15 THINGS YOU CAN GET FOR FREE

15 Awesome Things You Can Get for Free at the Supermarket

By: A. Santiago

1. Free childcare at Kroger chain stores

Most Kroger stores offer an hour of free childcare for kids ages 2 – 6 as you shop. How awesome is that?!

They don’t even need to be potty-trained — the daycare attendant will simply page you if your child needs to go to the restroom. Keep in mind that only 10 kids can be in daycare at a time, so avoid shopping during peak hours if you want to take advantage of this free service.

2. Free grocery pickup at Walmart

Free grocery pick-up at Walmart

Say it’s pouring outside and the kiddos have their grumpy pants on. The last thing you want to do is drag them into a grocery store.

Instead, head to Walmart.com, order the groceries you need, and head to the store at the designated time of your choosing. A Walmart associate will do the shopping for you and will even load your car — all for free. You’ll get the same low prices when you order online as you would in-store.

Kroger and its affiliate stores have a similar service called ClickList, and right now the pickup service fee is waived for your first three orders. Normally pickup orders are $5.

3. Free smash cakes for one-year-olds at Harris Teeter, Albertsons, and Walmart

Free smash cakes for one-year-olds at Harris Teeter, Albertsons, and Walmart

Albertsons and Harris Teeter will give your one-year-old a free smash cake to dig into on his or her birthday as long as you fill out an application ahead of time. Just call a few days before your child’s birthday to order it.

At Walmart, if you order a birthday cake or cupcakes worth over $15 for your little one, they’ll also give you a matching smash cake free of charge.

4. Free snacks for kids at Kroger, Publix, Harris Teeter, and Whole Foods

Free snacks for kids at Kroger, Publix, Harris Teeter, and Whole Foods

Ease their hunger pangs with a piece of fresh fruit found in a bin located in the produce section at stores like Whole Foods and Kroger.

Or, head to the bakery at WinCo, Publix, and Harris Teeter where kids (and yes, even adults) can get a free cookie.

5. Free baby stuff at Target

Free baby stuff at Target

If you’re a new mom or are expecting a baby, create a baby registry at Target.com. Once you’re done, head to a Target store and pick up a bag full of baby freebies worth around $60. You’ll also get a 15% off completion discount on any remaining items left in your registry that baby shower guests didn’t buy.

6. Free wine chilling at Fred Meyer

Headed to a party and don’t want to bring a bottle of warm white wine? Problem solved when you shop at a Fred Meyer or other Kroger-affiliate stores.

In the wine section you’ll find icy water churning in a tub. Set your bottle of wine in there, finish the rest of your shopping, and pick it up before heading to checkout for chilled wine ready to serve.

7. Free products on Fridays at Kroger stores

Free products on Fridays at Kroger stores

On Fridays, Kroger stores offer a digital free-item coupon that can be added to your loyalty card and redeemed within two weeks. In the recent past, Free Friday Download coupons have been good for bread, yogurt, pet food, candy, and more.

8. Free knife sharpening at Schunucks, Raley’s, and Festival Foods

Free knife sharpening at Schunucks, Raley's, and Festival Foods

Ask your store’s butcher if you can get your knives sharpened for free. Most Schnucks, some Raley’s stores, and Wisconsin-based Festival Foods offer free knife sharpening for their customers and will even provide protection sleeves.

RELATED: 6 Things You Can Do at Costco Without a Membership

9. Free meat and seafood seasoning, marinating, and trimming at Whole Foods, Albertsons, Publix, and Harris Teeter

Free meat and seafood seasoning, marinating, and trimming at Whole Foods, Albertsons, Publix, and Harris Teeter

Many grocery-store meat counters (not just the ones listed above) will readily season, marinate, and trim your meat and seafood for you without charge as long as they aren’t busy. So if you need a special cut or want your meat marinating ASAP for tonight’s dinner, go ahead and ask!

10. Free Wi-Fi at Target, Harris Teeter, and Kroger

Free Wi-Fi at Target, Harris Teeter, and Kroger

Connect to the free Wi-Fi at your grocery store so you don’t miss out on any deals that The Krazy Coupon Lady posts in our free app (available on Android and Apple phones)!

Free Wi-FI is especially useful at Target, where you’ll need it to access Cartwheel deals and coupons. You may have to agree to user terms in a Web browser before accessing any apps.

11. Free boxes at WinCo, Safeway, and Walmart

Free boxes at WinCo, Safeway, and Walmart

The key to getting the best free boxes (and those are apple boxes because they’re stronger and have handles) is to call the produce department ahead of time and ask to have them set aside the boxes for you. Choose a busy grocery store with a lot of inventory — like Walmart and WinCo — because they’ll have plenty to give away daily as they restock.

12. Special ordering at Walmart, Publix, and Kroger

Special ordering at Walmart, Publix, and Kroger

Some stores, like Walmart, don’t have enough room on their shelves to carry specific items regularly. Or, sometimes stores won’t keep a stock of certain products like live crabs or Coke in glass bottles because there isn’t a high demand for them. However, plenty of stores will special order items for you if you ask.

