Grocery Store Hacks - How to Maximize Your Dollar

Everyone has their favorite local grocery store that they frequent most often. But, if you live somewhere with plenty of variety, why not take advantage of what each store has to offer you. Some stores are too pricy to accommodate your entire grocery shopping list, but if you know what you’re doing they may be a better value than you might think. We’ve explored a few such stores and wanted to pass on these grocery store hacks.

We apologize if none of these stores are located in your area, but many of these suggestions are valid at other stores besides those listed. So, don’t be afraid to ask because many of these tips can help no matter where you get your groceries.

After all, warehouse shopping is not for everyone because you should only buy what you can use before it actually expires. Be sure to find out when all of your groceries actually expire by exploring all of our individual pages.

Whole Foods Hacks

How to Hack Whole Foods – Notes for Saving Money at Whole Foods Markets:

1) Select 365 products when given the choice. This Whole Foods brand is a quality product for a value price, every day of the year.

Free Salad Bar Items

Free Salad Bar Items

2) Choose wisely from the salad bar. Your salad will be priced by weight, so keep that in mind when choosing items to add to your salad. There are some items that are so light that you can almost pile them on for FREE. Take cooked bacon for instance, it weighs very little but adds a ton of flavor and protein to so many different dishes. You might want to skip certain items like watermelon and tomatoes (deceiving because they are full of water) – you’ll pay way more for them here than anywhere else. And lastly, be sure to put your dressing in the little containers provided and carry it on the side.

Free Lunch/Dinner Items

Free Lunch/Dinner Items

3) Check out the prepared food bar for a delicious take-out meal. These meals beat a frozen box that you still need to heat up at home. But again choose wisely, as it is also sold by weight. Again, light items can add to your main dish, almost for FREE. The selection here varies by region, but there is always something for everyone.

Free Samples

Cheese Professionals

4) Don’t buy things without trying them first. Whole Foods has a nice sampling station(s) where they provide tastes each day. They were even sampling wine in wine glasses the last time I was there. Whole Foods also hires Certified Cheese Professionals to help you with their huge cheese selection. They are happy to cut a piece of any cheese you want to sample at the cheese station. Once you find a cheese you like, they will even cut you a custom sized piece to take home. You probably knew this if you shop Whole Foods, but did you know that you can sample almost anything in the store? It’s a company policy and is actually quite easy to do, just ask a team member. Sometimes, they will even taste it with you and then give you the remainder… for FREE!

Free Services

Butcher Shop

5) Use their services. For example, the butcher can filet your fish, pound your cutlets or even break down your chicken. It’ll save you time and mess when you get home. Whole Foods hires experts in almost every department, so don’t be afraid to ask for help and an employee should be able to provide some helpful shopping tips.

Cheap Bulk Foods

Cheaper from the Bins

6) Check out the huge bins of bulk foods. These can provide big savings, one because you don’t have to pay for fancy packaging and two because you may have less waste since you purchase only what you will use and not some pre-determined amount.

Free Spice

Free Spice

7) Whole Foods also carries spices in bulk. These smaller scale bins of spices are also sold by weight. These can provide big savings since ground spices do not weigh very much at all. Sometimes, if you only need a little bit of a certain spice to complete your recipe, it may not even register on the scale! Which for you means… FREE SPICE!

Daily Specials

8) Check your local store for their daily specials. Usually, each store has a special every day of the week for many popular items. Sales for the coming week are announced on Wednesdays, so check their flyer or Facebook page. If your store has a bakery and a juice bar, you should find these prices cheaper than other local specialty shops.

Cheaper Produce

Reduced Produce

9) Although the produce at Whole Foods is carefully selected to be of top quality and beautifully displayed, it is NOT usually priced the most competitively. But, on the weekends they usually reduce the weekly specials even further.

Completely Free Items

10) Lastly, always pull your cart safely over to the side and check your receipt before leaving the store. If you find a mistake on your receipt, then take it over to customer service and they will be reimburse you completely for the item which rang up incorrectly… FREE item!

Hacks at Trader Joe's

bulk items

1) Everyday Super Bargains There are certain things that you should not leave the store without. Bananas, eggs and milk are generally priced better than anywhere around as far as we can tell. At 19 cents per banana, that’s 5 bananas for less than a buck! What a deal – sometimes the majority are green but they do ripen pretty quick. And, if you like cheap wine that’s actually decent, there’s always 2 Buck Chuck ($2.99 a bottle for Charles Shaw wines).

Free Samples

bulk items

2) Sample everything. Trader Joe’s wants you to only buy what you like and enjoy. They have a great free sampling station where samples change daily. But, if you see something new that you’d like to try simply take it to the sampling station and ask them for a sample. They will be happy to open the product and let you try it. And, all day every day they provide a nice hot cup of coffee or a glass of water to all shoppers.

bulk items

Try it at Home

3) Don’t keep what you don’t like. If you buy something that you take home to try and find that you do not like it, simply bring the remainder back with your receipt for a full refund. That’s store policy, they want you to be satisfied with their products.

Hacks at Safeway

Sale Items

1) If they are out of a sale item, which unfortunately happens quite often at our local store, find the same size of a similar product and then ask the clerk at check out if you can substitute for the sold out item. They have always either said yes or found another suitable substitution. If all the substitutes are also sold out, then go ahead and ask for a raincheck (a slip of paper that you need to place in your wallet so that you can pick up that item for the sale price next time you shop).

Free Samples

bulk items

2) The deli counter staff lets you sample anything in the deli case. If choosing between the many types of ham available, for instance, you can try a slice of each different kind before choosing which one to purchase. You can also put together a full meal from the deli counter by choosing an entree and two sides for $6.

Hack the Menu

bulk items

3) Their deli sandwiches, including breakfast burritos, are made in front of you for a pretty cheap price. They have a specific recipe to follow in making the sandwiches, but while you’re standing there you can customize your sandwich to your specific liking.

Additional Info

These are all grocery hacks for making meal preparation a bit easier, less wasteful and a little cheaper. But, if you’d rather avoid your kitchen completely and opt for fast food then you might want to check out for a full detailed list of all the fast food hacks available.

To find out how long other foods are good for, please visit the Dairy, Drinks, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, Vegetables and Other sections of Eat By Date or use the search function below.

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