Let's face it -- grocery stores want to make a profit just as much as any other business, and while their profit margins are notoriously low, they can and do have lots of subtle ways to get you to spend cash on their products.
Here's 10 ways to stop yourself from spending more dollars than you should at the supermarket:
1. Never go to the grocery store hungry. If you're parking in their lot and your stomach's growling, then take the 5-10 minutes to chow down on a snack at their little cafe or deli (most of them have these now), or get a yogurt smoothie, cold organic juice, or protein drink and guzzle that down (show the empty container to the cashier at check-out, you're not going to get stopped in the store for drinking the stuff while shopping). Don't roam those aisles on an empty stomach!
2. Shop once a week for perishables, biweekly or monthly for staples. Fresh fruit and veggies need to be replenished more often than toilet paper, but not every trip to the grocery has to be a Major Event. Have a plan for your non-perishables (personal hygiene items, canned goods, etc.) and buy them once or twice a month. Bigger packaging means less cost per ounce, etc. but make sure to check the unit price on the item, don't just assume bigger means cheaper. CostCo and Sam's are great places to buy things like this -- toilet paper, pickles, beans, rice, things like that. Have a weekly run for the stuff that goes bad -- bananas, milk, stuff like you want to eat fresh.
3. Never enter a grocery store without a list. Make a list of what you need -- go thru the house, keep a running list on the fridge. When you're in the store, only buy what is on the list. If you're new to this, trust me -- it gets easier over time.