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Modernize Your Grocery Shopping

Grocery Shopping Tips | New Trends | New Ways to Grocery Shop | Money Saving Tips

The face of grocery shopping is changing—and you can benefit big time!

Just a few years ago, the main way to save, shop and get food on your table was pretty straightforward. You made a list, you browsed ads for deals and coupons (maybe you printed off a few online coupons), and you took said list and coupons to the store. Done.

At the store, big bright aisles, carts, and lines and lines of products awaited you. Smart shoppers avoided supermarket tricks (like putting expensive items at eye level) and “shopped the perimeter” for healthy foods.

Truth be told, most of us probably still grocery shop this way or in a manner close to this way. You can still find plenty of coupons online and scan your store ads for deals. Many of them still come in the mail every week, but pretty much every store also has their flyers online touting their latest sales and bargains.

In almost every town, there’s a Stop & Shop, Piggly Wiggly, Pick ‘n Save or some other variation, maybe Kroger, Jewel Osco, or Albertsons. These traditional stores are what we think of when we think “grocery shopping.”

But the face of grocery shopping is changing, rapidly and drastically. In fact, many of us are already starting to forgo brick and mortar stores all together.

We might order delivery right from our phones, based on the meals we’re about to cook. We might go to specialty markets to buy organic foods, local groceries and more, or we might shop in bulk to get better deals and more options.

In the last few years, the way we buy food has experienced a renaissance of sorts. There are many new ways to grocery shop—some you might not have even thought of (and some that are coming your way soon)! Get prepared for the new ways to shop and save on modern groceries.

Grocery Shopping Tips | New Trends | New Ways to Grocery Shop | Money Saving Tips

Specialty Markets

Over the last ten years or so, there’s been a rise in “specialty markets.” Trader Joe’s, Aldi, Fresh Market (and even Whole Foods to some extent) offer their own brands and product lines.

These specialty markets are built similarly to big city grocers, which are often in small spaces with specific product focus (think Italian or Asian grocers, bakeries, and even the corner bodegas in New York). They offer gourmet products and they’re are fun to shop at. They probably don’t offer every brand of cereal or chips, or even brands you’re used to, but they have organic products and specialized items.

Aldi and even Trader Joe’s (note: they’re owned by the same parent company) offer fabulous deals because they focus on their own products. They’re usually in non-traditional spots like strip malls so they don’t have the same overhead as the big and bright grocery stores, so they can pass the savings on to you.

The Superstores

Walmart Supercenter, Super Target—these stores came into the forefront of grocery marketing in the 90s and they’ve stuck. Think one-stop shopping!

Stores like Walmart often offer great deals on products and you can use coupons as well. They even partner with community programs (like Box Tops for Education and Humana Go365) to provide discounts and rebates on partner products like General Mills cereals or Quaker Granola bars.

These stores are helpful if you live in a smaller town or if you just like to do one-stop shopping. The produce selection might not be up to grocery-store level and you might be giving up specialty cheeses, a butcher, fish counter, bakery and wide product selection BUT it’s definitely convenient. Where else can you buy socks, a flashlight, dog food and groceries all at once?

Grocery Shopping Tips | New Trends | New Ways to Grocery Shop | Money Saving Tips

Wholesale Clubs: Costco and Sam’s Club

Also experiencing a huge rise in popularity over the last decade is the “big box” wholesale and bulk buys stores like Costco and Sam’s Club. Costco offers one of the largest selections of organic foods and both stores offer a huge selection of bulk buys.

There are definitely ways to save at wholesale club stores. Everything at these stores comes LARGE, so watch out for packaging that won’t work for your family (like tomato sauce in giant cans). These stores are great for stocking up on pantry items and you can also get amazing deals on things like paper towels, frozen vegetables, soap, coffee and snacks.

While these big box stores don’t work for every purchase, they can help you save when it comes to items you use frequently. Because you have to pay to join, it’s helpful to weigh the cost of your membership in before you make a decision. You can also purchase household items, gas, and even things like tires and electronics from these stores, so membership comes with major savings benefits for big spenders.

Shopping Local: Co-Ops and Farmers Markets

Many consumers are opting for local markets because they see the value in supporting their hometown businesses. There’s been resurgence in farmers markets and co-ops, especially as the culinary world leans toward the “farm-to-table” movement.

Formerly relegated to just “hippies” or summer tourists, local options are now on the weekly stop agenda for many busy moms. The produce you can find from local growers is second-to-none, plus, being able to “try before you buy” and support your hometown businesses just feels good—and it’s good for the community.

Again with co-ops and farmers markets, coupons are usually a moot point. For co-ops, sometimes membership fees apply (and members are often extended savings and special deals as well). You may pay a little more for these specialized items but you’re also getting a great product.

