INDIANAPOLIS — Food is a constant and necessary item in most everybody's budget, and the larger the family, the more importance that grocery shopping takes on.
Cherie Lowe, the Queen of Free, said there is a right and wrong way to grocery shop. On 13Sunrise and in her blog, she pointed out the most common grocery store mistakes we make, and how to avoid them.
"Check your store’s weekly ad before you leave home," Lowe recommended. If you do your homework and check your pantry and freezer for what you already have on hand, you will be less likely to overspend or buy what you don't need.
Make a list and stick to it. Clip coupons or load digital coupons after you make your list for items you need. Take advantage of your store's rewards program, which will track what you buy most often and offer discounts on some of those items.
Knowing store policies is critical. "At Kroger 'Buy 1, Get 1' deals don’t ring up as one item free, one item full price," Lowe explained. "They ring up as half price. At Meijer, 'Buy 1, Get 1' is just that. One item will ring up for $0.00 and the other for the full price," which means you can save on just one item at Kroger.
Don't waste time in the store
"The more time you spend in the store, the more money you spend there, too," Lowe said. And stores are laid out to make you spend time there, placing the most-needed items in the back so you have to roll past the snacks and discretionary items that might catch your eye.
"It’s best to the shop the perimeter of your grocery store," Lowe said. "It’s where the most affordable and nutritious foods call their home. Think – fruits, veggies, produce, and dairy."
If you do wind up falling for a deal (buy five and save $1, but do you really need all 5?) or grabbing something that's not on your list, Lowe recommends following the 3-5 rule. "Put back 3-5 items right before you check out. Don’t stick them on the end cap or drop them in the aisle," she said. "Simply tell the cashier you don’t need the items after all and hand them back with a polite smile."
Don't shop hungry
If you're hungry when you go to the store, "you enter the store with eating on the brain," said Lowe. So shop after you eat a full meal, or at least grab an apple or banana or a handful of nuts or a protien bar before you grab your shopping cart.
Watch Lowe's full 13Sunrise segment with Gina Glaros in the video player.