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12 Clever Supermarket Hacks to Save Money While Buying Groceries

Rajorshi Sanyal
Image source: Alexas Fotos/Pixabay

So you enter your neighbourhood supermarket to buy some milk and bread but end up with a Rs. 5,000 shopping bill. Sounds relatable? Well, supermarkets have upped their game considerably over time with their plethora of items and glitzy offers to enrich customers’ shopping experience. However, these irresistible offers do not necessarily bode well with our budget for monthly groceries. Also, we tend to clutter our homes with unnecessary items that often lead to wastage. Worse, these carefree indulgent shopping sprees soon become a habit and start eating into our core savings and impacting our financial plans.

However, a few smart tips can help us keep our grocery expenses under control, no matter how tempting it gets at the supermarket. Read on as we discuss 12 top grocery shopping hacks you’d do well to implement next time you visit one.

Make A Detailed Shopping List Based On Weekly Meal Plans

This may sound obvious, but many of us still give it a miss simply because we’re lazy. So, make this a rule: don’t walk into a supermarket without carrying your shopping list. Also, put in some effort to draw up the list after carefully scanning those empty containers and fridge cabinets that need a refill. It’s best if you could make a detailed meal plan for the next week and only include the required stuff in your list. This would ensure you don’t pick up unnecessary stuff and thus prevent wasteful expenses. That being said, all this makes no sense if you don’t stick to your list. So, be disciplined.

Avoid Going To A Supermarket Hungry

Yes, you read that right. According to a 2015 research conducted by the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, hunger actually increases our intention to acquire not just food items but also non-food objects. So you’ll be well-advised to have a meal before you head to the supermarket so that you can curb the impulsive temptation of buying that extra packet of cold-cut or box of chocolate cookies that were not included in your shopping list.

Taking Your Young Kids May Not Always Be A Good Idea

It may sound a bit heartless, but yes, even the best of us have given in to our kids’ tantrums in the supermarket.  So take your kids along only if you have to. Of course, this rule doesn’t apply if you have a sensible little one!

Give Those Shiny Carts A Miss

Many studies have examined and inferred how the size of shopping carts have increased over the years. Perhaps the most plausible reason behind it is that customers don’t feel satisfied until they’ve filled their shopping carts. But now that you know about it, there’s no reason why you should push a trolley every time you go to a supermarket, especially when you’re there just for a few items. The small baskets would work just fine. Best, for a handful of stuff, don’t carry the basket either.

Don’t Always Fall For The Items Placed At Eye Level

You might have heard about this before. It’s a fact many supermarkets place the more expensive, or new, or popular items at eye-level on aisles to boost their sales.  A simple hack is to look up and down to find cheaper (or maybe healthier) alternatives of the same product.

Check In-Store Brands Too

Many supermarkets have their own range of products which we don’t even consider as we’re accustomed to buying products of brands we’re loyal to. The point, however, is in-store brands are mostly cheaper than external brands. So, why to miss out?

Walk Straight To The Corners Where Essentials Are Kept

If you’re familiar with the layout of your neighbourhood supermarket, you might’ve noticed that often the essentials like grains, vegetables, and meats are placed right at the far-flung corner of the store. A possible reason behind this is supermarkets want their customers to walk past scores of aisles before they reach the counters selling essentials, in order to lure them into buying attractively-presented yet unnecessary things. So the hack is if you know where the essentials are kept, just reach for those corners, making a conscious effort not to pick up unnecessary stuff from the aisles on your way.

Don’t Fall For The ‘Convenience’ Trap

There are loads of items on the supermarket aisles that are sold at mark-up prices for the ‘convenience’ they are supposed to provide. You can rather buy the cheaper versions of the same products and make it convenient for yourself with a little effort. For example, you can buy a cheaper whole chicken and learn to debone it in minutes at home instead of paying a lot more for boneless chicken. The same applies to precut vegetables and fruits among other stuff.

Stick To The Stuff You Know

We’re not saying don’t be adventurous with food, but just because an item is imported (and hence, way more expensive) doesn’t mean it has to be good. Yes, many imported food items like cheese, chocolates, spices, sauces or seafood may not always please our palette. Worse, they are at times sold near to their expiry dates. So be real cool, and stick to the stuff that you’re familiar with and something that fits your budget.

Be Smart With Bulk Buying

Well, who doesn’t like those “Buy 1 Get 1” offers? But it’s not unusual to fill up our shopping carts with unnecessary stuff just because it’s available on offer. Worse, we do it thinking we’re actually saving money! So, be prudent when it comes to bulk buying and go for them only when you have a clear requirement for the product and you’d be able to use all the items, including the “free” ones, within their expiry dates. They say don’t be penny wise and pound foolish for a reason.

Relook At Your Cart Before Billing

Take a strong, hard relook at your shopping cart just before entering the billing line and ruthlessly remove products you picked up without much thought.  Let every item in your cart go through the tough scrutiny of this simple question — Do I really need this?

Boost Savings Through The Right Card

You can use a cashback credit or debit card to save some money every time you swipe it in a supermarket. Many credit cards also fetch extra reward points when you buy groceries which can be redeemed for catalogue gifts later. However, read the fine print to maximize the benefits and know the essential riders like caps on cashback and reward points, partnering stores and minimum spending requirements.

So the next time you’re at the supermarket, be clever with what you pick and how much. Also, be cautious not to fall for the ‘just in case’ trapping. Supermarkets put in a lot of thought behind every big and small aspect to boost their sales – right from the music they play to the way they display particular products. They even use something called “scent marketing” to attract customers to buy, say, freshly baked items! But now that you’ve been warned, let’s outfox them in their own game!

The author is a Content Manager with is a leading online marketplace for loans and credit cards.