Most people don’t realize they’re making these grocery shopping mistakes. But, the reality is the mistakes you’re making at the grocery store are costing you a lot of money. You don’t have to waste any more money, the simple tips below will help you stick to your grocery budget right away.
Grocery Shopping Mistakes That Are Costing You Money Each Month
You Don’t Know Prices
This is the most common mistake, so don’t feel like you’re alone.
When you don’t know what prices you can expect to pay, then you end up paying way too much. The store will try to get you to pay as much as they can for your groceries and they make a lot of extra money on people who don’t shop wisely.
Battle this by creating a Grocery Price List to track the sale prices of your favorite or most-purchased groceries.
With a Grocery Price List, you’ll see when a sale is good enough and you’ll know if you’re actually getting a good price. This will help you plan your family’s meals around foods that are at their rock-bottom price.
Here are a Few Grocery Shopping Surprises-
- Not everything in the ad is a good deal
- Large isn’t always better
- Generic isn’t always cheaper
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Shopping Too Often
Every time you enter a grocery store it’s another chance to spend too much money. People overbuy because of temptations and the more often you’re faced with those temptations, the more often you give in to them.
Limit your shopping trips to once per week and try stretching it even further. When you have a good plan in place, you can easily go 2 weeks between shopping trips.
Shopping Without a Meal Plan
You’ve probably been told 100 times that you need a meal plan – and there’s a good reason. Shopping without a meal plan is like heading out on a trip without a map.
Yes, you might find your way, but you’ll end up taking a lot of unnecessary detours along the way. Those detours will waste a lot of gas and money.
When you have a meal plan, you know just what you need to pick up and therefore you’ll get out of the store much quicker. We know that the longer you spend in the store, the more money you’ll spend.
- Make a Frugal Meal Plan in 7 Steps
- Make a Super Simple Meal Plan in Under 10 Minutes
- Ultimate Guide to Monthly Meal Planning
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Shopping Without a List
This goes right along with having a meal plan. Ideally, you will create the two together at home while you’re sitting with the grocery ad.
If you head to the store without your list, you can expect to forget what you need and end up making another trip before you planned to.
You’re Not Using Coupons
Coupons are like free money. Don’t feel like you have to be like one of those crazy extreme couponers to save money. There are plenty of coupons that are easy to use without doing a ton of clipping and hunting. Most grocery stores even put coupons in their sales flyer.
If there are brand-name products you buy, do a quick internet search for coupons and you’ll be surprised what you can find.
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You’re Not Using Rebate Apps
Rebate apps are so easy to use and typically just require taking a picture of your receipt. And, if you combine them with a coupon or sale you get amazing deals.
Here are my favorites:
Save More Money with These Apps
- Fetch Rewards – this is my new favorite because every single grocery receipt will earn you points. You’ll get bonus points for many products, too. Use my referral code (T1WGP) and get 2000 points with your first receipt.
- Ibotta – you can find offers on all kinds of products and then get cash back (yes, actual cash back). Use my referral link and get a $10 Welcome Bonus with your first receipt.
- Checkout 51 – another rebate app I started using in addition to Ibotta. I like that by using them together, sometimes I can get double rebates. Use my link and get $10 after you submit a receipt.
Buying Convenience Food
For the most part, convenience food is much more expensive than food you can prepare yourself. For example:
- you can make a whole pot of chili for about $5 or spend $1.50 for a single can.
- You can buy a pound of rice for $1 or buy premade rice for $3.
- Pay $3 for a salad mix or make your own for $1
- Pay $6/lb. for cut vegetables or $1/lb. for whole
- Buy a cake mix for $1 or pay $8 for a bakery cake
All these extra costs start to add up quickly. Stick to whole foods to save more money consistently.
There are some exceptions to this rule. Here are a few convenience foods that are actually economical:
- Rotisserie Chicken
- Frozen Veggies
- Frozen Fruit
Buying Snack Size Products
Instead of buying your snacks in little portions, divide larger packages into snack-sized portions at home. You can divide the whole bag of chips or can of nuts into small containers or baggies at once. If you’re using plastic baggies, keep them in a larger airtight container like this one, because the baggies aren’t airtight and you don’t want them to get stale.
Buying From the End Caps
Grocery stores fill their end caps with food that they want you to buy on impulse. Sometimes these items are on sale, but not always.
Be sure that if you are tempted by something on the end cap that it’s the right price and the right time for you to buy. Here’s where knowing your prices and using your Price Book will help out.
Falling for 10-for-10 Deals
There are times that you can use these deals successfully, but there are a few things to know first:
- Usually, you don’t actually have to buy 10 items.
- Sometimes, I’ll see something that can be found for $.89 as part of this type of promotion and people will end up paying more for it.
- If you buy 10, you need to be sure that you will actually use them up before they go bad.
Shopping from the Center of the Ad
The best sales are usually listed on the front page of the ad and sometimes on the back. Often the middle of the ad is just filled with items that they can trick you into buying. I even see things at their normal price listed there.
Buying Holiday Items
All through the year, your grocery store will put out various holiday items. But, the grocery store is an expensive place to buy holiday gifts and decor. Resist the temptation to buy them.
Trying all the New Flavors
Have you noticed how often companies will come out with a new flavored item? They do this just to get you to impulse buy and so they can take up more shelf space. Resist the urge to buy these things unless they are on sale at a stock-up price.
This happens the most with produce or frozen food. Most canned and boxed food can last a long time, but perishable food needs to be prepared in a reasonable amount of time.
Be sure that if you’re stocking up on food, that you will actually get around to eating it. I have a Pantry Challenge every couple of months to use up what’s in my pantry.
Read How to Have a Pantry Challenge, Here.
How to Stop Wasting Produce:
When you’re shopping for produce, think hard about what you’ll actually eat. I have great plans to eat a salad every day, but honestly, if I buy that much lettuce — I’ll definitely be throwing some of it away.
Try to underbuy fresh produce until you figure out how much you’ll actually eat each week. This will help reduce your food waste. You can have a few bags of frozen veggies for back-up.
Also, you can buy more long-lasting produce and less produce that spoils quickly. What produce lasts a long time?
- All Frozen Fruit and Vegetables
Buying Lunchmeat and Cheese from the Deli
One of my first jobs was in a grocery store deli. I learned a lot on that job, and I can now tell you that I almost never buy lunchmeat and cheese from the deli.
Here are a few reasons:
- It’s often double the price of packaged products.
- Items are exposed to more bacteria so they spoil quicker.
- Your cheese will mold faster because it’s exposed more.
- The quality is not much or any better.
More Posts to Help You Save Money on Groceries
- 10 Killer Ways to Save Money on Groceries
- Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget
- How to Create a Grocery Price Book
- 4 Steps to Save Money on Groceries Every Month
You don’t have to fall for these grocery shopping mistakes any longer. With the right tools in place, like a grocery price book, meal plan, and grocery list, you’ll know just what to buy each week.