13 Mistakes You Could Be Making When Shopping At H-E-B

If you live in Texas or have visited the state before, then you have likely heard of H-E-B. H-E-B's history traces back over a century when the first store was opened in Kerrville, Texas. Today, the company has expanded throughout the state of Texas and into Mexico, operating over 40 locations. 

Whether you're a Texas native and have been a regular customer or are about to move to the state and have never even stepped foot into a H-E-B before, there are several common shopping mistakes you'll want to avoid. Making these mistakes could cause you to miss out on a great deal, spend more money than is necessary, add too much stress to your grocery shopping experience, or cause you to miss out on some of the perks of shopping at H-E-B. Read on to learn how to make the most of your shopping experience at this grocery store.

1. Not checking out the weekly flier before making your list

Making your shopping list before taking some time to flip through H-E-B's weekly flier is a big mistake. The weekly ad is your source of information about the various sales the store is running. By flipping through it before heading to the store, you can make sure that you don't miss out on anything you want. Looking at it before you even start making your shopping list (or your meal plan for the week) is an even better idea. This way, you'll be able to plan around what is on sale. 

After looking through a few different H-E-B weekly fliers, you will notice some common themes. Beyond the standard discounted products, you will also find special DigiDeals, meal deals, buy one (or more) and get one free specials, Combo Locos, and more — all of which will help you save money.

2. Shopping before downloading the H-E-B app

Before you plan your trip to H-E-B, take a few minutes to download the My H-E-B App on your cell phone to streamline and simplify your shopping. You can use it to place curbside or delivery orders, add items from a previous order to a current cart, and even clip digital coupons. Another useful feature of the app is the barcode scanner. When you're shopping in the store, you can scan the items you're adding to your cart to see if there are any available coupons. You can also use the scanner at home to add items that you're running low on to your cart for a curbside or delivery order.

If you've ever spent too much time wandering through different aisles in the grocery store looking for a particular item, then you'll definitely appreciate the app. Open it, search for the product you're trying to find, and click "view store map." This will bring up a map of the store with the aisle or section highlighted to show you precisely where to find what you're looking for.

3. Leaving your coupons at home

Unless you like leaving money on the table, heading to H-E-B without coupons is a huge mistake. H-E-B's coupon policy states that the grocer accepts coupons from several sources. These can include manufacturer coupons sent through the mail or other promotions and online printable offers that are sent via email, social media, and other sources.

Additionally, H-E-B also offers several of its own coupons that are available in the store. These hidden gems are generally yellow and present a last-minute savings bonus. Other coupons issued by the grocer are printed at the register after checkout or sent through the mail to customers. If you have downloaded the app, you can also click digital coupons for instant savings at the register. 

When gathering coupons, just remember that H-E-B does not allow coupon stacking; you can only use one coupon per qualified item. However, you can sometimes piggyback coupons, such as by applying a coupon for a set amount off of a product to one of the buy one get one (or more) deals.

4. Waiting until you get to the register to scan your items

While there is nothing wrong with letting one of the H-E-B cashiers scan your items and check you out, if you're in a hurry, it might not be the fastest solution. Rather than waiting in a long line on a busy day, consider downloading the H-E-B Go app, which allows you to scan items as you shop and add them to a grocery bag. The app will keep a running tally of your order total, and when you've finished you can visit one of the self checkout registers to pay and then be on your way. There is no limit to the number of items you can scan with the app.

If you want to be able to take advantage of the quick checkout at one of the H-E-B Go kiosks, then you'll need to add a credit card to your account. If preferred, you can still wait in line for a cashier, present your order ticket from your phone, and let them check you out at the register. A cashier can also help if you have any items that couldn't be scanned. If you do run into any problems scanning a particular item or items, just separate them in your shopping cart to be added on to your total at the end.

5. Not adding order notes when shopping for curbside pickup

Placing a curbside pickup order can save you a lot of time. Simply shop online or through the app, choose a pickup time, drive to your nearby H-E-B, and announce that you've arrived through the app. Someone will come out and put your groceries right into your car, and then you can get on with everything else you have to do.

However, there is one big downside to curbside pickup: Because someone else is shopping for your groceries for you, they may not always make the same selections that you would. This can be especially true when it comes to selecting produce or meat. We all have our preferences, and your shopper may not know whether you want yellow bananas to eat right away or green bananas that will last a few days longer. Fortunately, H-E-B gives you the option to add order notes before placing your order to ensure that you get precisely what you want.

6. Shopping during a busy time

Just as with any store, if you go at the wrong time, you're going to regret it. With too many people in the store, it can be difficult to navigate the aisles and find what you're looking for. There is also greater potential for the shelves to be picked over, which can lead to additional trips to try to find any out-of-stock items. More shoppers also means longer checkout lines, which nobody wants.

To avoid all of these potential problems, it is important to choose a good time to shop. The store is likely to be less crowded during the early morning hours or later in the evenings. Early morning can be an ideal time to shop because, in addition to fewer crowds, products are typically restocked the night before and readily available. If possible, try to avoid shopping during peak times, such as mid-morning to early afternoon on the weekends or weekday afternoons after work.

