Nobody likes to go grocery shopping, but it’s just one of those things you have to do. We make our lists and try to do the best we can to buy healthy food that will feed our family and give them plenty of energy. That isn’t always easy though.
Healthy food is sometimes far expensive than the unhealthy stuff. It’s also less convenient. Anyone on a grocery budget can understand why so many people opt for cheap over healthy, but maybe there are some ways you can save money at the store.
By avoiding certain bad habits that you have while shopping, you can stop overspending and start saving. It might not be easy, but avoiding some simple mistakes can make a big difference in your bank account. Imagine being able to spend that money on something other than groceries.
If you want to find a way to save money on the groceries you buy every week, these tips can help. Sometimes it’s not the things you aren’t doing, but the things you are doing that could be costing you money. Don’t make these common shopping mistakes.
1. Not Checking Prices
If you are one of those people who fly through the store without checking prices, you might feel like you have found a way to finish your shopping faster. That may be true, but you are probably spending more money. It’s worth spending a few extra seconds comparing prices to save money.
2. Buying Name Brand Products
Sure the name brand products always look the best, but are they really? In most cases, you are paying for that fancy packaging and not what’s inside it. Off-brand products are just as good and almost always cost less. At least try the generic before you commit to only buying a name brand item.
3. Buying Imitation Meat
Being vegan or vegetarian isn’t easy, and some people still like the taste or texture of meat in their meals. Sure imitation meats are convenient, but they are also expensive. If you want to stay vegan and save money, forget the meat, even the imitation kind. It’s not really worth it.
4. Not Making A List
Failing to make a shopping list can cause you to buy things you don’t need and make you forget the things you do. It can interfere with your meal plans and cause you to have to make several trips to the store, which leads to buying more than you need.
5. Buying Pre-Cut Produce
Pre-cut produce is convenient, but it’s also very expensive. You can save a lot of money on your favorite fruits and vegetables by just cutting them yourself. Unless the pre-cut fruit is on sale, it’s probably a waste of money. Is being lazy worth the extra cost?
6. Ignoring Discounts
Stores often offer discounts or special deals certain times of the week or month. Don’t ignore them. These deals are worth the time and hassle. You can stock up on some staples and save a lot of money. Pay attention to ads and flyers to find deals at your local stores.
7. Not Buying In Bulk
You might look at bulk problems as more expensive, but you could save money with them in the long run. You may be able to buy meat and other products in bulk, separate them into freezer bags or containers, and then use them as needed. Always compare the prices.
8. Buying Toiletries At The Grocery Store
Nobody wants to go to more than one store to get the things they need, but if it means saving money are you willing to do it? Buying your toiletries and other products from the grocery store could be costing you a lot of money. They are often much cheaper at discount stores.
9. Buying Products At The Front Of The Shelves
You probably just grab the first product on the shelf when shopping. If you are in a hurry, this is understandable, but you may be buying the oldest product on the shelf. Grocery stores stock shelves, especially coolers, from the back. That means the fresher products are not in the front.
10. Marketing Gimmicks
It’s hard to ignore them, but don’t fall for marketing gimmicks. Companies will do anything to sell their products at a higher price. Just get the things you need and don’t let the ads or gimmicks trick you into buying something else or overpaying. There’s a reason they are called gimmicks.
11. Always Buying Fresh
Sure, fresh is best in most cases, but that doesn’t mean you always have to buy fresh produce. Think about how you are using the item. In some cases, frozen or canned foods may be a better option and almost always cheaper. Don’t be afraid to compare the prices of fresh produce with canned and frozen.
12. Premade Meals
Most people are busy and want meals that are easy to make or fix. Those premade meals may be tempting, but you aren’t getting much food for your buck. Instead, buy the ingredients you need and make the same meal. Use the leftovers to create your own premade frozen meals for busy days in the future.
13. Buying Produce When It’s Not In Season
If you crave certain fruits or vegetables, try to hold off until they are in season. If you do the opposite, you will pay more for them. You can always try frozen or canned fruits and vegetables if you need them but don’t want to overpay when they are not in season.
14. Buying Exotic Spices
Adding exotic spices to your meals may seem like fun, but the prices of those spices can be outrageous. In most cases, you don’t even need them or can find a domestic spice that is similar. Don’t waste your money on something you don’t really need to add to a meal.
