What's a bit of supermarket shopping savvy that you can share with everyone here?

items in paper grocery bag

Drawing's closed and winner's been emailed!

It's back: Supermarket Week returns to AOA this week. We'll have a bunch of posts about supermarkets -- including a new version of the popular Supermarket Showdown price comparison -- because, well, we all have to eat.

To start things off, we have a drawing for a $100 gift card to the local supermarket of the winner's choice. To enter the drawing, please answer this question:

What's a bit of supermarket shopping savvy that you can share with everyone here?

The range of possible answers is very wide. Maybe it's a tip about how to play the coupon game. Or maybe it's the best local market for finding a certain item. Or maybe it's about your system for doing your shopping quickly. Or maybe it's the best way to pick out a certain type of fruit or vegetable.

We'll draw one winner at random. That person gets the $100 gift card of their choice. (The gift card must be to a supermarket in the four core counties of the Capital Region.)

Important: All comments must be submitted by 11:59 pm on Wednesday, November 16, 2016 to be entered in the drawing. You must answer the question to be part of the drawing. (Normal commenting guidelines apply.) One entry per person, please. You must enter a valid email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. The winner will be notified via email by noon on Thursday and must respond by noon on Friday, November 18.

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Comments

Never go grocery shopping hungry - you'll be more inclined to make impulse purchases.

Another tip - shop at night, less crowds.

I'm a big fan of places that honor competitor's coupons.

If you don't see something, ask someone.

I shop fairly early in the morning and the produce guys don't put out the fragile items like cilantro that early because they'll wilt by the time the crowds get there. But they always bring me out some if I ask. Also at the fish counter, they often have some of the pricier fish frozen (this is at the Central Avenue Hannaford at least) and will happily go into the freezer and get you some. Since most of the fish in the display was previously frozen anyway, I have no problem buying it still frozen.

Try to minimize the amount of trips you take to the grocery store. Stock up with a big trip once per week, rather than going every couple days. Each trip, you're bound to encounter more "extras" you want to buy, and you'll end up spending more money.

That's what happens to me, anyway.

One word: Aldi. Such great deals. Buy their pesto. Amazing and so cheap.

Aldi's is the cheapest for packaged foods, and has some great organic options for a lower price.

Price Chopper will take the $10 off $100 coupon issued periodically by Shop Rite.

Do your shopping either really early in the morning or really late at night - you're able to zip through the stores really quickly to get everything you need.

Also - I have to echo Cliff. Aldi is awesome!

As obvious as it sounds, don't forget to comparison shop by looking at the price per unit, rather than the item's actual price. Although you might reasonably assume that buying in bulk offers a discount, it's not always the case.

Don't ever shop at Wegman's because once you do you'll never want to go to any of the local supermarkets again 😉

If on a grocery run to last a couple weeks or so, always go to the same store and always take the same route through the store - outside first, then perpendicular to the aisles, going in only when something on your list is in that aisle. In and out as quickly as you can.

Always try to make friends with the butcher.

Don't be afraid to try the supermarket brand!

For artichokes, pick the ones with the thickest stems. They will also have the biggest heart, which is the best srt of an artichoke.

Buy fabric shopping bags. These don't break as easily as the plastic bags from the market. And you can pack more items into a single bag.

My two tips have to do with how you make the list:
1. Make your grocery list in the order of how you walk through the store, so that you don't have backtrack too much.

2. I also like to put it on the back of an envelope, and put any coupons I want to use inside so I don't forget to use them.

Invest in a chest freezer so you can stock up on meat when there are good sales.

Google Express arrived a few weeks back and although initially disappointed when using it to order from Wholefoods as 5 out of 7 items did not ship, I now use that flaw to my advantage. As there is a $15 minimum order (and free shipping for the first 6 months), I order some of those same items knowing that they won't ship in order to meet the shipping threshold. It's also worth shopping from their sale category, where the prices are actually decent.

Use the bulk section at the Honest Weight when you just need a little bit of spice or flour (or other random or possibly weird baking item) for a recipe you may not ever make again. It'll save you both money and space at home!

DYK: Price Chopper has great deal on 2 foot mix sub for $20
Delicious and great for parties. Also includes 4 containers of condiments.

PC has additional electronic coupons offered on their website and at the iSave coupon machine in the store lobby.

fliers, fliers, fliers and don't forget to keep your eyes peeled for online coupons

Don't shop hungry like I always do.

Make a plan--shop on Sunday or Monday...don't go shopping hungry or with kids (or worse, with hungry kids).

Don't get hung up on the "benefits" of random promotions (eg gas), especially if the cost of your groceries at that chain doesn't offset the "benefit" from the promo.

