — add things to your grocery list, and the app comparison shops right for you.

Tags: Budgeting, Saving Money

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Su-Jit Lin

Su-Jit Lin is a food, travel, wellness, shopping, and lifestyle writer who is passionate about writing stories that help. See Full Bio

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