15. Shopping While Hungry
If you have ever gone shopping while hungry, you have probably already made this mistake. You can’t help but want to buy and eat everything in the store. If you are on a budget, this can make it hard to stay on track. Have a snack before you hit the grocery store, so that you don’t overspend.
16. Buying Bone-In Meat
When you buy bone-in meat, you pay for the bone. Doesn’t really make sense, does it? If you can find the meat you want off the bone, you will get more for the same price. It’s also usually easier to work with, and you can separate it and use it for more than one meal.
17. Shopping At Eye Level
Stores know that people shop at eye level, so they put the most expensive items there.. Instead of grabbing what is nearest to you, consider looking for similar products at the very top or underneath the center of the shelves. They will likely be much more affordable. Bending over or reaching up could save you a few bucks.
18. Buying The Wrong Part Of The Chicken
You might not think that this is a big deal, but certain parts of the chicken are more expensive than others. You may think you need breasts when thighs or quarters would work just as well and are much cheaper. Think about how you will use the chicken and substitute for the cheaper portions when you can to save money.
19. Impulse Buying
Don’t let yourself buy things you don’t need, no matter how bad you think you want them at the time. Impulse buying is something we all deal with, but don’t fall for it. Stay strong and don’t buy things on impulse. If you decide you need them later, you can always go back and get them.
20. Failing To Clip Coupons
Yeah, coupons might seem like a hassle, but they can save you a lot of money. Clip them from your newspaper and look online for coupons that you can add to your loyalty card or printed out at home. It’s worth it to use coupons when at the grocery store.
21. Shopping At The Wrong Time of Day
Your brain is better at solving problems and thinking clearly at certain times of the day. Make sure you shop when you are feeling sharp. This way, you will pay attention to the price and the amount of money you are spending while at the store. If you are stressed or tired, avoid shopping until a later time.
22. Shopping Too Often
Don’t get in the habit of shopping weekly. Sometimes you might not need to buy as much as you think. Before you go, check your fridge and cabinets to make sure you actually need to go grocery shopping. You will find this keeps you from buying things you don’t need and overspending.
23. Not Using Loyalty Programs
It might seem annoying to sign up for all those loyalty programs, but they can pay off. Stores offer great discounts and coupons for their loyal customers. Because you can sign up for them online, you don’t have to take the time to do it in the store. Just keep your loyalty card with you when you shop.
24. Listening To Store Music
Ever notice how store music is always slow? That’s because you are more likely to take your time while shopping when listening to slow music. More time means you spend more money. Don’t fall for it. Stay distracted or bring your own music with you, listening to it instead.
25. Using A Big Cart
If you have a big cart, you are much more likely to fill it up. If you are wondering if you need those extra cases of pop and can’t fit them into your cart, you are much more likely to put them back. If you only need a few things, use a basket instead of a full-sized shopping cart.
26. Waiting In Long Lines
When you wait in line at the checkout, you come face-to-face with candy bars, bags of chips, and last-minute items that you think you can’t live without buying. You can live without them and if you realize you need one of the items, go back to find it in the correct store department. Items by the registers are often priced higher than those in their original departments.
27. Shopping With Kids
Kids always have things they want from the store, and if you are a softy, you will probably give into at least some of them. Try shopping without your kids or else find a way to distract them with a book or activity so you can shop and not have to listen to them beg for overpriced products in the store.
28. Buying The Cheapest Products
You might think that saving money at the grocery store is as easy as buying the cheapest product you can find, but this isn’t always true. Sometimes, the cheaper products come in the same size box but offer less product. Be sure to compare weights and sizes and then make sure you are getting a good deal, not just a cheap price.
29. Failing To Plan For Leftovers
When you buy food in bulk, you can save money. Even if you don’t think you will use all the food, you can always reuse the leftovers for a new meal. You can turn roasts into soups and add meats to salads or put it on sandwiches. Don’t throw out leftovers or pass up a bargain before you think about ways to use that food.
30. Shopping Too Far In Advance
If you think you can buy a month’s worth of food in one trip, think again. Not only will this stress you out, but you will likely buy things that will expire before you use them. You might even forget why you bought them and fail to use them.