It’s a bad idea to go grocery shopping hungry. Some people believe that doing so makes you more likely to deviate from your shopping list. And if you’re hangry, you might do these rude things at the grocery store. That’s why free food samples are such a blessing. Here are the stores with the best free food samples.
The 6 best grocery stores for free food samples
The 6 best grocery stores for free food samples
The warehouse is well known for its awesome free food samples. Costco’s free samples are so great that people aren’t ashamed to go back for seconds. And yes, one Costco free sample employee secret is that they do notice when people come back for another serving—but it’s OK. In fact, Costco’s free samples are unofficially unlimited. The store doesn’t let employees enforce a limit on samples, per anonymous employee and consumer reports. Jenna Coleman, a consumer behavior analyst in the grocery sector and founder of Particular Pantry, says she’s guilty of bringing her kids to Costco on a Friday night and letting them try so many things that it counts as dinner. The people giving out the samples to Coleman and her kids work for Club Demonstrative Services. Other big stores also use similar services, so many free samples don’t come directly from the store.
If you prefer Sam’s Club to Costco, don’t worry—there are still some delicious free food samples at this warehouse store. In fact, a few years ago, Sam’s Club gave away double the free samples until Thanksgiving. The weekends usually have a larger variety of food samples. “On busy days, it’s hard to walk 10 feet without encountering a sample cart,” Kristin McGrath, Editor and Shopping Expert at Offers.com, says. Although most warehouse stores have free samples, there are 6 key differences between Sam’s Club, Costco, and BJ’s.
Trader Joe’s sampling may not be as big-time as the club stores, but something is being sampled every day at pretty much every store. As a bonus, there’s typically no crowds to contend with, according to John Stranger, VP Group Supervisor of the food-focused creative agency EvansHardy+Young. One crew member recommends going to the store towards the end of the night because the team is trying to get rid of more free samples. You’ll have better luck eating more than just a snack-size portion. One of the things Trader Joe’s employees also want you to know is that customers can taste test almost any product that doesn’t need cooking. Let an employee know what you’re up to and limit yourself to sampling one or two products per visit.
Whole Foods has consistently excellent free food samples. This is great for shoppers because they have such tasty, high-quality foods, according to McGrath. Some stores even have free sampling events on certain days, often weekends. Plus, at the pre-made food counter, employees are usually pretty good about giving you a little sample cup of potato or pasta salad if you ask, McGrath adds. Much like the other stores that give out fantastic food samples, Whole Foods invites vendors to come to Whole Foods and actively do free samples. This means it’s not necessarily Whole Foods pushing the products. As a bonus, one of the best kept Whole Foods employee secrets is the policy allowing customers to try or sample almost any product before buying it.
Walmart doesn’t give free food samples as often as Costco. The store does, however, host special in-store weekend events with free food samples. These vary by location, so search for your local Walmart store and click the news and events page for more information. Sometimes, Walmart gives out free samples for special holidays and events like Mother’s Day or back-to-school season. The samples are usually part of a product demonstration with sampling stations set up throughout the store. You’re probably also not aware of these services you didn’t know you could get at Walmart.
Smaller chains and local grocery stores
Not all grocery stores have traditional food sample stands set up, but most provide samples upon request or for kids to eat during your shopping trip. “I was recently offered a sample of roast beef as I ordered meat from the deli counter at HEB, and my kids always used to look forward to the free bananas and beef sticks they received every time we shop at Hy-Vee,” Coleman says. Don’t forget the good old deli counter at your local supermarket, Stranger adds. “If there’s a cheese or cold cut you want to try, most everyone will give you a sample.”
Other free sampling advice
No matter your grocery store of choice, to taste a wide variety of free food samples, McGrath recommends visiting stores after work or on weekends. Savor as many samples as you want, but don’t go overboard with taking samples home. “Resist the urge, finish your shopping, and then think about whether you really need or want that energy drink, granola, salsa, or cheese spread,” McGrath says. Always ask about coupons and take a break before you automatically toss that product into your shopping cart. There are even as many as 14 major brands that will actually send you coupons for free.
Did you see a coupon from a competitor instead of Publix? Bring that coupon with you! Publix posts a list of competitors at each store, allowing you to bring in a coupon you saw elsewhere and get that same deal right at Publix.
Double coupon policy at Wegmans
Speaking of coupons, Wegmans offers a stellar deal with their double coupon policy. If you saw a coupon from a manufacturer that was less than $0.99 in value, Wegmans will not only give you that coupon but will also reward you with another $0.99 off. If the price is above $1, they will still give you the coupon’s face-value deal. Don't miss these 19 shopping tricks all frugal shoppers use.
Return policy at Trader Joe's
Hated the recent flavor of Joe Joes? Just return them! That’s right, even after trying something, you can actually return it if you found it unbearable. Trader Joe’s will happily take it back and give you a refund.
