Your grocery store has a lot more to offer than just groceries and household necessities, and if you aren’t taking advantage of these offerings, you could be spending more money than you need to.
Fortunately, we’re here to help you find those cost savings so you can put that money to better use by adding it to your retirement fund, taking that vacation you so desperately need, paying off your credit card debts, or any one of dozens of other things you could better spend it on. (You can see how much your current debts will cost you over your lifetime with this calculator and how they may be affecting your credit by viewing two of your credit scores, updated every 14 days, for free on Credit.com.)
Here are 13 things you might not know most grocery stores will give to you for free.
1. Sharpen Your Knives
Did you know the butcher at your local grocery store will very likely sharpen your knife for you? For free? It’s true. All you have to do is ask. It’s best to do this early in the morning right after the store opens and the meat counter isn’t terribly busy. You can just drop off your knives, do your shopping and pick the knives up on your way out.
Pro tip: Buy some inexpensive plastic knife sheaths to protect your blade edges and yourself during transport.
2. Provide Wi-Fi
A lot of grocery stores these days have free Wi-Fi available, particularly those with cafés, coffee bars or beer and wine service. So, if you’re going to be checking online recipes or comparing prices on your phone while shopping, reduce your data usage by asking for a password (if needed) and connecting to the Wi-Fi.
3. Trim Your Meat
Back to the meat counter we go. If you want that beautiful chuck roast cut into pieces for a stew, you’d like that rack of lamb Frenched, or you want that whole chicken quartered, the butchers are happy to do it for you, though it might take a bit of time (and be sure to check out these butcher secrets for saving money on meat).
4. Chill Your Wine
A lot of higher-end grocery store wine sections now have rapid chillers that can get your bottle of bubbly or rosé chilled to perfection in about 10 minutes. Just make your selection, drop it in the chiller, pick up any other items you’re in need of and bam. Your wine is cold and ready to take to your party, on a picnic or wherever your day takes you.
5. Provide Boxes
If you’re moving and you’ve priced boxes at your nearest packing and moving store, you know those cardboard cubes add up quickly. Check with your store for when they receive shipments of products like toilet paper, paper towels, baby diapers, cereal and other dry goods and ask them to hold some of the boxes for you.
6. Clean Your Fish
If you like buying whole fish but hate scales flying around your kitchen during the cleaning process, ask the grocery store fish monger to hook you up (Get it? Hook? OK, I’ll stop). They’ll even filet the fish for you if that’s your preference, and freshly cut filets are always better than those sitting in the cold case.
7. Provide Doggy Poop Bags
So, this isn’t really a free item or service provided by the store, but if you keep your produce bags after you’ve unloaded your fresh vegetables, you can use those to pick up your dog’s daily business instead of paying for fancy dog-branded bags. Of course, the produce bags don’t decompose the way most of the fancy poop bags do, but at least you’re giving them a second life before tossing them.
8. Arrange Flowers
If your favorite grocer has a flower counter, they also likely have a florist on staff who can prepare arrangements for you. So instead of just grabbing a bunch of flowers, next time you can have the florist arrange a lovely bouquet for you.
9. Provide Free Samples
Ah, weekends at the grocery store. In some places, it’s a veritable buffet as you comb the aisles for provisions. It’s a great opportunity to try new products and also save money, because there’s no way you’re needing lunch after this.
10. Ice Your Cold Items
If you’re buying a lot of cold and refrigerated items, your store might provide ice to keep your purchases from getting too warm, particularly in the summer months. More stores are making this service available, so it could be worth your while to check.
11. Provide Entertainment
In their ongoing effort to improve profit margins, grocery stores, especially higher-end chains, are doing everything everything they can to keep customers in stores longer so they can spend more money. Whole Foods, for example, serves beer, wine and even food in some select stores (not for free) and even offer free live music performances in some locations.
12. Deliver Groceries
Competition has grown fierce in the grocery sector, with more and more people ordering grocery items online or having them delivered through companies like Burpee and Fresh Direct. It’s no wonder more grocery stores are offering delivery, sometimes even for free. Check with your local grocer to see what options they might offer.
13. Special Order Products
Not seeing the item you want? A lot of grocery stores will special order a product for you if their vendors carry it. And if it’s something you plan to buy on a regular basis, they might even consider stocking it as a standard item. It never hurts to ask.
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