13. Free cheese and fruit portioning at Kroger and Whole Foods

Free cheese and fruit portioning at Kroger and Whole Foods

Only need half a melon? Whole Foods will portion out and reprice the exact amount you need. They’ll do the same for cheese and so will Kroger stores — especially since they now own NYC’s famous Murray’s Cheese Shop and have plans to open more artisan cheese kiosks in their stores.

14. Free samples of anything in the store at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods

Free samples of anything in the store at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods

Before you go opening up sealed packages in-store, make sure to ask a store employee at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s first. Both stores encourage shoppers to sample products they’re interested in buying, so don’t hesitate to ask!

15. Free battery installation at Walmart

Free battery installation at Walmart

As long as you buy your car battery at Walmart, you’ll also get free installation.

19 SHOCKING SUPERMARKET SECRETS

19 Shocking Supermarket Secrets That You Need to Know

By: A. Santiago

1. Use dairy codes to know when to buy generic milk.

What’s the difference between name brand and store brand milk besides $1.00 per gallon? Sometimes, nothing.

Every gallon of milk at the supermarket is stamped with a dairy code. Look for two digits, followed by a hyphen, followed by 1-5 more digits. Example pictured: 16-05.

Enter the code at WhereIsMyMilkFrom.com to find the dairy that produced it. Mine came from Meadow Gold Dairy in Boise, Idaho.

Why does this matter? If the dairy code on the store brand gallon matches the code on the name brand, you know for sure the milk came from the same cows. Save a buck and skip the name brand label.

2. Buy spices in the ethnic food section instead of the baking aisle.

Some items in the supermarket exist in two different places, but where to get cheap spices is a cool trick.

Spices placed in the baking aisle are often priced as much as $1.50 more per ounce than those hidden in the Mexican food section, so be sure to check both places before you buy.

Even if you have to buy a couple bags, it’s totally worth the savings!

3. Purchase products by the case to save 10%. Not sure how many are in a case? Check the shelf tag.

They might not want you to know it, but many supermarkets will give you a discount on products if you buy in bulk.

For example; WinCo will give you up to a 5% discount on their bulk foods. All you have to do is pre-order a full case or sack of the item you need.

Whole Foods offers discounts on bulk items as well. You can get up to 10% off if you agree to buy a case. Buying meat? Buy more than three pounds and it’s considered “bulk,” meaning you can save $0.50 per pound.

So next time you’re stocking up on meat, think about asking your supermarket for a bulk purchase discount.

4. Shop membership-only wholesale clubs for free when you have a gift card.

Think you have to have a Costco card to shop at Costco?

Think again.

Simply purchase a gift card for the amount you want to spend, and you can shop at Costco without a membership to your heart’s delight.

5. Read produce PLU stickers to verify organic produce.

Look at the PLU on your fruits and veggies. A four-digit PLU means the produce was grown “traditionally.” A five-digit PLU that begins with a 9 means produce was grown organically.

6. For the freshest dairy, grab from the back of the fridge.

Grocery stores rotate stock so that the oldest is placed in the front, and the newest in the back.

This ensures that the products sell before the “sell by” date. But if you want your milk to last up to five days longer, grab your gallon from the back of the shelf.

7. Garlic bread is actually day-old French bread with garlic spread added to it.

Here’s a little known fact: Unsold loaves of French bread are actually re-purposed and resold the next day as garlic bread.

If you want fresh garlic bread, you may simply take a fresh, hot loaf of French bread to the bakery and request that they slice it and put on the garlic spread. It won’t cost you a penny more!

In fact, most bakeries will slice any loaf just how you want it — all you have to do is ask.

8. Take a reusable bag and save money on your purchase.

Certain stores (like Target) will give you a $0.05 discount if you bring in reusable bags instead of using those obnoxious plastic ones in-store.

Other stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Kroger all offer discounts as well. Plus, you’re saving the environment, one bag at a time!

9. Use colored bread tags to quickly locate the freshest loaf.

Instead of squeezing loaves or searching around for the best-buy date, a faster, easier way to get the best bread is to memorize the bread tag color code for your favorite brand.

Okay, I don’t actually have it memorized, but I have a note on my smartphone which I reference at the store if needed.

Sara Lee doesn’t necessarily run the same colors as Oroweat, but each brand is consistent. They use the different colors so that their reps can quickly turn over new bread and remove old from the store. If you’re shopping on a Thursday and you see red, green and blue tags, you want to grab the red tags for the freshest bread.

10. “Large” eggs are sometimes just as big as “Jumbo” eggs.