Grocery Shopping Tips | New Trends | New Ways to Grocery Shop | Money Saving Tips

CSAs and Farm Shares

Bounty baskets, farm shares, produce boxes—they’re all part of Community Supported Agriculture or “CSA.” Buyers often pay a few months in advance to join a local farm share. Each week or every other week (typically over the summer), they pick up boxes of high quality produce.

There are several advantages to CSAs. You get great produce that’s often organic, you’re supporting a local farm, and sometimes you’re even invited to participate in events at the farms or within the community. You also learn to try new produce (like rocket arugula, flowering broccoli, or pak choi).

Of course, you don’t get a huge say in WHAT comes in your basket. So if your farm has a bumper crop of zucchini, you might be making a lot of bread and zoodles. Still, it can be fun and convenient and local, seasonal veggies just seem to taste better.

Online Grocery Shopping

The next wave of grocery shopping is online delivery services like AmazonFresh, Peapod and FreshDirect. This option is quickly growing in popularity, mainly (I suspect) because it’s extremely convenient for busy moms.

You often pay a membership fee ($299 in the case of AmazonFresh) or a delivery fee ($10-20/order). While retailers can extend some good deals because they’re forgoing the overhead of the brick and mortar stores, they can also charge a markup because of the convenience factor.

In many cases, traditional coupons don’t apply, but you can find other deals or site-specific sales.

There are other services like Rosie that allow you to order online and then pick up directly from your local grocery store. (You can even specify preferences like green bananas.) Whole Foods and Walmart also offer online ordering and pick up or delivery services, depending on your area. GrubMarket is another app that offers produce delivery from local farms and farmers markets.

Grocery Shopping Tips | New Trends | New Ways to Grocery Shop | Money Saving Tips

Consumer Technology & Grocery Apps

Even if you don’t opt for grocery delivery, there are plenty of technology options to help you up your savings, plan better, and find the best deals wherever you’re shopping. Ibotta is a “cash back” app that gives you rebates on your grocery store purchases. You simply unlock the available rebates and then scan your receipt after you’re done. You can get more back by shopping at preferred and partner retailers like Walmart, Target and Kroger.

Wegmans, Aldi and Whole Foods are just a few of the retailers who offer their own store-specific apps. These apps can give you access to premium deals and help you find in-stock items, navigate the store, and plan your shopping trip. If you’re a frequent shopper at your preferred store, it’s worth it to download their app.
Coupon Sherpa offers printable coupons as well as coupons to online retailers, as does Cellfire. Shopmium is an app that offers rebates and cash back on purchases when customers try new products. With a quick scan, ShopSavvy lets you know if you’re getting the best deal in town (or if another store is offering a better price). Favado also helps you find your rock bottom price when you’re planning your shopping trip.

Are you sick of all those loyalty cards you can never keep track of? Key Ring is an app that stores all the numbers and helps you keep a handle on them (so you aren’t fumbling at the register).

Subscription Boxes

Subscription boxes are booming! People love the idea of getting a little present in the mail each month of new products to try and fun items to check out. While the subscription box industry started out with mainly beauty products, there are now a huge number of services that offer snacks, candy and more.

Chocolate lovers may want to check out the Cocoa Runners box: it’s gourmet and artisan chocolate. (Yum.) You can get farmers market finds from the Farm To People box. Treatsie offers sweets, candy and goodies that arrive at your door each month. The amazing Japan Crate contains totally cool Japanese candies and snacks that come to your house every month. (Your kids will love it.)

Vegan Cuts sells a snack box filled with vegan products, treats and snacks along with coupons each month. graze’s box is based on your feedback, so you’ll get more of what you love each month and a box that’s tailored to you. UrthBox offers a gluten-free option, as well as vegan and diet selections.

Subscription boxes are a great way to check out new products and find some fun snacks and items to try.

Grocery Shopping Tips | New Trends | New Ways to Grocery Shop | Money Saving Tips

Meal Kit Services

If you want to take “food in the mail” to a whole new level AND save time, try meal kits. Services like Blue Apron, HelloFresh and Plated deliver all of the ingredients you need right to your door.

When you sign up for the service, you’re given a bunch options and menus to browse through. You pick whatever looks appealing to you, the number of people to feed, any special meal requirements (many meal kit services cater to dietary preferences like vegetarian or low-carb), and your delivery day, then order.

Your meal shows up with all of the needed ingredients neatly packaged at your door, along with specific cooking instructions. It can be a great way to try new meals, up your cooking repertoire, or have a fun cooking date night with your spouse.

These services are often reasonably priced, but don’t offer discounts and coupons like you would find in the store. Cooking time, skill level and effort can vary, but the instructions are usually user-friendly and specific.

