15 Grocery Shopping Mistakes That Are Wasting Your Money
To combat overspending at the grocery store, check out these mistakes you’re likely making that are putting a real damper on your food budget.
Mistake: Going in unprepared
The layout of every single supermarket, no matter the chain, is laid out with a very specific goal: To tempt shoppers. “When you walk into a supermarket, your goal is to spend as little money as possible,” says Natasha Rachel Smith, consumer affairs expert at TopCashback.com. “Yet the supermarket wants you to spend as much money as it can wring from your wallet.” These apps will revolutionize the way you grocery shop.
Mistake: Forgetting to make a list
Your grocery list is still paramount when it comes to saving money. “Those who go in with a list spend less money overall than those who go in with no plan,” says Jamie Logie, a nutritionist, health and wellness coach, and personal trainer. “Also, keep a list of things you already have at home. This trips people up because you end up buying more of something you already have.” Tip: The more time you spend in a store, the more money you’ll spend. These are the best grocery stores for food samples.
Mistake: Getting tempted by the inner aisles
Instead of doing an aisle-by-aisle stroll, shop the outer perimeter, instead. “Not only is the outer perimeter where the produce and other fresh foods are located, but it’s where you’ll spend less,” Logie says. Tip: As you walk, do your best to avoid the inside aisles stocked with junk food and other products you don’t need.
Mistake: Using a cart instead of a basket
Carts have gotten 40 percent bigger of the last several decades, notes Consumer Reports. “The bigger the cart, the less full it feels and the more compelled you are to fill it with things you likely don’t need,” says Andrea Woroch, a consumer finance expert. “Get in the habit of using a hand basket or one of the smaller shopping carts if those are offered at your grocery store.” Tip: The heavier and more full the basket gets, the more aware you will become of the contents and help you realize there are things you don’t need. Check out the 11 things that drive grocery employees crazy.
Mistake: Falling for 10 for $10
Watch out for “10 for $10” or any variations of this offer. “This is a classic marketing strategy meant to clear out inventory,” Logie says. “For example, a can of tuna may normally cost 79 cents but if it’s a five for $5 sale you’re not saving any money. If it is a real deal but you don’t need all ten just buy the amount you need.” Tip: This goes for produce too: You don’t need to buy a whole bunch of bananas, just break off the number you need as you’re paying by the pound.
Mistake: Shopping the fresh seafood counter
Those fish fillets and shrimp piled atop gleaming piles of ice may look enticing but you’ll be tricked into paying more for fresh seafood. “Seafood has to come into supermarkets frozen so what you see fresh is not any different than the frozen stuff,” Logie says. Tip: Keep in mind that frozen seafood might even be better quality than fresh due to the fact that fishermen are now vacuum sealing and fast-freezing fish immediately after they’re caught.
Mistake: Shopping in bulk
It’s easy to think that you’re getting a better deal when you buy in bulk, but that’s not necessarily so. “Instead, analyze the cost per unit and see if it is worth buying the larger option,” says Smith. Tip: One example is that avocados will be cheaper individually than in a grouped bag. Here are shopping secrets from America’s top grocery stores.
Mistake: Forgetting to do late-in-the-day shopping runs
By shopping at the end of the day you’ll find major discounts on perishable, prepared meals because supermarkets can’t sell them the next day. “Since they are made fresh, the store will discount the item to entice shoppers,” Smith says. Tip: These items include sushi, sandwiches, salads, and bakery items.
Mistake: Skipping the frozen produce
Gone are the days when frozen produce was subpar. In fact, if a recipe calls for a produce item that’s not on sale, you should head right over to the frozen foods aisle. “Produce is flash frozen at peak ripeness, meaning flavor and nutrients remain intact,” Woroch says. Tip: Frozen goods store longer than fresh so stock up on frozen fruits and veggies as soon as they go on sale. Check out why grocers spray mist in the produce aisle.
Mistake: Shopping too often
The fewer your times you go to the grocery store, the fewer chances you have of being tempted to buy food items you don’t need. “Buying on impulse can totally bust your budget so consider reducing the number of times you go to the grocery store to slash those impulse purchases,” Woroch says. Tip: Even if you spend only $10 on impulse buys during twice-weekly trips, going down to once a week will save at least $40 a month.