I've noticed Target has a lot of unique items you can't find anywhere else. Special edition flavors and such for all kinds of things. Fun for around the holidays!

Shop early in the morning when the store first opens or late at night about a few hours before closing. You'll find a lot of deeply discounted meat in the butcher shop. There's nothing wrong with it and if you don't plan to use it within a day just pop it in the freezer until you're ready to use it. I find that Hannaford's has the best meat discounts.

Use the bulk bins at Honest Weight; they allow you to get the exact amount you need for a recipe or to stock up without overpackaging.

Plan your meals/recipes in advance and make a grocery list from that. Also, do bulk cooking and freeze it up, that way you don't have to cook every day.

Buy in bulk at the Honest Weight Coop.

Don't over buy, especially sale items. Be realistic about how soon you'll use up the food. I've personally wasted too much food that spoiled or went stale. Throwing out food is not frugal.

Also, pull products from the back of the shelf as the expiration dates will be later.

Aldi is the place to go. Keep an "Aldi quarter" ready to go in your car ashtray and you'll always be ready to grab your cart.

Shop around the outside walls of the store first - produce, bakery, meats, dairy.
Bring reusable bags.
Avoid shopping on Sundays. It's cray.

Meal plan and incorporate ingredients that can pull double duty. By cooking something bigger or more time consuming, like a whole chicken or big pot of beans, on the weekend, I then have those leftovers to use throughout the week. I also do what was mentioned above and write my list in order of walking through the store. Saves time and with both these tactics I'm less likely to go off list or budget.

Stock up on staple meat/poultry/fish when they're on super sale to make it through the next few weeks of high prices!

Don't send your husband grocery shopping. They are blind to sales signs.

Don't send your wife grocery shopping. They will spend hours trying to get the best deals.

@ Hannaford they have a new system called Clynk where you get hefty bags with serial number stickers that you can then use to put all of your redeemable returns into the bag and drop it off next to the redemption machines. A day or so later, you use your card that they give you to scan at the machine and receive a voucher for all of your redemptions.

Beats waiting in line at the can redemption machines, which always seem to fill up or jam, or waiting in line to return sticky cans.

Just drop em off and the next time you shop, scan and print your voucher. Much faster and more efficient.

I take my phone with me literally everywhere. Utilize a grocery list app like Grocery IQ to organize what you plan on picking up. I have my phone on the counter while I cook and have gotten in the habit of writing down what I need just as I run out. It even has a barcode scanner if your hands are dirty! It's great for budgeting since you're only picking up stuff you have on your list. It's also got coupons in the app that you can import to your grocery store card (locally it goes to Shop Rite). You can make lists which are handy in specialty stores like the Co-op and the Asian supermarket or even the hardware store. No more leaving your list at home!

Your Target cartwheel barcode is individual to you, so you don't need to print it out each time you go to shop. Plus if you are crafty, you can make it into a tag on your key chain.

Become familiar with the bulk department at Honest Weight Co-op. You can buy just enough for one recipe when you're interested in a new ingredient, stock up during one of their great sales, or just marvel at the incredible variety. Long ago, as a graduate student who still wanted to eat good food, I learned about the affordability of bulk departments and I've been hooked ever since!

Take a sharpie to the coop so you don't have to mess around with the little stickers and golf pencils for the PLUs.

To reduce waste, buy in bulk! The Honest Weight Food Co-op has one of the best bulk departments I've seen (nuts, snacks, grains, baking and spices) and I can pick up just what I need for a specific recipe. Plus things are priced lower in bulk so it's a win-win.

Don't bring more items than allowed onto the express line.

You don't necessarily need to go to the big stores to get deals! The Asian supermarkets can be much lower priced on some things.

Online shopping is a great way to save money. You can compare brands/prices by price per unit. You are also less likely to impulse buy.

Price per ounce is the best way to determine value.

Stick to the shopping list

Try to make shopping trips at night. There's never a crowd.

Go grocery shopping early in the morning before work if you can to avoid crowds. After work and weekend crowds are sometimes enough for me to push off grocery shopping all together.

Buy bulk on non-perishables. You can never run out of toilet paper, light bulbs, rice and toothpaste.

Don't go to the store when you are hungry or feeling creative.

Make a list, and don't go shopping hungry!

Due to my local Price Chopper never having more than one line open, the self checkout is always my go-to option even if it can be frustrating.

If you're using your own reusable bags, wait until you're done scanning everything to bag anything - the weight of the bags will throw off the scale if you add them mid-scan.

The top shelf of the larger scanning unit also weighs contents - meaning, you can put larger scanned stuff up there without the machine complaining 'place the item in the bag'.

