10 Things the Smartest Grocery Shoppers Always Do

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

The smartest shoppers really know how to make the most of their trips to the store. It’s a skill, one I’m sure many of us wish we were better at. Smart shoppers know how to stretch their dollar further, avoid buying unnecessary items, and make their store work for them.

Want in on some of their secrets? Here are the 10 things smart shoppers always do.

1. They pay attention to what’s on sale.

Not only does this help them find an economical way to stock their pantries, but it helps them enjoy seasonal produce, and expand their horizons when it comes to trying new foods.

2. They know the best time of day to hit the grocery store.

Sorry, there’s not one universal best time for everyone. It all depends on your lifestyle and schedule. But the smartest shoppers know it’s best to avoid shopping when they’re tired or hungry, as that’s when they’re more likely to walk away with unnecessary impulse buys.

3. They know how to make their grocery store work for them.

Smart shoppers go beyond coupons when it comes to really getting value from the grocery store. While these offers don’t apply universally, your store may offer case discounts, let you try something before you buy it, and offer custom orders on meat, seafood, and produce. All you have to do is ask.

More on what your store can do

(Image credit: Christine Gallary)

4. They compare price tags.

Smart shoppers know how to read a price tag to make sure they’re getting the best deal. Rather than checking out just total price, they look at the price per ounce to compare the cost of different brands.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

5. They take tips from other smart shoppers.

Go shopping with another smart shopper, like Emma did with her mom. It may introduce you to some new budget-friendly tips or ways to make the most out of your groceries.

6. They know when to buy generic.

There are times when it’s totally worth it to spend a little extra for higher-priced, name-brand products. But sometimes going generic is the smarter move, like when buying certain dairy products, pantry and baking staples, and frozen produce.

7. They don’t get duped by coupons.

Coupons are great, and super helpful in trimming your grocery bill — as long as they’re used for items you actually need and like. There’s really little value in buying something unnecessary just because it’s a good deal.

(Image credit: Cambria Bold)

8. They get familiar with their favorite store.

Shopping at the same store allows you to become familiar with the sales pattern and when things get marked down. It also allows you to become familiar with the layout of the store, so you know which aisles you need to hit and which to avoid, ultimately saving time and money.

9. They know the best places to get a great deal on produce.

Smart shoppers know where to look for the best deals on produce, which isn’t always at the farmers market. Check out farm stands, U-pick farms, CSAs, or even the local grocery stores for the best-priced seasonal produce.

10. They have helpful tactics for those times they absolutely have to grocery shop while hungry.

We try to avoid it, but sometimes we have no choice but to hit the store when we’re hungry. Smart shoppers have smart tactics to handle these situations, like carrying only a basket, treating themselves to one healthy snack, and allowing themselves no more than 15 minutes in the store.