Coupons Aren’t the Only Thing that Can Save You Money at the Grocery Store

Don't pay more for fruits and vegetables than you have to.

Coupons are terrific little tools for dramatically reducing your grocery expenses, but coupons for produce are few and far between, unfortunately, and we buy a fair amount of fruits and veggies. Last night I learned a lesson about the codes used to ring up produce that may save you some money.

I shop primarily at Wegman’s, one of the two major supermarket chains here in Rochester, NY. Several years ago, Wegman’s installed self-serve scales with printers that allow shoppers to bag, weigh, and then label their fresh produce purchases in the produce department. This saves time at the register because the cashier then doesn’t have to look up the code for cauliflower or green grapes, for example.

My kids like weighing and labeling the apples, broccoli, carrots, peaches, and more that we buy, so I usually let them. Well, last night, after picking out several Beefsteak tomatoes, my daughter looked at the code on the tomatoes and typed it in to the scale so she could print out the label. Interestingly, the amount per pound that came up was $.70 more than what was advertised in the tomato bin.

You see, Wegman’s posts little cards near each grouping of fruit or vegetable with the item’s four-digit code on it. Beefsteak tomatoes were $2.29 per pound and the code was 4064. However, my daughter didn’t see the card on the tomato bin and, instead, typed in the code that was affixed to the tomatoes, which was 4779, or something like that. And that code, which also came up as for Beefsteak tomatoes, priced them at $2.99 per pound. So, of course, I had her re-ring them up to get the lower price.

I bring this up because I had no idea that different tags for the same product would have different prices associated with them. If we hadn’t taken the time to weigh and label our tomatoes, the cashier would have used the code on the product to ring them up at the cash register, which would have then overcharged us.

If you’re like me, my suggestion is to check that you’re getting the lowest price for the produce you’re buying by trying any codes posted for the fruits and vegetables in your cart. And then printing out the lowest one. Also, watch as the cashier checks you out to be sure you’re being charged what you expected for your purchases, too.

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