40 Grocery Store Secrets You Didn’t Know About
From Costco to Aldi, we've got some major grocery store secrets we need to spill. Just don't shop and tell.
Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.
Walmart’s deals might be even better if you use the app
Opting for things like generic vs. name-brand cereals or off-brand Oreos instead of the name-brand cookie is one easy way to save money at Walmart. Another easy way is to download the store’s app. Once you’re in store, you can use the app to scan the barcode on a sale item. When the item is scanned, you’ll see the current price at your local store. Click into the Walmart.com tab, and you likely to see a much lower price tag for the same item. Show this lower price to the associate at checkout, and they will honor the price match against their own website.
Shop on Wednesday for Aldi’s best deals
On Wednesdays, we shop at Aldi. That’s because it’s the best day of the week to find new products. (Psst! Did you know we cover new product updates from all of your favorite grocery stores?) At most Aldi locations, produce goes on sale on Wednesdays, too. Pro tip: Make sure to head there in the morning to beat the crowds.
You can taste test any product at Trader Joe’s
You read that right. You can taste test practically anything in the store before you buy it. Just let a TJ’s employee know what you’re doing before you rip open a bag of Joe-Joes Cookies, and limit your sampling to one or two products per visit. If your store sells wine, that’s fair game, too. The only off-limits items are products that need to be cooked, which means you’ll just have to wait to try their famous Mandarin Orange Chicken at home.
Borrow a quarter for your Aldi shopping cart
Aldi’s shopping carts are definitely unique. True fans know to bring a quarter to use a cart, but if you forget your change, you don’t need to head home. Just ask an employee at the register to borrow a quarter so you can get shopping.
Kroger has nearly 200+ gift cards for sale
Kroger offers digital download coupons for as much as $15 off gift card purchases. Plus, they carry more than 200 gift card varieties—we’re talking everything from Airbnb to Netflix. If you purchase it with a Kroger Loyalty card, you’ll get double points, too. Gift cards should definitely be added to your Kroger must-haves list. Keep an eye out for the occasional 4x reward point campaigns to really maximize your benefits.
Costco sells designer bags
If you don’t associate Costco with luxury, you’ve probably haven’t seen their purse selection. Costco offers bags from designers such as Coach, Kate Spade and Michael Kors—all for special members-only prices. Want more deals? We’ve compiled the best Costco shopping perks you might not realize you can tap into.
Some Great Value items are made by brand name companies
Walmart’s Great Value products are sorely underrated (hello, off-brand Pop-Tarts!). The budget-friendly brand’s great quality shouldn’t come as a surprise, though, as many of its products are made in the same manufacturing plant as Conagra Brands. In fact, Great Value has been recognized as one of our top picks for best pancake mix and best frozen french fries when compared in a blind taste test to its brand-name competitors.
Double Ad Day at Fresh Thyme
On one day each week, Fresh Thyme features a Double Ad Day. This means you can take advantage of both the weekly ad for the coming week and the week about to end. What a great way to save some extra cash. Plan your grocery shopping trips to fall on these days and you can get a discount on almost everything on your list.
Aldi’s chocolate is imported from Europe
If the Aldi Savers Tags aren’t enough of a reason to love shopping here, then maybe the chocolate selection will sway you. Chocolate is one of the things I always buy at Aldi. The German-owned company works with many European suppliers, meaning they also have lots of delicious imported treats—including chocolate and wine.
There are treasures hidden at Trader Joe’s
In some locations, Trader Joe’s employees hide a stuffed animal among the shelves for kids to find. If they spot it, they get a lollipop at checkout (and even if they don’t, TJ’s employees are still pretty generous with giving out treats). You’re likely to find a plastic lobster hidden somewhere in the store, too.
You can go to Costco as a non-member
We all know the easiest trick to shopping as a non-member: shopping with a Costco member. But if you’re still not sure if a Costco membership is worth the time and money, there’s a whole list of ways to shop as a non-member. You can start by using a Costco Cash Card or buying from their website. Looking for more tricks? Here’s everything you need to know about grocery store loss leaders.