If you have produce without stickers/barcodes, let people in front of you until you can get a self checkout unit with the wheel-of-produce-codes on the top of it. Why Price Chopper doesn't just shell out the few extra dollars to have these at each unit is beyond me. Seriously, wtf.

Ask for Rain Checks on sold out items.

Try to stay away from impulse buys. Usually (especially in my case) the things you throw in your cart last minute are no good for you or your wallet. It's definitely easier said than done, but all you need to do is stay focused on your list and not stray into the ice cream isle...

Best time to shop at Trader Joe's is 8 am, shelves fully stocked, plenty of parking spaces.

know what you need; buy what you need

Stock up at Wegman's anytime you're in WNY/CNY or Boston. Their Family Packs are worth it even for small households and you can't beat their quality.

For produce in the capital region, never trust Price Chopper for freshness unless you're going to use it the same day. Hannaford, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe's are the way to go.

Reusable bags!

If shopping on a Sunday, go early morning before Church lets out & avoid the crowds!

* Time is money
* buy store brands
* meat from butcher shop

Ugly produce at Hannaford! Very cheap and just as tasty.

I like to shop later in the evenings when the stores aren't busy. Makes my experience significantly more pleasant.

Read product labels and discuss unit pricing with your kids starting at a young age. You can't do it every trip and with every item (or you all will certainly go insane), but getting in the habit when they are young pays off down the road. Just be mindful of other shoppers and don't block the aisle while you are going it (another good lesson!).

Store produce like peaches or avocados in a paper bag to speed up the ripening process.

Check the ads (online) before you shop to see which stores have what you want on sale, or plan your menu around the sales.

I know Shoprite and maybe others have a digital coupon feature!

Check out the weekly sale flyers online before going to the store (eg. Market 32 on Delaware has a 12-pager).

Also...not exactly a "grocery" store tip but more of a "I'm broke and need cheap meals" tip: A scoop of peanut butter in Ramen Noodles makes it like, 10 times better (a friend mentioned this to me about a year ago and now I'm hooked).

self-checkout is the way to be

I keep a small journal of my regular buy items, like yogurt, flour, eggs, etc. and what the prices are at all of the local stores. I dabble at many of the shops in the region, so whenever I'm at each store I scribble down how much each regular item costs at that particular store. Sometimes there are sales or price reductions/increases, so it can help save time and money down the road.

Never go shopping without a list and stick to it!

Use the Grocery IQ App to keep track of what products you need at the store - it helps maintain a (relatively) focused and efficient shopping experience with fewer impulse buys.

Store your reusable canvas/fabric shopping bags in your trunk so that you're prepared for any last-minute grocery trips and won't need to use a pile of plastic bags.

Prepare! Make a list, clip your coupons, don't go shopping hungry.

Go to the Asian markets for a very good selection of green vegetables year round. Prices for scallions, lemons, limes and tofu are usually much much lower than the supermarkets.

I plan my meals ahead of time and make a list based upon the ingredients needed for those meals - that way I can buy only exactly what I need and not a ton of extras. I can zip in and out of the store in under 30 minutes with my list at the ready!

Don't ever buy herbs or spices in any supermarket; they are way overpriced, especially McCormick brands. Ocean State Joblot has most herbs and spices at $1/ fairly large jar. For very small quantities of herbs and spices, even some unusual ones, buy from the bulk section at Honest Weight or The Greengrocer.

Aldi has a lot of great deals, and so does Trader Joe's if you like Whole Foods-type products without the Whole Foods price!

Field goods plus Trader Joes plus Aldi's means eating well and never having to set foot in price chopper!

When selecting produce, choose whatever's furthest back in the cooler or on the shelf. Fruits and vegetables closest to their expiration date are placed closest to the front to encourage customers to buy them!

Make a list and stick to it!

Look at the weekly specials at all the regional grocery stores before deciding where to guy and/or what to cook for dinner.

Not a practical one: but enjoy the experience, look at things, be fascinated by the produce and the insane amount of items that a supermarket contains. Look for things you've never eaten before and buy them. Ponder the absurdity of you, the other shoppers, and all that stuff being in one place at one time. Read that Allen Ginsberg poem before you go if that helps.

A practical one: when an item doesn't scan at the register don't say "It must be free." The cashier has heard that joke a dozen times already that day.

make sure you try and check the price per lb/unit/etc if comparing different brands of the same product! i had a friend who never looked at that

I was going to add a few but they are already up there(let me second the "Misfits" fruits/veg they have at Hannaford--admirable way to cut down on food waste and get good produce deals) ..damn we Capital District folk love our grocery stores!
Use a grocery list app on your phone--there are many to choose from it beats the piece of paper you might forget at home...

