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You’re a grocery expert. You not only have your own grocery bags, but you know exactly what you want to shop for before you enter the store because you’re a list-making genius. Exercising masterful discipline and efficiency, you’re in and out of the store in 10 minutes flat—partially thanks to the magic of the self-checkout.
And that’s great. But while the convenience of bagging your own groceries gets you out of the store quickly (and helps you go green), it also means you’re losing out on the speed and expertise of an experienced grocery clerk. Here are a few tips for bagging groceries when you’re doing it yourself:
1. Think Like a Grocer
Grocery bags are dirtier than you realize. Raw chicken, dirt from fresh produce, dust from boxes—it all adds up. That’s why you need to think like an experienced grocery clerk when you bag. Don’t cram your wares indiscriminately into the bag. Give it some forethought. A little planning doesn’t only go a long way—it also spares you an unpleasant mess when you finally unload the groceries on your kitchen counter at home.
A package of raw chicken should not make contact with your finger foods. And we shouldn’t have to tell you why. But that doesn’t mean you should avoid making that chicken noodle casserole, either. The first rule of effective bagging is categorization. Separate your raw meats from your bakery goods. Keep toiletries and bathroom items together. This compartmentalization might seem excessive at first, but eventually it will become a habit that makes unpacking your groceries a cinch.
3. Start Heavy, End Small
Go ahead—just try putting a loaf of bread at the bottom of a bag. OK, this is a list of tips for bagging groceries, not ruining them. We don’t really want you to do that. If you start with the light food, the heavy food is inevitably going to crush it to smithereens. Instead, start loading by the heaviest items first.
4. Separate the Delicate Items
Ever hear the phrase “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”? Nonsense. You want your eggs in their own container—and their own container alone. Eggs are a classic “delicate” item, which means you want them separate and protected. Other fragile items—such as a glass vase you picked up at the superstore—should also be packed separately. Now…are you taking eggs out of the carton the right way?
5. Use the Cart If You Have To
When you push yourself beyond your capacity (see below), you start making mistakes. Don’t try strong-arming everything for quickness’s sake. Instead, use the cart—that’s what they’re there for.
6. Don’t Push It
Pushing a bag to its maximum capacity might seem efficient, but it’s not. Instead, it makes carrying your groceries awkward—and even makes spillage a downright inevitability. When it comes to bagging convenience, think smart, not heavy.
7. Wrap Your Meats First
Wrap up your meats in a plastic bag to ensure they don’t leak and spill into your bag—or make unwanted contact with delicate items like fresh produce and vegetables.
8. Reuse When Possible
Re-using your own grocery bag is a great way to go green. But even if you use the self-checkout with plastic bags, store them in the kitchen for later use.
9. Learn From Mistakes
You may not get it right the first time. Or even the second time. But as you bag your own groceries, remember the mistakes you made. You’ll be rewarded with fresh, uncontaminated, properly organized food when you finally make it home.
Competitor coupons at PublixDid you see a coupon from a competitor instead of Publix? Bring that coupon with you! Publix posts a list of competitors at each store, allowing you to bring in a coupon you saw elsewhere and get that same deal right at Publix.
Double coupon policy at WegmansSpeaking of coupons, Wegmans offers a stellar deal with their double coupon policy. If you saw a coupon from a manufacturer that was less than $0.99 in value, Wegmans will not only give you that coupon but will also reward you with another $0.99 off. If the price is above $1, they will still give you the coupon's face-value deal.
Return policy at Trader Joe'sHated the recent flavor of Joe Joe's? Just return them! That's right, even after trying something, you can actually return it if you found it unbearable. Trader Joe's will happily take it back and give you a refund.
Combos Locos deals at H-E-BDo you get coupons for H-E-B? If not, well, you should. H-E-B offers a coupon deal called Combos Locos where, when buying two items together, you get discounted prices. For example, a deal could include a bag of salad with a free bottle of dressing! Keep an eye out for deals on their website.
The Bargain Bins at AldiNope, these bargain bins actually aren't a rip off (like some bargain bins turn out to be). You are going to want to take advantage of the incredible deals at Aldi's bargain bin because the low prices will actually knock your socks off.
