Grocery Shopping Strategies: 10 Basic Rules

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I recently had the pleasure of speaking to a local MOPS group on the subject of shopping strategies. With under an hour to cover this extensive topic (and believe me, I could talk all day), I decided to narrow down the strategies into 10 Basic Rules that I try to stick by.

  1. Do not shop while hungry. This is good common sense.
  2. Shop with a list prepared at home (not in the car on the back of an old receipt) and stick to it!
  3. Know your target price points. This will vary by region and season. For example, the price to beat on a gallon of milk in my area is currently $2.00, same for a loaf of bread.
  4. Use Coupons: combine a coupon with a sale to save the most.
  5. Beware of product placement strategies on shelves and endcaps. The best deals are usually high or low on shelves, and not on the endcaps.
  6. Eliminate brand loyalty. Be willing to try a variety of brands depending on what is the best value.
  7. Find a great deal? Stock up! Since sales only come around every 8-12 weeks, buy enough to last you through the next sale.
  8. Get in, get out. Studies have shown the more time you spend inside a store, the more money you will spend. Don’t dilly dally!
  9. Avoid impulse buys (see number 2). Especially at the checkout stand, where prices are inflated.
  10. If possible, leave the kids at home. Enough said.

I had a lot more to say on this subject, but even just applying a few of these strategies to your shopping trips will ultimately save you money.

What would you add to the list?


  1. Monroe on a budget says

    I did NOT take my toddler daughter to grocery store when I was a single / divorced parent.

    I shopped during my lunch hour … or between work and picking her up at babysitters … or when she was at grandma’s home / her dad’s / etc.

  2. ginabad says

    Great tips. An adjunct to #2: when making your list REALLY LOOK at what you need. I can’t tell you how many times I forgot to check the bathroom, or the freezer, or the pantry. Check them ALL when making your list. Takes more time, but then you won’t do “Oh no! I forgot toilet paper”, when you’re running to the bathroom after you get home :-)

  3. Alyssa @ KeepingTheKingdomFirst says

    Monroe- that’s a great strategy! I did the same when I was a single parent.

    Ginabad- SO true! That’s why you have to make it at home, when you can really check and take your time.

  4. Anonymous says

    I have to say that I take the kids to the grocery store. I see it as a learning experience for them. I have a seven, five, and two year old (along with a newborn) and the three older ones know that if it is not on sale and I have a coupon we will not get it. No arguement, no tantrums. That is the way I learned with my mom!

  5. april says

    Always check the scatch and dent section, manager’s special area, etc. If something is close to the expiration date, ask a manager if they will mark it down.

    Always carry all of your coupons with you because you never know when you will find a deal(like a few weeks ago at Dillons, I found some of the Reynold’s oven bags on clearance for $0.99 and I had a bunch of $0.50/1 coupons. It wasn’t something I had planned, but couldn’t pass up free and I can easily donate them)

  6. Julie says

    Shop with a calculator. If you give yourself a dollar limit before you enter the store, the calculator will help keep you from too many impulse buys.

  7. Jennifer says

    I take my daughter to the store with me, but her attention span is sometimes shorter than my list! So, I often get the non-perishables during my lunch hour and then take her with me for the rest on one of my days off. That way she’s learning, and we’re all still sane when we get home!

  8. Anonymous says

    I make a note on my list what the add says (BOGO, Buy 2 get 1) and the size that is on sale. Sometimes once you get to the store that sale tags are not easily seen. I also make a note if I have a coupon for something on the list. Then lastly when I put something in my cart I write the price on my list so I can double check at the cash register.

  9. Felicia Eis says

    Thank you so much for sharing all these great tips!! I am just starting out in figuring out ways to save my family money and its not easy :P So thank you for the tips because they will help!!!

  10. Bonnie says

    I like anonymous’ tip about writing down the price. Especially if you already had a list, that really wouldn’t be hard to jot it down after you put it in your cart. I would love to capitalize on many store price guarantee policies (free if it rings up incorrectly) but it always baffles me how to remember and catch any errors.

  11. debbieb says

    After I make my list (and I shop by my list – I don’t have enough memory left to get out of the store with the one thing I really needed!), I use a different color and star the items that I have a coupon for – that cuts down my time at the store and I can check my coupons at home and compare them with what I already have so I can make the most of my weekly budget. I also categorize my list – all the dairy together, all the canned goods, etc – it helps me not get to the end and realize that I forgot something I walked right by – again getting out sooner.

  12. CJ says

    I find its better for me if I do shop when I’m hungry. If I shop after eating, I end up going home without things that I actually need, because food doesn’t look as appealing when I’m full. I just try to be sensible with what I buy, no matter when I shop.

  13. rain@free groceries says

    I definitely agree with you 100%!
    I am aware of these basic rules but sometimes…I still fail! lol! my impulse,my impulse!
    Now my plan is cutting the time Iwent to grocery,instead of per week basis I will try monthly basis… hope it will do good on me. ^_^

  14. Rachel says

    Great tips! I almost always bring my kids shopping. It is a great experience for them. They are able to learn to talk to people, how to act in the store, colors, shapes, numbers, and lots more! To help me get in and get out quickly I make each child their own list of about 5 or 6 things. They each get one thing from each section of the store to get and mark off of their list. I draw a picture of the item and then write the name of it. Since I started doing this my shopping trips are actually fun!

    I also have a printable by aisle grocery list that I typed up using the store map. This way I can write what I need on each aisle and not have to go back and forth through the store.

  15. Dawn Grant says

    Alyssa, I have several chronic illnesses that keep me from driving. So shopping has always been a family affair. My husband and I shopped with a nineteen month and newborn, and cont. to take them with us until they were old enough to leave on their on. We taught them how to look a prices unit vs the other and always use coupons.

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