10 Important Things We Learned About Grocery Shopping This Year

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Michaela Cisney)

Grocery shopping. Everyone has to do it, but not everyone knows what they’re doing. We rounded up some of our top 2016 grocery store tips, tricks, and helpful advice so that next time you walk through those whooshing doors, you’ll be a master in the fine art of grocery shopping. Your refrigerator, pantry, and cupboards — and, ultimately, your belly — will thank you.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

Here’s our basic roundup of 10 essential tips for smart grocery shopping. Do you know the best time of day to shop? Or if it’s important to know what’s on sale? Or how to work those coupons (or not)? We do, and we’re sharing all of our learned-it-the-hard-way grocery shopping secrets with you.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

How exciting! Whether you’re on your own for the first time in a brand new apartment or you’ve just moved into someplace new, you’ve got a brand-new kitchen to stock. Exciting, yes, but also overwhelming. Here we coach you through the steps of setting out to fill your empty cupboards and refrigerator. And it all begins with (you guessed it!) a shopping list.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

“Buy in bulk!” everyone claims. “It will save you tons of money.” Is this true? Do you really have to give up a whole closet for your toilet paper stash in order to save a few pennies at the checkout? Well, yes and no — much depends on if you know what you’re doing. And when it comes to Costco, we know what we’re doing!

(Image credit: Jessica Fisher)

The biggest container is always cheaper, right? And I should use up all my coupons and never go off my shopping list and always stock up when stuff is on sale. And I should never, never shop when I’m hungry. Never. We all know the tried-and-true sayings about the best way to grocery shop. But are they true? Are they really, totally, completely true?

(Image credit: Gina Eykemans)

So you’ve decided that it’s time to try one of those diets that’s very specific, very strict, and very ingredient-heavy (no Slimfast milkshake shortcuts here!). After steeling your resolve and plumping up your willpower, your next step is to stock your kitchen full of the good stuff to set yourself up for success. It’s going to be a big shop, though, so you’re going to need some intel on how to approach it. Lucky for us, Gina knows the way.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

It used to be you either grocery shopped or you went out to dinner. But now there’s a third option: the meal kit, those boxes of pre-measured ingredients and recipes you order online and have shipped to your door. People are pretty convinced that meal kits are convenient and efficient, but aren’t they also pretty expensive? Jill investigates and draws her conclusions.

(Image credit: Kimberley Hasselbrink)

We always hear about how shopping at Costco is cheaper and saves us time by buying in bulk, but that only really works if you actually use the stuff you purchase. I mean, a single gal can only eat so many English muffins from the double 12-pack before things start to go a little … stale. Meghan shows us how to shop smart, stock up the freezer, and make our mornings just a little less hectic to boot.

(Image credit: Lisa Freedman)

Sometimes grocery shopping happens at places besides the grocery store and farmers markets. Sometimes you’re shopping for a new work blouse and suddenly find your cart laden with bottles of bruschetta topping and boxes of trail mix. How can you not buy that $3.29 caviar, even if you’re almost sure it’s not top-notch? Who doesn’t want a large sack of fennel saffron sea salt?

(Image credit: Alice Choi)

How do you know you’ve moved to a good neighborhood? My answer would be that you’re within five minutes from a decent Asian grocery store. Still, unless you read Japanese, Mandarin, or Vietnamese, navigating the aisles can be a little confusing. So many brands! So much bright and alluring packaging! Hurray for Alice Choi, who comes to our rescue with her top five essential Asian grocery store picks.

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Step into an Indian grocery store and you’re immediately hit with the scent of cumin and asafoetida and coriander and clove. You breathe deep, catching a hint of incense and lime. Before you know it, you’re confronted with an aisle of brightly colored lentils, bottles of rose water, and 23 different brands of ghee. Where to begin? Don’t worry — Michelle Peters-Jones knows just the place to start.