Always bring a shopping list when you go to the market. It helps you stay on budget.

I always write my list in order of the store layout. It makes shopping much faster and easier!

Pricechopper honors Honest Weight and Shoprite $$$ off coupons.

Hannaford's "misfit" produce is a great deal!

If it's possible for you- walk to the grocery store. It really makes you think carefully about how much you're buying. Always start in fresh produce.

meal planning! It's nothing new, but it helps me not impulse buy take out. If you haven't tried the website budget bytes, try it now! Tasty dishes and great values.

Always check your fridge and make a grocery list before heading to the supermarket.

Look for the buy one get one deals from Market 32. Stock up!

Coupon stacking! Make sure you look for coupons in the paper, online, and then Ibotta for in-app rebates!

Go shopping after you have eaten. The goodies are less tempting.

Look for the yellow "Managers Special" signs at Hannaford in the fish and Butcher departments! Often items they have over stocked and will offer at great prices.

Be nice to those behind the counter. They don't get paid much. If you say something nice, something genuine, it'll brighten their day. After all, why not?

Just go to Trader Joe's- best selection of healthy, different items. And affordable for staples. We love it there.

Go at night! The stores are empty and I've already eaten dinner so I'm not hungry. And stick to the list!

Help bag your groceries! Don't just stare...

“keep moving and get out of the way”

Packages of sliced muenster and provolone cheeses in the dairy aisle at Price Chopper are usually cheaper by the pound than at the deli counter. Just look for the store brand.

Make a list and stick to it. Even better if you have one of those "We are Out Of..." Note pads that breaks down the grocery list into sections so you know right off the bat what aisles you can skip.

Don't overlook the super discount bins advertising high discounts on certain items. I just found some really good Green Mountain coffee in a 75%-off bin, that was mixed with some "out-of-season" stuff.

Shop outside of the asiles.
Many sales items and fresh produce/ veggies do not live in the asiles!

Best prices for basic organic foods at Aldi's and Trader Joe's. Plus, the seasonal items at Aldi's are awesome!

Each trip, or at least once a month, buy and try one food item you've never had before.

Arrange your groceries on the conveyor belt the same way you'd like to pack them into your bags: heavier, non-refrigerated items first, followed by lighter items to avoid crushing things. Pack produce and other refrigerated items together to make unpacking (which I hate) much quicker.

Don't forget to ask for a rain check coupon on sale items that the store has run out of!

Don't use a cart or a basket while grocery shopping. This will force you only to pick up the things you need and not what you want. This trick saves me $ as it forces me to buy no more than $20-30 in groceries at a time.

Don't use a cart or basket to hold your groceries. Carry them yourself. It forces you to not buy unnecessary things and saves you money.

Always look at the price-per-unit cost, not just the retail price of something. An item may be on sale, but still might be more expensive per unit than other brands.

I go to multiple grocery stores for the best deals. Sunday morning I spend searching through the flyers for the best deals and make a list for each store.

Whole foods and a butcher are the only places I will buy meat. Shop Rite usually has the best deals on everything else I am looking for.

Try to group items that you put on the checkout counter the way you'd like them packed together. Put all your dairy together, meat together, etc. It saves time when unpacking at home too, wondering where in the heck the cheese got to ...

Start by creating your list for meals and food then go to Aldi and buy as much as you can there, then with rest of list hit a full grocery store like Hannaford or Price Chopper, saves us like $50 a month.

Among other things...buy your olive oil at Trader Joes. It's good AND cheap.

visit trader joes early.

When shopping on a budget make sure you look at all the products available. Stores tend to put the pricier items at eye level.

Scan the fliers for the week. Price chopper likes to advertise sale prices but those always very so just make a mental note of their best 'sale price'. And make lists!

Plan meals for the week ahead of time so you only have to go shopping once.

Spend a certain amount at Shoprite before the holidays and get a free turkey!

Shop on weekdays - more likely to get some good sales vs Friday/Sat/Sun nights. Price chopper in particular seems to have more of their gas bonus items on slower days.

Make a menu, make a list and hit up Aldi first.

The Honest Weight co-op often has some great coupons in the Times Union!

dont forget to bring a towel

I generally shop the same 2 stores, so I'm very familiar with their layout. I write my shopping list according to the layout of the store- no backtracking, no criss-crossing...done with the weekly shopping in 30 minutes.

