Nothing is worse than the feeling of spending a fortune at the grocery store, but coming home to discover you literally forgot the one thing you sought out to get. You step in the store with every intention of grabbing a carton of milk, and leave with a box of powdered donuts, double stuffed oreos, a DIY can of Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls, and a negative dollar amount in your bank account. The truth of the matter is that supermarkets want you to spend more time in the store to draw in your attention to products you didn’t even know existed, that you now can’t live (or leave) without.
Each market is designed with this in mind, mastering the art of consumer manipulation through basic psychological hacks. So, you live and you learn- or in this case, you live and you leave with your carton of milk and your dignity. There are many ways to beat the supermarkets at their own game. One of which is to develop an understanding of the system that banks on you succumbing to the best of your better judgement by buying a month long supply of Bagel Bites that will frost away in your freezer for the next four, fun-filled months.
Do Not Come Hungry.
The number one rule is to never go shopping hungry. You will find yourself wandering down uncharted aisles, picking up unheard of products from the likes of pudding packaged in a box to pumpkin pie ice cream. Similar to the false satisfaction experienced when trying on clothes in a fitting room versus. in at home, the market manipulates you into thinking you need items, until you’re back at home, facing a half empty pantry packed with double stuffed oreos and Pirate's Booty.
Making Your Way to The Milk.
Have you ever wondered why the Dairy section of the store is situated (or hidden, for lack of better words) in the backend of the store? The reason for this minor inconvenience to customers is because the floor plans are designed to expose you to as many products a possible on your way to the essentials, such as dairy and produce. Be strong, be brave, and keep your eye on the prize to avoid getting distracted by the sugary treats located within the middle aisles.
Be Aware of the Baked Goods.
Walk within ten feet of a grocery store and chances are that you will be faced with a mouthwatering display of freshly baked goods. Once you enter with your huge cart, you will feel more enticed to indulge in these non-essential guilty pleasure buys than if the cart was full and you were on your way out. You are more likely to splurge on that marble cake when your cart is empty, the pleasant smells are suffocating your sense of judgement, and you’re ready to cave.
When In Doubt, Look To The Left.
Just as we drive on the right side of the road, we also tend to stick to the right side of the aisle to avoid any collisions with oncoming shopping carts. Items that are priced down are often times placed on the left side of the aisle, while more expensive items are place on the right hand side where they will be noticed more according to this natural phenomenon.
Avoid Buying Prepared and Packaged Foods.
While pre-washed lettuce and pre-cut fruit are wonderful luxuries, you may end up spending three times as much as you would simply buying the original product. Rest assured, you can easily make your own fruit cup at home and wash your own greens. Don’t get me started on grated cheese. DIY.
Sites to Help You Save
Ibotta: Get cash-back for your groceries by taking a photo of your receipt. Offers change weekly and once you have reached $20 or more in earnings, you can request payment via Venmo or Paypal.
Checkout 51: Another rebate option, this gem features a new list of about 20 offers every Thursday morning which consists of rebates on more unique items such as tomatoes, strawberries, and bananas.
SavingStar.com: Great way to get grocery and food coupons, which convert into store savings or actual cash back.
Shopmium: Similar to Checkout 51, this awesome app offers credit that can be redeemed at any store where the products are sold.
Coupons.com: Popular amongst prudent shoppers, this site links grocery and drugstore coupons to your loyalty cards, automatically saving them when you use your card at the register.
GroceryIQ.com: Great way to get organized and make a proper list before your grocery excursion.