Next time you open a carton of eggs, look for more than just cracks! A larger size of egg may appear to be the same size as a “smaller” sized carton. Check the weight if you really want to find the best value. Minimum weight for jumbo-sized eggs is 30 oz. per dozen, while minimum weight for large-sized eggs is 24 oz. per dozen

11. Use the USDA Inspection Directory website to find out if brand-name meat is the same as generic meat, and who makes it.

Many generic products are made by the same companies as name brands. Often, it’s the exact same product that just isn’t as visually “perfect.”

Wondering if your store-brand sausages that cost $1 less were made by the same folks who make the name brand?

There’s one way to tell:

On every package of meat there’s a circular label with an “Establishment Number” that lets the USDA track where products come from in case of a recall.

Plug the establishment number of your meat into the USDA Inspection Directory, and you know exactly where your meat was processed and packaged.

Match the establishment number of the name-brand meat to the establishment number on a store brand product, and you’ve found who actually makes that item.

You’re going to save money if you’re looking for quality and low price. No establishment number in the circle? Your meat was processed and packaged in-store.

12. You don’t have to buy all 10 items in a 10/$10 sale to get the discount.

Want to get the price of that item on sale but don’t need 10 of them?

Supermarkets do this to encourage you to buy more. So you don’t need to buy the number on the sale flyer in order to get that exact same same price.

So go ahead and buy one Snack Pack instead of all 10.

13. Always weigh bagged produce.

Every smart shopper knows to compare the price per pound between loose and bagged produce.

Why? So you can get more than you’re paying for, of course!

Bulk packaged produce is almost always less expensive (up to 50%!) than loose produce.

Bagged produce weight is required by law to show the advertised weight. So to avoid being underweight, a lot of stores will throw in a little extra weight into those bags. So if you weigh your bag, sometimes you can find a bag that gives you a little more produce for your dollar.

Start by comparing the price and quality of individually-priced produce (carrots, apples, potatoes, onions, etc) to the pre-bagged produce. If the bagged version costs less per pound (and it often does), then go that route and stretch your dollar even further by weighing a few bags.

For example, we weighed a 20lb bag of potatoes, and it actually weighed 23lbs. That’s three free pounds of potatoes.

14. Know the signs that meat is going bad so you don’t get fooled by “clearance” prices.

In this picture you can see that the meat above is obviously not as good as the meat below.

Follow me here…if meat was packaged under the watch of federal inspectors, supermarkets can’t change the date. But if the retailers butchered and packaged the meat themselves, they can change the label on a whim. Often they’ll just put another sticker on top of the first one with a new date if the meat still looks good enough to sell.

In fact, 30 states don’t regulate the expiration dates for meat at all.

That means if a package of meat is set to expire but still looks okay, supermarkets are allowed to put a new or “clearance” label on, pushing the expiration date back by days or even up to a week.

In order to outsmart your supermarket butcher, it’s important to know what it looks like when meat goes bad. (We all know what bad meat smells like! But it can take some finesse to tell if it’s bad before you buy.) The most tell-tale sign is a slight change in color.

  • Poultry should be anywhere from a bluish-white to yellow in color when still fresh.
  • Raw pork is a grayish-pink.
  • Ground beef has more variation in color from bright red to purplish-red to even a brownish-red.

If any of your meat turns green or a greenish-brown color, it’s time to chuck the chuck, so to speak. And definitely don’t buy it when it looks like that! No matter the price.

15. Sometimes items are marked on sale when there’s actually no difference in price.

Those big newspaper ads may not actually save you money. The sales are supposed to get you into the store to buy things you don’t need just because you think they’re on sale. It creates a false sense of immediacy.

Make sure you double-check every sale price against the regular price of an item!

16. Know when your generic canned goods are the same as name brands by looking at the address on the packaging.

Most products have the address of the place where they were produced listed on the package. If the generic brand spaghetti noodles are made in the same city with the same zip code as the name brand, then they are most likely produced by the same company.

For example, a lot of canned vegetables, name brand and store brand, are produced in Keene, NH.

17. The best time to find fresh produce is late morning from the bottom of the display.

Fresh produce arrives at most stores every morning, but produce isn’t generally stocked in the wee nighttime hours, because store managers know that customers like to see the produce being stocked.

But the freshest produce is always rotated to the back of the display in order to sell the older food first.

So, if you want the freshest produce, expect to see the produce being stocked around the 10 o’clock hour, and pick produce from the bottom of the display.

18. The more inexpensive items are above or way below eye-level.

Brands pay for “premium” placement on your grocery store shelves (think: eye-level placement).

Kids’ eye-level shelving is typically reserved for the tempting brands that kids all love. Brands are hoping that kids will help them out by asking their parents for these items.

19. Price-match at Walmart with Savings Catcher.

Savings Catcher is inside the Walmart app and compares the prices of items you bought at Walmart with the advertised prices found in the print and online versions of the weekly ads of other major retailers in your area.

If Savings Catcher finds something cheaper, they’ll refund you the difference in the form of a Walmart e-gift card, which you can either print and take into the store or just show the cashier on your app.

 

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