B1G1 and B2G3 sales at Harris TeeterBuy-one-get-one deals, or even buy-two-get-three deals, are always a draw for people trying to buy bulk at a grocery store, But what make's Harris Teeter special is the secret behind those deals. Instead of offering one item full price and another completely free, the items just ring up as half off. So if you only need one pound of meat and don't have room in your freezer for another, that meat will still ring up as 50 percent off!
Fuel Saver + Perks program at Hy-VeeLoved the fuel saver program through Hy-Vee? Well, their new-and-improved program is going to have you jumping out of your seat. With this new membership, you can save big using digital deals and coupons target specifically for your shopping list, receive surprise savings, and even get the chance to win rewards! Some of those include kitchen makeovers, vacation packages and even a new car.
The back of the store at CostcoThat's right—the back of the store is where you're going to find all of the deals. By working your way forward, you are finding the best bang for your buck. Make sure to walk through “center court” (the savings aisles in the center of the store) and to avoid the front at all costs. The front is known as "action alley" and will rarely give you the type of deals that you crave.
The jobs at WinCoNot only are WinCo deals even cheaper than Walmart most of the time, they also offer incredible employee benefits. Like being a part-owner of the store, for example. If you work at WinCo for over 500 hours in the first six months and 1,000 hours in a year, you are eligible for the Employee Stock Ownership program. They also offer incredible benefits including retirement savings and insurance.
The app from Whole FoodsWhole Foods may sit more on the expensive side, but their app can actually help you save those dollar bills. It's completely free and loaded with coupons and current deals, giving you a leg up on what to grab in the grocery store.
Free Item Fridays at Fry's and KrogerBecause Fry's is a Kroger brand, these two offer the same incredible deal every week—free item Fridays! Find out what you can get for free by downloading the coupon the day of before heading to the grocery store.
Meal deals at Winn DixieEvery week Winn Dixie offers meal deals where they hand you not one, not two, but threeitems for free. The meal deal typically comes with a specifically chosen entree. Once you get the entree, you can get the chosen sides (typically a carbohydrate, a vegetable and a dessert) for free.
Tuesdays at TargetYou may not realize it, but most department stores work off a markdown schedule in certain departments each day of the week. Although every store is different, shopping at Target's Market (the grocery part of the store) is best for savings on Tuesday. However, there is no harm in asking a sales associate when your local Target's specific markdown schedule is.
Super Coupons at ShopRiteIf you still love to get coupons mailed to your home, then you better be digging for those ShopRite super coupons. These coupons will offer you deals you probably couldn't even dream about and will make your wallet sing songs of praise. You can also check out a lot of their other coupon deals online at their Digital Coupon Center.
The MVP kiosk at Food LionAfter signing up for the MVP Program at Food Lion, you'll want to take advantage of their kiosk ASAP. Simply scan your MVP card when you're in the store to see what deals are going on for that day, and even a set of personalized coupons based on your recent purchases.
SimpleNutrition tags at AlbertsonsJust like their Everyday Low Prices and Club Card Savings, Albertsons offers deals on their healthy products by using their SimpleNutrition tags. So instead of ignoring those healthier foods because of the prices, scout Albertsons for these tags to save big and eat healthily.
Free item codes at MeijerEvery now and then, Meijer will post codes on their Facebook and Twitter for mPerk members to get free items. They offer all sorts of items for free, and if you follow them on social media, you’ll always come across some incredible deals.
Cash back at Sam's ClubThat's right—they just hand it to you! For every $500 you spend, you get $10 back. That may not seem like a lot, but if you’re a faithful Sam’s Club shopper, that can seriously add up as the year progresses.
SavingStar at Stop & ShopIf you have a Stop & Shop card (or a Giant card, since they are owned by the same company) you can actually earn cash back when using some of the offers. Just click the offers you want to use on the app.
The price match policy at WalmartSaw a cheaper price somewhere else? Bring those ads with you to Walmart! You can get the cheaper deal by showing the associate that pricing, who can then walk you through a process to get that same deal right at the store.
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