You can snag a free Publix sandwich…if you’re nice
This little known fact about Publix is one you’re going to want to note. Most of us thank our cashier and baggers just to be nice, but at Publix, you’ll actually be rewarded for kindness. Any customer that compliments an employee gets a coupon for a free sandwich at the deli. Talk about good karma.
Save $5-10 on tires at Walmart
Buy tires at the same place you pick up a bottle of wine? You bet. If you search around, buying Goodyear tires at Walmart instead of Amazon or discount tire stores can save you $5-10 per tire. One less trip to the store? Count me in.
Costco has a traveling wine buyer
Costco’s wine buyer travels to best-of-the-best wine regions, like Bourdeaux, France, to scout out new wines to sell at your local Costco. So yeah, I don’t think you need much more convincing on why you should start buying your wine at Costco.
Kroger’s Friday freebies
For those who resist downloading yet another app to their phone, the Kroger app is well worth having. For one, every Friday they share a digital coupon for a free item. You can also stay in the loop on Kroger’s website for their Friday freebies if you aren’t willing to give up phone storage space.
Publix can teach you how to cook
Some Publix locations have a small kiosk inside called the Aprons Cooking School. Each day, a different recipe card is stocked for shoppers to pick up as they walk by. A professional chef will demo the cooking techniques needed for making that specific dinner, making it super easy to duplicate any recipe at home. Even better? Every ingredient listed on the card is stocked next to the booth. It’s just one of the many reasons Publix was recognized for having the best customer service in America.
Walmart’s mattresses are a steal
Walmart’s probably not the first place you’d look for a new bed, but hey, that may change. The store launched AllswellHome.com to sell its own brand of affordable mattresses and designer-quality bedding. The queen-sized Allswell mattress is only $449! Mattresses are one of the best-value things to buy from Walmart, among wine, party supplies and camping gear.
Aldi has additional deals on their website
We all know that Aldi’s groceries are affordable, but there are ways you can save even more. Check the Weekly Specials section of their website to find local deals on everything from avocados to cleaning supplies to craft beer. Bonus: learn how to earn a free Aldi gift card!
Costco moves its items on purpose
As many Costco shoppers know, Costco’s stock constantly moves around the store. This treasure hunt means more time scanning the shelves, which makes you more likely to notice (and buy) other items. But hey, I’m not complaining. I wouldn’t have found Tate’s chocolate chip cookies if not for my aimless walks around Costco. While you’re on the hunt, scout out Costco’s best-value items like avocados and birthday cake.
Tuesdays are the best days to grocery shop at Target
Most Target locations follow a regular schedule for marking down clearance items by department. Mondays feature markdowns on electronics, accessories, kids’ clothing, books, baby items and stationery, while Tuesdays offer the best deals on women’s clothing, food and pet supplies. Memorize Target’s markdown schedule and you’ll never miss a deal again.
You can beat the crowds at Sam’s Club
From 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. during the week and 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Saturday, Sam’s Club Plus members have access to early shopping hours. You can have the floor to yourself while you look for some healthy Sam’s Club must-haves.
Each Trader Joe’s has an in-store Donation Coordinator
Even though Trader Joe’s is a national chain, they aim to be present in each community they serve. To do so, they hire a Donation Coordinator for each store to assist with donations for events like silent auctions. It’s one of the things Trader Joe’s employees want you to know.
Walmart has cheaper photo prints than Walgreens
Drugstores may not be the best place for printing photos after all. Walmart charges only $0.12 per 4×6 photo for home delivery and in-store pickup. Whereas competitors can charge around $0.39 per 4×6 photo. Talk about a steal.
You can buy gourmet ingredients from Costco
From fresh caviar to live lobsters to gourmet cheeses, Costco has all of the finer things at your fingertips. Yes, you can feel fancy when you’re shopping for bulk Goldfish.
Publix has a BOGO sale for produce
Publix sales are legendary, especially their buy-one-get-one sales. BOGO items change depending on your location, but we’ve seen deals for products ranging from olive oil to deli meats to pints of ice cream.
Hy-Vee’s catering service helps you celebrate the good times without the hassle. If you’re planning an event, you can order party trays while you’re shopping for your weekly groceries. Oftentimes, it can be tricky to cook for a large group when organizing a party. Now you don’t have to. Bliss.
