Photo Credit: Roma Studio/Dreamstime

You go into the grocery store for one item and leave with a bag full of stuff you don’t need. Sound familiar? Store layouts are set up to get you to stay longer and buy more without even realizing it. Ever wonder why the milk is at the back of the store?

We’re here to let you in on the dirty little secrets that supermarkets don’t want you to know. Plus share our proven strategies for saving money and helping you be a smarter shopper.

1. List are essential

Grab a scrap piece of paper and start a shopping list at the beginning of each week to keep track of the items you need. Each time you run out of something add it to the list. That way when you get to the store you’ll be more likely to stick to the list and less likely to impulse buy.

2. Eat before you go to the store

If you eat before you go you’re more likely to only buy items you need and stay within your budget. Plus you can work off some calories.

3. Shopping carts are dirty

Always grab a wipe when you go into the grocery store and wipe off the cart. If the store you shop at does not provide them then keep a package in your purse. Millions of people have used that same cart and who knows what germs and bacteria are lurking around. Example we wiped off the inside of a cart and the wipe turned brown. Gross.

4. Carts have gotten bigger

Shopping carts have gotten bigger over the past few decades. A bigger cart means you have to buy more groceries to fill it up. So grab a smaller shopping cart.

5. The 10 for $10 promotion

We’ve all seen the ten items for $10 sale at the store. Did you know that you don’t have to buy ten items? You can buy only one and still get the sale price.

Also, you might not be saving anything since that can of green beans might have been $80 cents and they changed the price to $1. So you actually end up paying more.

6. Stock up on seasonal items while they’re on sale

Stuffing always goes on sale at the holidays and can be used throughout the year. We know that tomatoes go on sale every summer. So why not can tomatoes? After all it’s about saving money.

7. Get clipping

Coupons can save a family tons of money each year. You can even ditch the scissors and find coupons using your cell phone. Who doesn’t love double coupons?

8. Always check the expiration date

The secret the grocery store doesn’t want you to know is they put the oldest items in front so they’ll sell first. You have to reach to the back of the shelf and look at the expiration dates to get the freshest products.

9. What’s going on with the milk?

Have you ever wondered why they place the milk at the back of the store? So you will have to walk through the store and hopefully buy a bunch of groceries that you had not planned on buying.

10. Let’s talk about cheese

That cheese you buy in the deli is about half the price in the dairy section and it’s the same stuff.

11. Shop on Monday

If you want fresh meat you should plan on waiting until Monday to go shopping. Grocery stores put fresh meat out at the beginning on the week.

12. The wrong day of the week to shop

I’ve seen this happen on Sundays but never on a weekday. You go into the store and the one pound meat is set to expire that day but they’re selling bulk packages with a fresher expiration date hoping you will buy the larger packages that cost more.

13. The truth about why they spray the produce

You might think that spraying fruits and vegetables keep them fresh but that could not be farther from the truth. The mist actually makes them spoil faster.

Spraying replaces the moisture that was lost and adds weight to the produce which when weighed adds to the price.

14. Can you see the germs on the fruits and vegetables?

As you pick up a plum to see if it’s rip do you ever wonder how many people have handled it before you?

15. Order ahead from the bakery

When buying backed goods always order ahead of time. Either stop in or call the bakery at least a day ahead of time to get fresh cupcakes. Trust me you don’t know how long that cupcake on the shelf has been sitting there. A store employee told me the cupcakes on the shelf are never fresh.

16. The checkout lane trap

Candy racks are placed at the checkout lane because they know you might be able to resist the temptation but kids can’t which leaves you with either a headache or a higher grocery bill. Sweets are purposely placed down where little hands can reach them.

17. Watch the cash register

Pay attention at the checkout lane as the cashier is ringing up your groceries and always watch the cash register. If you see a price that is wrong bring it to the cashier’s attention. Example soda was supposed to be on sale three for $10 but rings up $5 each.

18. Look at your receipt

You should always look at your receipt before you leave the store to make sure you received the sale prices for each item. If you find an error report it and get your money back.