When it comes to saving, coupons are key.
The average shopper cuts $30 off his or her bill with them weekly, according to RedPlum.com. But supermarket savings aren’t limited to just sales and coupons.
Taking advantage of certain store policies can make a big difference, too.
Whichever store or stores you frequent, it’s worth perusing loyalty program rules and making a stop at the customer service desk to ask if they offer these 7 policies that favor the consumer:
There’s no need to risk buying a large container of something you won’t like. You may be able to try before you buy—even if there’s no sample table in site.
At Whole Foods, team members are authorized to open most items for a customer to sample, and can in some cases send you home with a freebie.
But be sure to ask for help, instead of taking it upon yourself to taste. Many stores consider such sampling to be stealing.
If you don’t feel like cooking, yes, splurging on takeout or a restaurant meal is an option. But it’s not the only option.
The supermarket may do the work of cooking for you, for free.
Many ShopRite locations will steam lobster and shrimp on site for free; Whole Foods will cook most cuts of meat or fish.
Stores typically also slice bakery bread and cooked meats, which can represent big savings over packaged breads and deli meat.
Stores have curtailed generous coupon policies in recent years to curb extreme couponers, but many stores will still double or triple lower value manufacturers’ coupons.
It’s worth knowing the policy in case of a mistake at the register.
For example, Stop & Shop automatically doubles the value of every manufacturers’ coupon originally valued at 99 cents or less.
Martin’s doubles the value of coupons with a face value of up to 50 cents. Those worth 51 cents to 99 cents will be worth $1 instead.
You could visit multiple stores each week to get all the best sales. Or you could go to just one.
Some big-box chains that sell food, including Target and Walmart, will match competitors’ grocery prices. You just need to present the other store sales circulars as proof.
If you bought something you didn’t like, it’s worth asking for a refund. Many stores will offer you your money back, and then some.
At Stop & Shop, for example, there’s a double-money-back guarantee on items including store brands, meats, seafood, dairy, deli and bakery items, among other categories.
Ask when your store marks down items for final sale that day, and where those items can be found. Often, stores will mark down meat, dairy and produce items.
There may also be a section for seasonal items, damaged goods and other clearance packaged foods. A&P and Publix both have dedicated shelves of items that have been marked down.
Some stores regularly offer deals to older shoppers. At many C-Town locations, customers who are 60 and older get 5% off on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Fry’s Food & Drug offers 10% on the first Wednesday of the month to shoppers 55 and older.
Frugal Foodie is a journalist based in New York City who spends her days writing about personal finance and obsessing about what she’ll have for dinner. Chat with her on Twitter through @MintFoodie.