‘I’m a Supermarket Manager, and This Is How To Get the Best Shopping Deals at the Grocery Store’

Photo: Stocksy/ Lauren Lee
It happens to the best of us: You haven’t had lunch yet, you’re strolling through the grocery aisles, and you're ferociously adding a mountain of items to your cart because everything is making your mouth water (and your stomach rumble). Next thing you know, you’re at the checkout line, and the bill racks up into the hundreds as your cart empties. Not again.

As much as we try to limit our weekly grocery allowance, it can be challenging to consistently stay on budget—especially when food prices rise (hi, eggs). Thankfully, overspending at the grocery store isn’t a lost cause. We caught up with Kate Hensley Luna, the store team leader of Whole Foods Market in Bozeman (which is the first-ever WFM location in Montana, opening this February). Luna has over a decade of experience working in the supermarket industry and shared with Well+Good the best tips for getting the best deals and saving money at the grocery store from here on out. Cha-ching, fam.

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5 tips for getting the best deals at the grocery store, according to a supermarket manager

1. Shop the private label of a grocery store

According to Luna, one of the best ways to unlock great deals is by shopping the retailer's private label, which is essentially the company’s own "brand” of products. “Shopping private label, like our value brand 365 by Whole Foods Market, opens you up to thousands of products under the label at a great quality,” Luna says.

Whether at Whole Foods or elsewhere, private label brands generally offer all of your essentials—pantry staples, snacks, meat, seafood, and frozen items—but at a reduced price compared to name brands. “The best part is that all of these items meet our high-quality standards that all of our products must adhere to,” Luna says. Great quality at a reduced cost? It’s a win-win.

2. Plan your shopping spree ahead of time

To avoid overspending, Luna recommends always going to the grocery store with a plan of action. “Plan your shopping trip beforehand and try to build your meals around sales. You can view weekly deals and sales on our website or sign up for our weekly newsletter,” she says. This is especially helpful if you’re meal-prepping for the week or feeding a large crowd. Plus, it’s one of the best ways to not overspend on bigger-ticket items like meat and seafood.

Luna also recommends speaking with your supermarket's knowledgeable team members that work behind the seafood and meat counters, as they can also offer helpful suggestions for what to make for dinner based on what's on sale. Not to mention the fact that they’re available to do some of the prep work for you, too. “Our fishmongers and butchers offer many helpful services on the house. Fishmongers can debone, devein, and filet; butchers will cut to order. I know customers who have them cut up chicken breasts into cubes to save them the prep and extra cost of buying pre-packaged chicken nuggets,” Luna says. (Genius.)

3. Shop what’s in season whenever possible

We’ve previously learned that eating with the seasons can be a great way to get the most nutrients from most foods. But according to Luna, it’s also a great way to score excellent deals. “Shopping produce that’s in-season is a personal go-to, not only because everything tastes so great at the peak of the season, but also because produce tends to be at its best value—and go on promotion or on sale more frequently—when it’s the most bountiful,” Luna says.

4. Look for in-store promotions and get the most out of loyalty programs

If you didn’t get a chance to check out the weekly deals before you make an unplanned visit to the store, you can always scope out what’s on sale once you’re there. One way to do so is by reading the signage and special promo banners around the store and scanning your loyalty membership cards that automatically apply the promos available to customers at checkout. “If you’re a Prime Member shopping at Whole Foods, for instance, you can scan your membership at checkout. Every item on sale in our stores is an extra 10 percent off the sale price for Prime Members. Look for the yellow tags all over the store to identify what’s on sale. You’ll be able to see both the sale price and the Prime Member price,” Luna says.

5. Only purchase what you really need

According to Luna, grocery team members can also help you purchase only what you really need by customizing quantities for most non-packaged goods, like produce and cheeses. “Cutting down a product to just what you need can save a lot of money. Whether you can’t find a small enough block of cheese at the specialty counter, or you only need half a cabbage instead of a whole, you can ask a produce and specialty team members to cut down exactly what you need so you can save when buying by the pound,” Luna says. This also applies to the bulk section, where you’ll find items like bulk spices and beans that you can control exactly how much you want to buy.

An RD explains how to navigate the supermarket:

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