Don't shop hungry. Shop early to avoid crowds.

stick to the outside of the store - all the best stuff is there

For single people, it doesn't always save to buy a large size (cheaper per ounce) if some of it is going to end up spoiling. Buy poultry or meats when on sale and wrap them in individual portions for the freezer right after you get home from the store. Then you can move, say, one chicken cutlet from the freezer to the fridge in the morning, and it will be defrosted and ready to be cooked that night. If you have any doubt you'll get confused about what is what, stick a piece of paper with the item written on it in each freezer bag. Unless you are a bread fiend, put most of a loaf of sliced bread right into the freezer right away split into several baggies, leaving only a few slices out. They'll be better toasted than moldy later.

For produce, try not to buy more than you will realistically eat before it wilts/spoils/ages beyond tasting good. I often think I will eat salad every night for a week but, of course, don't. Learn what keeps and what doesn't!

Check out the produce room at honest weight for culled items. Often there are items that don't look good enough to go out on the floor, but are perfectly fine and FREE.

Make a list after reviewing ads but be flexible if you see bargains.

Plan ahead a little bit! I always plan my meals around sales and stuff. Otherwise I'd buy all kinds of random things.

If you aren't much for cooking, prepared salads at Trader Joes are healthy and honestly much cheaper then buying the individual ingredients to make them at home. Time and money saver!

Buy spices from the local Indian market rather than in the teeny tiny glass jars in the baking aisle at the grocery store. The price difference is astounding.
And while you're there you can usually grab stuff you'd have to go to a British import store to find like Digestive Biscuits, but for a fraction of the cost.

My rule of thumb is this:

Stick to the outside of your typical grocery store.

By doing this, you are forced to fill your cart with more vegetables, whole dairy products, meats and seafood. There are less impulse buys on the outside of the grocery store and less "fake" and processed foods as well. This helps me keep my diet mostly clean, healthy and fulfilling.

If you go at a peak time, be so careful in the parking lot. That means drive slow, keep your head on swivel, walk to the side, and always be mindful of cars pulling out of spots.

Hit Aldi!

I buy all my produce from Aldi's because they have good quality and even organic with a better price then competitors.

I build a cart over a long period of time through the ShopRite at home portal. This allows me to stock up on non perishables, and ensure that I am actually getting all the ingredients I need versus forgetting some when in store. Once I have exhausted my inventory at home, I pull the trigger and pick up a new pantry's worth of food. For fresh fruit, vegetables, and proteins, I traditionally go to the the farmers market, co-op, or pick up a weekly farm share. If you have these grand ideas about what to cook for dinner, normally a quick stop in the the produce section at the co op allows you to put together a wonderful meal.

Shop early in the morning or late at night to avoid crowds.. and leave the husband and children at home!

Don't get in the way.

Be aware of your surroundings and fellow shoppers. If you aren't grabbing something off a shelf or evaluating a product choice, and you're not moving, you're probably in someone's way.

Price Chopper will take all competitor coupons as long as they have a bar code on them.

I like to get spices at the Honest Weight Food Coop. The ability to buy as much or as little as you need from their bulk food section is great--particularly when you are trying a new recipe that calls for a spice you don't typically use.

Use a shopping list so you buy all the items you need, but only the items you need.

Organize your list by supermarket aisle for efficiency.

Be polite to other shoppers.

Trader Joe's will let you sample anything in the store, just ask first ! Great way to find some new favorites!

Trader Joe's will let you sample anything in the store, just ask first ! Great way to find some new favorites!

Price per ___ is the way to comparison shop. Your time is a limited resource and should be considered along with $$ when picking a place or places to shop.

Meat in Walmart: never.

Trader Joe's has great frozen foods

There is always some semblance of a list going on my phone, so when kitchen staples run out they immediately get added. Sales and coupons can certainly dictate what to buy; this time of year I always check budgetbytes.com for crockpot recipes - something comforting about having leftovers and freezables.

Also, yes to reusable shopping bags!

I briefly tried grocery shopping at Walmart in East Greenbush until I couldn't stand it any more. There are only ever about 3 lanes open and they don't have any sort of self check-out, plus the fresh food is generally not as good. I'm not sure if I actually ended up saving any money, either.

After my stint at Walmart, I gave Price Chopper a try and had issues with their lines as well. Often, PC also made me bag my own groceries. That's unheard of in the Midwest, where I am from. PC's Mexican section also left a bit to be desired.

Finally, I tried Hannaford, and I haven't looked back! There are always many lanes open, the lines are short, and they bag my groceries for me! Plus the variety of food in the store is great. I recommend going on week days right after getting out of work! I also dig that Hannaford puts items on sale without making you swipe a rewards card to get the savings.

To save money I always make a list and stick to it.

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