The face of grocery shopping is definitely changing. People can order dinner right from their phones (or even from the subway platform) and have groceries in their kitchen at the push of a button. Amazon Dash literally sends buttons to consumers they can push when a product is up. With services like Alexa and Echo, voice ordering is an option as well. (You might not even need a button.)

Who knows what the future holds, but technology is constantly changing and making our lives more efficient, so the typical trip to the grocery store is becoming less and less typical!

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Have you taken advantage of any of these services, or any not listed here?  We’d love to hear how you’ve modernized the way you get groceries!  Share your tips in the comments below!

Grocery Shopping Tips | New Trends | New Ways to Grocery Shop | Money Saving Tips

10 Comments

  1. April 21 at 12:07PM

    I love the Aldis app! Aldis is my favorite place to shop, although I’d love to hear if anyone orders the meal boxes and what they think of them. I’ve heard about Amazon Fresh and I can’t wait to start ordering more products there.

  2. April 21 at 12:47PM

    Whenever I travel, I head to Walmart and Target because I enjoy one-stop shopping. I’m a girl after convenience and they offer it in spades.

  3. Kate
    April 21 at 04:14PM

    Just started using Amazon Fresh. It was great. I was already a Prime member so it is just a $14.99 month add-on. My local market charges $15 per online order I pick up at the store, so Fresh costs less and is more convenient.

  4. Gail
    April 21 at 04:38PM

    Our local grocery (a chain store) has free delivery for online orders over $100 (not hard to do)! If you want to pick it up, you pull in the drive through and call them and they bring to your car (a $2.95 charge if under $100) or they will still deliver an order until $100 for $4.95. Cannot beat that! Also, I love using Paprika recipe app and you can create a grocery list from there that you can export to your iphone, share that list with hubby!

  5. April 21 at 10:13PM

    Even though there are lots of choices, people tend to be creatures of habit and shop mainly at the same places.

    We had an online grocery delivery service 15 years ago, they had frequent sales and prices just as good as our grocery store. After 2 years or so, they shut down. And there’s been no other similar services started up since.

    We don’t have Amazon Fresh in Canada. We also don’t have the great coupon deals you get in the states. When I visited my aunt in California we’d go grocery shopping and there’d be double or triple values on coupons. I remember buying a bottle of pop that would cost $2 at home for .10¢!

    We don’t have Trader Joe’s in Canada – though I sure wish there was. I’ve seen articles about their great products!

    As for farmer’s markets in the Vancouver, BC area, they’re mostly taken over by crafters. Less than 25% of the vendors are selling local produce, baked goods, or cheese, and lately due to recent government changes, you might see one or 2 wine or spirits vendors.

    I mostly shop at Walmart Superstore when one opened here about 7 years ago. I like the convenience. My produce I usually buy at a local green grocer.

    Good article. Great research on all those different sellers and suppliers.

  6. Karen
    April 22 at 08:59AM

    I have using Ibotta for almost a year off and on and have gotten a good deal of money back. I save it until November when I can cash it in for Christmas shopping! It’s like a little present to myself 🙂 Also the walmart savings catcher is awesome! I do the same thing with it. When you combine the 2 you can really save. Throw in a coupon when you can and I’ve actually made money! I LOVE saving!!

  7. April 22 at 08:33PM

    I love Aldi, not just because of the prices, but because it saves me time to shop there. If I need tomato soup, I pick up tomato soup…I don’t waste time checking different brands, because there aren’t any. We save Trader Joe’s for special treats…like cookie butter! Wegmans is also amazing! I’ve been too chicken to try that new Sams Club app that let’s you check your items out with your phone as you put them in your cart. Then, I guess you just show your digital receipt on the way out? Sounds like the Jetsons…lol!

  8. Sherrie Pruitt
    April 22 at 09:13PM

    I’ve been using the “AnyList” app for a couple of years and I recommend it highly. I have it synced on my iPad and my phone and I can share it with my hubby. I have the premium version so I can take pics of items I buy that can be confusing in the store (i.e., the special cat food or my favorite smoothie mix). I can also assign each item to a particular store and give it a “category ” so items are grouped on my list. The app can be used for other types of lists but I mainly is it for groceries and I avoid my handwritten list sitting on the kitchen counter when I’m at the store.

  9. April 23 at 11:03AM

    Oh my goodness, I didn’t Aldi had an app! I love that place. Also trying out Shop Savvy. Downloading them now. Thanks for these tips!

  10. April 23 at 03:52PM

    I am loving how technology continues to simplify everything in our lives- especially saving money. I use ibotta every week and use paper coupons I ordered from a clipping site to get paid to buy groceries. I love it and I wouldn’t have time to do it if it weren’t for technology.

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