IMPORTANT grocery shopping tip to save you money

Here's some food for thought:

To my dismay, when I go to the grocery store, I often see people grab products nearest them -- the ones placed at the very front of each shelf -- without thinking twice about it. Whether due to laziness or just plain ignorance, they are putting in their carts items that are potentially nearing expiration.

Grocery chains follow the "first in, first out rule." They obviously want to get rid of older inventory first, so they make those more prominent so that consumers are more likely to get them. Newer goods, on the other hand, are placed toward the back of the shelf. Many people arrange their items similarly at home so that they lessen the chances of items going bad.

You can probably guess where I'm going with this. As consumers, we want the most bang for our buck, and that means buying the freshest items with the longest shelf lives.

Whether you're buying milk, bread, or other perishable foods, you'll want to reach for items toward the back. Just recently, I traipsed to the dairy aisle and compared the expiration dates for the gallons of milk in the front to those in the back. It wasn't even close: The ones toward the back were set to expire roughly a week later.

This strategy will not only save you time, but money. You won't have to take as many trips to the grocery store, and with longer-lasting items, you won't have to shell out as much of your hard-earned cash. What's more, you're less likely to consume something that may be stale or, worse, rotten.

Take it from me -- I studied marketing and work in the field. Grocery chains are poised to do everything they can to save money, even if it means putting shoppers in a position to snag not-so-fresh products.

So the next time you're in the grocery store, be sure to heed this valuable tip. I assure you that you'll leave and return a much happier customer.

Do you always check the expiration dates listed on items in the grocery store, or do you automatically grab the ones placed in the front?

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