Combos Locos deals at H-E-B
Do you get coupons for H-E-B? If not, well, you should. H-E-B offers a coupon deal called Combos Locos where, when buying two items together, you get discounted prices. For example, a deal could include a bag of salad with a free bottle of dressing! Keep an eye out for deals on their website. Here are more sneaky ways to find great deals online.
Bargain bins at Aldi
Nope, these bargain bins actually aren’t a rip off (like some bargain bins turn out to be). You are going to want to take advantage of the incredible deals at Aldi’s bargain bin because the low prices will actually knock your socks off.
B1G1 and B2G3 sales at Harris Teeter
Buy-one-get-one deals, or even buy-two-get-three deals, are always a draw for people trying to buy bulk at a grocery store, But what make’s Harris Teeter special is the secret behind those deals. Instead of offering one item full price and another completely free, the items just ring up as half off. So if you only need one pound of meat and don’t have room in your freezer for another, that meat will still ring up as 50 percent off! Plus, try making these healthy food swaps that can actually save you money.
Fuel Saver + Perks program at Hy-Vee
Loved the fuel saver program through Hy-Vee? Well, their new-and-improved program is going to have you jumping out of your seat. With this new membership, you can save big using digital deals and coupons target specifically for your shopping list, receive surprise savings, and even get the chance to win rewards! Some of those include kitchen makeovers, vacation packages and even a new car.
The back of the store at Costco
That’s right—the back of the store is where you’re going to find all of the deals. By working your way forward, you are finding the best bang for your buck. Make sure to walk through “center court” (the savings aisles in the center of the store) and to avoid the front at all costs. The front is known as “action alley” and will rarely give you the type of deals that you crave. Check out these money-saving things you can do at Costco without a membership.
The jobs at WinCo
Not only are WinCo deals even cheaper than Walmart most of the time, they also offer incredible employee benefits. Like being a part-owner of the store, for example. If you work at WinCo for over 500 hours in the first six months and 1,000 hours in a year, you are eligible for the Employee Stock Ownership program. They also offer incredible benefits including retirement savings and insurance.
The app from Whole Foods
Whole Foods may sit more on the expensive side, but their app can actually help you save those dollar bills. It’s completely free and loaded with coupons and current deals, giving you a leg up on what to grab in the grocery store.
Free Item Fridays at Fry's and Kroger
Because Fry’s is a Kroger brand, these two offer the same incredible deal every week—free item Fridays! Find out what you can get for free by downloading the coupon the day before heading to the grocery store.
Meal deals at Winn Dixie
Every week Winn Dixie offers meal deals where they hand you not one, not two, but three items for free. The meal deal typically comes with a specifically chosen entree. Once you get the entree, you can get the chosen sides (typically a carbohydrate, a vegetable, and a dessert) for free.
Tuesdays at Target
You may not realize it, but most department stores work off a markdown schedule in certain departments each day of the week. Although every store is different, shopping at Target’s Market (the grocery part of the store) is best for savings on Tuesday. However, there is no harm in asking a sales associate when your local Target’s specific markdown schedule is. Here are more sneaky ways to save money at Target.
Super Coupons at ShopRite
If you still love to get coupons mailed to your home, then you better be digging for those ShopRite super coupons. These coupons will offer you deals you probably couldn’t even dream about and will make your wallet sing songs of praise. You can also check out a lot of their other coupon deals online at their Digital Coupon Center.
The MVP kiosk at Food Lion
After signing up for the MVP Program at Food Lion, you’ll want to take advantage of their kiosk ASAP. Simply scan your MVP card when you’re in the store to see what deals are going on for that day, and even a set of personalized coupons based on your recent purchases. But be on the lookout for these 32 retail scams that trick you into spending more.
SimpleNutrition tags at Albertsons
Just like their Everyday Low Prices and Club Card Savings, Albertsons offers deals on their healthy products by using their SimpleNutrition tags. So instead of ignoring those healthier foods because of the prices, scout Albertsons for these tags to save big and eat healthily.
Free item codes at Meijer
Every now and then, Meijer will post codes on their Facebook and Twitter for mPerk members to get free items. They offer all sorts of items for free, and if you follow them on social media, you’ll always come across some incredible deals. Make sure you memorize the best times to buy cheap finds throughout the year.
Cash back at Sam's Club
That’s right—they just hand it to you! For every $500 you spend, you get $10 back. That may not seem like a lot, but if you’re a faithful Sam’s Club shopper, that can seriously add up as the year progresses. Don't miss these other surprisingly simple ways to save big at the supermarket.
SavingStar at Stop & Shop
If you have a Stop & Shop card (or a Giant card, since they are owned by the same company) you can actually earn cash back when using some of the offers. Just click the offers you want to use on the app.
The price match policy at Walmart
Saw a cheaper price somewhere else? Bring those ads with you to Walmart! You can get the cheaper deal by showing the associate that pricing, who can then walk you through a process to get that same deal right at the store. Wherever you shop, just make sure you avoid these 50 supermarket tricks you still fall for.