7. Forgetting to look out for the Sunday freebies

Who doesn't like free stuff? Missing out on the Sunday freebies from H-E-B is a big mistake. Every Sunday, the grocer offers a special deal that is only available that day. To redeem the Sunday freebie for the week, open up the app, clip the digital coupon for the free item, and rush over to your nearest H-E-B. The coupons are only good until the item sells out, so if you want to try them you will need to get to the store quickly before they are gone.

Most Sunday freebies are store-brand products. Some examples of past promotions include cheese, chocolate-covered almonds, smoked tuna, and dental treats for dogs. The company doesn't announce this promotion in advance, so you'll need to check the app every Sunday to see what is being offered that week.

8. Overlooking the Combo Loco deals

While "buy one, get one" deals (often referred to as BOGO) are commonplace at many grocery stores, you are typically required to buy two of the same item. However, you don't always need two of the same item, so the freebie is likely to end up going to waste.

H-E-B's Combo Loco deals put a fresh spin on a traditional BOGO sale. Rather than having to purchase two of the same item for one of them to be free, the Combo Locos specials allow you to get a separate product for free when you purchase one. The deals often pair products that you would use together, such as deli meat and bread, shredded chicken and refried beans, or pizza sauce and pizza crust. You'll also find some of the more traditional BOGO (or buy two, get one free) sales in the Combo Locos section of the ad.

9. Not trying the flour tortillas

If you are getting ready to embark on one of your first shopping trips to H-E-B, there is one item you'll definitely want to add to your shopping list: tortillas. And, not just any tortillas — the ones made fresh in the store and sold under the H-E-B brand. Because they are made daily, you can be confident that they'll be fresh, soft, and incredibly delicious the next time you're making tacos or burritos.

H-E-B's tortillas have earned quite a reputation. Some stores need as many as three shifts of bakers to make enough to match what will be sold each day. You can purchase the tortillas in packs of 10 or 20, and they might even still be warm when you grab them. There are even several varieties to choose from, including flour, wheat, butter, Southwest, and mitad y mitad (half corn, half flour). Thin pieces of wax paper separate each tortilla to keep them from sticking together, making it easy to grab one at a time.

10. Failing to use a cash back app to maximize your savings

Paying attention to the sales and bringing coupons can help you save money, but did you know that you could be saving even more by downloading a few more apps to your phone? There are several that will reward you with cash back just for buying the groceries that are already on your list.

As you explore the many apps out there, you'll notice that each one works slightly differently. Some, such as Ibotta, list available offers for each retailer, such as H-E-B. You select the offers that you're interested in, purchase the corresponding items in store, and then scan your receipt and the promotional items you bought. The rewards will load to your balance and as they accumulate, you can cash them out with a direct transfer to your bank account or by snagging a free gift card.

Other apps, such as CoinOut, reward you with points for scanning any receipt. While these apps won't allow you to earn as much in rewards, you also don't have to spend any time flipping through the promotions. Once you scan a receipt, points will be added to your account. Once your point balance grows, cash out for a bank transfer or gift card, depending on the specific account you're using.

11. Stressing over dinner when you could just pick up a H-E-B Meal Deal

Planning dinner can be stressful. This can be especially true if you're responsible for feeding more than just yourself. The next time you're stuck in an "I don't know what to make" rut, turn to H-E-B for some help with its special meal deal offer.

The H-E-B meal deals are precisely what they sound like: a great deal on a full meal for a family. When you buy the main course for the week's deal, you receive the side dishes for free. A recent deal gave shoppers the choice of four free items (salad kit, mushrooms, Monster Cookies, or soda) with the purchase of two cauliflower pizzas. Another deal featured vegetables, chips, and salsa for free with the purchase of two bags of fajita meat. So, not only is your meal planning for the night taken care of, but you're also getting a great deal on the ingredients you'll need to make a delicious dinner.

12. Not considering a H-E-B debit or credit card to save more money at the register

If you rely on H-E-B for all — or almost all — of your grocery needs, then now may be the time to consider applying for a H-E-B credit card or debit card. If you're already going to be spending money in the store, you might as well get rewarded for it. With the H-E-B Visa Signature Credit Card, you'll receive 5% cash back for all H-E-B brand purchases. All other purchases will earn 1.5% cash back (this applies to purchasing non H-E-B products or shopping anywhere else).

If you don't want to charge your groceries to a credit card, consider signing up for the H-E-B Debit Card, which allows you to earn 5% cash back on all H-E-B brand products. You can easily add money to your account from your bank or another debit card. The debit card also comes with the option to set up a high-yield savings account, which can earn up to 6% annual percentage yield for a balance up to $2,000.

13. Not trying the free samples

Walking by a free sample is a mistake that you won't want to make on your next H-E-B shopping trip. More than the obvious benefit of giving you some extra energy to power through the store, free samples can also help you find new products.  

If you've ever gambled on a product and purchased it, only to bring it home and discover that you don't actually like it, you know how frustrating — and expensive — it can be. By trying more items in-store, you have the opportunity to discover those you enjoy and are okay to spend money on, and those you can avoid purchasing altogether. As an added bonus, sometimes H-E-B also offers a coupon for the products that are being offered as a sample, so you can really maximize your savings on new foods, or all standbys.