How to Stop Wasting Money at the Grocery Store

19 Ways You're Wasting Money at the Grocery Store

Are you still spending too much money at the grocery store even with coupons and reading tips on how to save money while shopping? Maybe that's because some of your own shopping habits are making you buy more and spend more. Take a look at our list of bad grocery shopping habits, and get rid of them once and for all!

  1. Not checking what's left in your pantry and fridge: Before you head to the grocery store, do a quick inventory of what's left in your kitchen. Maybe that half-gallon of milk will last you through the week and you don't need to buy another gallon after all. Not checking what's left in your kitchen can make you buy more things than you actually need.
  2. Not making a grocery list: Having a grocery list can help you shop faster and, of course, get everything you need. Forgetting to buy something is not only annoying and wastes time, but it also wastes money. When is the last time you went to the store to pick up that one thing you forgot to buy and ended up with a few extra things in your basket?
  3. Avoiding crowds and shopping earlier in the week: Shopping on weekends or during busy hours can be really hectic — we get it. But not only do you buy more when you're leisurely strolling through the aisles, but also retailers put out more coupons and deals during the latter half of the week when they know there will be more customers.
  4. Bringing your kids to the store: While grocery shopping might seem like a fun family activity, it's not helping you save any money. Kids will inevitably beg you for that candy bar or sugary cereal, and you'll eventually give in.
  5. Going to the store hungry: We've all made this mistake. Going to the grocery store hungry is a surefire way to buy things you don't really need. Try not to shop with your nose, and avoid the freshly baked section if possible.
  6. Using a large shopping cart: Using a spacious shopping cart can trick your mind into buying more things than you need. Try grocery shopping with a basket or a smaller cart, and you'll be less inclined to pile things on.
  7. Buying overpriced "convenient" foods: We've all heard the saying, "time is money." But is it really? While it might save you a couple extra minutes to buy shredded carrot, sliced apples, and peeled garlic, let's compare the prices: at Safeway, peeled garlic costs $5.49 a pound, whereas unpeeled garlic costs 79 cents a pound. That's almost seven times more expensive. And with this garlic-peeling trick, you can peel a whole head of garlic in just 10 seconds, so why pay extra for convenience?
  8. Buying meat or cheese from the deli: Buying fresh meat, seafood, or cheese from the deli is usually more expensive than buying prepackaged. Unless you need a specific cut of meat that isn't in the meat section, try to avoid the deli.
  9. Not buying generic: Oftentimes, grocery stores will sell generic brands or store-brand versions to your favorite brand goods, and they will be much cheaper.
  10. Buying things fresh instead of frozen: There are some things that are worth buying fresh, but there are others that are just as good frozen. If you're buying fruits to throw into your blender for a smoothie, they don't need to be fresh. Frozen blueberries, strawberries, etc., are picked at their peak of ripeness and frozen immediately, so they taste just as good and will last longer (and keep your smoothie ice cold!).
  11. Buying disguised water: If you're buying things like quarts of chicken stock and bottled tea, you're essentially paying extra for water. One bottle of green tea can cost between $1 and $2, whereas 20 bags (therefore, 20 servings) of green tea costs $3 to $4. An even more drastic example is chicken stock. One quart of chicken stock can cost anywhere from $2 to $4, whereas a jar of chicken base costs $3 to $6 and can make 10 quarts of stock. Plus you can also save fridge and pantry space if you buy less disguised water.
  12. Buying organic when you don't need to: Buying organic can get pricey, especially if you're buying everything organic. Knowing when to buy organic and when not to buy organic is crucial if you want to save some money. Fruits like avocado, pineapple, and watermelon don't need to be organic because their thick skins protects the flesh from pesticides, while vegetables like onions don't attract many pests at all. See the full list of foods you don't need to buy organic.
  13. Not buying seasonal goods: Buying fruits and vegetables that are in season will help you save so much money. Use this app to figure out when certain produce is in season, and plan your meals around that.
  14. Not comparing prices: Not only should you be comparing prices between different brands, but you should also be comparing the price of different sizes within a brand. Should you buy in bulk or individually? Should you buy the larger, family-sized bottle or a smaller one? Try calculating the price per pound or ounce to see which is a more frugal choice. Also retailers like to put the most expensive products at eye level, so try looking at the top or bottom shelves for better prices.
  15. Not using coupons for household essentials/staples: We're often told to use coupons with caution — buying something we don't need just because we have a coupon does not save money. But for household essentials like laundry detergent, paper towels, toilet paper, etc., keep an eye out for coupons and stock up on those staples when they're on sale.
  16. Not taking things out at the last minute: If you're standing in line at the cash register and realize you don't really need that bag of pretzels you impulsively threw in, don't hesitate to take it out. You can either return it to the aisle or ask the cashier to take it.
  17. Impulse buying at the cash register: Oh, those candy bars and sweet snacks will forever tempt us at the cash register. But be strong and try not to grab anything at the last minute! Not only are you impulse buying, but those candy bars are often not the best price compared to buying in bulk at the candy aisle.
  18. Not bringing your reusable shopping bag: Many states are moving toward charging customers for grocery bags, and while paper bags are only 10 cents each, they sure can add up year after year. If you don't have reusable shopping bags, try making your own with a t-shirt.
  19. Not checking your receipt: Start a habit of checking your receipt to see if there were any mistakes. You can even use that time to really think about whether you need everything you just bought. Most grocery stores will accept returns for a full refund.

Let us know in the comments below if you know any other bad grocery shopping habits!

Source: Shutterstock
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