WASHINGTON — A little planning before the weekly trip to the grocery store can save big money.
Coupons can help, but there are other ways to save, including checking the store’s weekly circular.
“What you see on the front page of those circulars, those are typically the best buys, the best deals,” says Cameron Huddleston, online editor of Kiplinger.
Huddleston says items displayed on the circular’s front page are typically “loss leaders,” items that stores sell at or below cost to get shoppers in the door. Perhaps surprisingly, items listed inside a circular may not always be money savers.
“Within the circular sometimes there are items that are listed that are actually not on sale, they’re simply product placement,” Huddleston says.
Huddleston recommends stocking up on deeply discounted, non-perishable items.
“A good deal is when something is on sale for 50 percent off or more,” she says. “Most things other than produce have a very long shelf life so stock up if you have room in your freezer, if you have room in your pantry. Get it when the price is really low,” Huddleston advises.
Among Huddleston’s tips for saving money is something many grocery shoppers might never consider — haggling.
“This works for items that are about to reach their sell-by date, especially, perhaps, bakery items or even items in the deli section,” Huddleston says.
Stores must sell or dispose of items by the sell date. Huddleston says items are usually good at least a week past the sell date. She recommends showing the sell- by date to a store or department manager.
“It’s never going to hurt you to ask to see if you can get a lower price,” Huddleston says.
Other tips for saving at the grocery store: Check unit prices for the best values and pass up prepared and convenience foods, such as pre-washed and pre-cut vegetables.