Kroger can offer nutrition advice
The Kroger Little Clinic offers shoppers personalized nutrition advice in the same place they shop for groceries. Their prices are extremely reasonable: $20 for a 30-minute walk-and-talk session, $40 for a 30-minute personalized nutrition coaching session or $280 for a 90-day weight management program. Want to see if your Kroger store offers these awesome services? Check out their clinic locator.
Costco’s menu options change depending on where you live
Did you know that Costco locations in Canada sell poutine? Canadians swear by it. Depending on where you live in the world, you may be treated to other regional Costco food court favorites, like meat pies in Australia and teriyaki bowls in South Korea.
Walmart has free perks for new parents
Walmart gives out a complimentary baby registry box full of samples. While products can vary, the box usually includes essentials like diapers, formula, lotion, baby bottles and more. All you have to do is sign up to get these great items for free.
Costco offers discounted travel packages
As if there weren’t already enough ways to save money at Costco, the store has its own travel agency. Costco Travel offers everything from inexpensive car rentals to discounted Disneyland packages, which can save you hundreds of dollars. Also, be sure to check out their rotating “$499 and under deals” to snag a great vacation.
Kroger’s vegan section is PETA-approved
PETA has raved about Kroger’s selection of plant-based snacks, dairy-free cheese, vegan burgers. Their favorites ranged from savory mains like MorningStar Farms Buffalo Chik Patties and White Castle’s take on the veggie slider, to snacks including vegan chips and protein bars. Kroger’s sustainability message is also reflected in its Peculiar Picks program which encourages shoppers to buy ugly produce.
Walmart’s pharmacy has a $4 medication plan
No, it isn’t too good to be true. Walmart offers a 30-day supply of generic medication for only $4. But wait, it gets even better. For $10, you can get a 90-day supply. Be sure to check out Walmart’s list to find out what medications are included. (Psst! Did you know Walmart has a pet pharmacy, too?)
Costco adds a secret ingredient to their chicken bakes
Costco’s food court chicken bakes have quite the cult following. But, what’s not to love? Cheese, pizza dough, chicken, mozzarella and green onion is a whole lot of yum. But what makes these pockets so good is a schmear of Caesar dressing. It provides that bit of salt, creaminess and what-is-that?-ness that we love.
Costco makes its own hot dogs
From the ’80s to the mid-2000s, Costco used kosher hot dogs supplied by two separate companies. Seeing prices soar while demand for their food court hot dogs rose, Costco decided to test out its own recipe. In 2009, Costco started producing its 1/4 lb. all-beef hot dog that we know and love, keeping the price at a mear $1.50. Before you go shopping, make sure you know which grocery items have the highest markups.
You can pre-order Costco pizza while you shop
Friday and Saturday nights are prime pizza time. Customers at Costco can expect a 20 to 30-minute wait when ordering a pie—but did you know you can order your pizza before you shop? Head to the food court and place your order, then complete your errand to skip the wait. Or, if you prefer, you can call ahead and place your order over the phone. This Costco food court hack is game-changing.
Follow Fresh Thyme on Instagram for savings
If you plan to shop at Fresh Thyme make sure to follow its official Instagram account. The store posts about sales, new products and special in-store events. They also keep you up to date on special contests and giveaways for prizes like gift cards and exclusive coupons, too.
You can buy engagement rings at Costco
The most expensive engagement ring at Costco will set you back a whopping $349,999.99, and you can’t just walk into the nearest store and buy it. You’ll have to email diamonds@ , first—for what we can only assume is an extreme vetting of your credit history.
Walmart sells refurbished electronics
Electronics can be a little pricey, but at Walmart, you can buy an iPhone for less. Look online for their certified refurbished electronics and you can find a phone, TV or tablet that works like new—but for a much lower price. Refurbished products come with the original accessories and a 90-day warranty.
Save more by going green at Target
Get a five-cent discount for each reusable bag you use at Target. Not only will you feel good about using less plastic, but you’ll save money, too.
Aldi’s offers discounted name brands
If you look up and down the aisles of Aldi, you’re bound to find some name brands on discount. How do they do it? Aldi stocks either discontinued or overstock products. This allows the store to purchase the products at a reduced price and sell it at a lower cost to you.