The 8 Best Grocery Shopping Tips We Learned in 2022

published Dec 28, 2022
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Here at Kitchn, we’re constantly on the hunt for ways to make our grocery store visits more efficient. This year, navigating the aisles proved to be one of the most challenging in recent history (looking at you, supply chain and inflation!). And yet! We were still able to find a few smart tips to seek out high-quality products and save big.

We also chatted with store managers and cashiers, professional recipe developers, and frequent shoppers to learn their expert advice. These are the eight best shopping tips we picked up in 2022. Tips we plan to take with us into 2023 and beyond. Let’s take a look!

Credit: Cambria Bold

1. Shop the perimeter first (not just for the reason you think!)

The perimeter of the grocery store is where you’ll mostly encounter fresh foods, but Amy Eubanks, senior team leader for global culinary development at Whole Foods, says there’s another reason to hit this area first: “You’ll find out what is in season in produce, meat, and seafood.” That’s right — just like fruit and vegetables, meat and fish can and should be seasonal. Once you’ve stocked up on the fresh stuff, you can head into the center of the store for sauces, dried goods, and seasonings.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

2. Buy the store brand instead.

The number of store brands, or private-label brands, exploded this year — and their value is increasingly more attractive as prices remain, well, pricey. Many of them are as good as (if not better than) their name-brand counterparts. In a blind taste test, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell which is which and, in some cases, you might even think the store-brand product is the name-brand product. (Looking at you, Aldi!)

3. Hit up the baking aisle — even if you don’t bake.

Cookie doughs and cake batters aside, the baking aisle is actually one of the most versatile aisles of the grocery store. Here, you’ll find many groceries that will save you time and add nutrients, flavor, and variety to your everyday dishes. Vanilla extract ups the flavor in coffee, a brown butter sauce, or even some roasted veggies; raw nuts add a crunchy texture to oatmeal, yogurt, and salads; and canned pumpkin thickens soup and gives it a creamy, slightly sweet flavor. Sometimes we wonder why these items aren’t shelved in other parts of the store!

Credit: Shutterstock/urbanbuzz

4. If you do bake, grab a bottle of corn syrup.

Corn syrup is just one of the groceries contributor Katie Leird learned to love while working in a professional test kitchen. It’s different from high-fructose corn syrup (the ingredient found in many sodas and processed foods) and can be extremely helpful in baking. This invert sugar extends the shelf life of pastries, helps baked goods stay moist, and inhibits crystallization, which translates to smoother candiesicingsganacheice cream, and more. Basically, it does things granulated sugar can’t do.

5. Ask your butcher to vacuum-seal your ground beef.

If you won’t be using the ground beef within 48 hours from when you purchase it, the freezer is your best option. But because ground beef is prone to freezer burn, butchers have some specific advice for keeping it fresh. “You want to put it in a vacuum-sealed bag to remove all the oxygen,” says Rusty Bowers, co-owner of Chop Shop and owner of Pine Street Market, both in Atlanta. “Your local butcher shop should be able to vacuum-seal the ground beef for you,” he adds. You can even ask your butcher to portion the beef into half-pound packages before sealing, so you can grab just what you need for tonight’s dinner.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

6. Log what’s in your freezer.

While this may sound like a task, it’s one you’ll be glad to have completed. Whether you want to remove everything all at once, or work shelf by shelf, the idea here is to take inventory of what’s currently in your freezer and then log it somewhere you can easily access and update (a Google Sheet, Doc, or a free app, like Whisk are all excellent options). Knowing exactly what frozen ingredients or meals you already have on hand is an easy way to cut down on your shopping list from week to week.

7. Read your receipt before you leave the grocery store.

When you put groceries in your cart with a certain price tag in mind, you want them to get loaded in your trunk with that same price — or lower! Which is why you should spend just a minute or two reading your receipt to double check that everything is listed the way you expected. Mistakes are easy to make, whether it’s the cashier typing in the wrong code or the head office programming a sale price incorrectly into the computer system. Catching them before you leave makes it easy to have it remedied then and there. You’re also helping fellow shoppers. The sooner the store knows about errors, the better it is for everyone. They’ll make fewer mistakes, and your fellow customers will also come out ahead.

8. Take advantage of the gas savings.

Grocery savings can actually extend beyond the store, if you sign up for that rewards card! You can earn gas points when you use your club card. Ralph’s, a Southern California supermarket chain, offers one Fuel Point for every $1 spent. And, according to the site, we can redeem up to 1,000 Fuel Points for $1 off per gallon. Not all grocery stores have fuel rewards programs, but check to see if yours does. And then use it. Saving up to $1.00 per gallon can really add up!

Do you have a grocery shopping tip to share? Tell us in the comments below.