Savings Tips

11 Mistakes You Make While Grocery Shopping

Words by Abbie Dyer on Mar 10, 2015 12:08:00 PM

 It’s no secret that we’re creatures of habit. When we get into a routine, it’s easy to overlook small details. And when it comes to grocery shopping, many of us will gladly sacrifice our money to cut down on time. How often do you actually sit down and compare prices of groceries at different stores? Do you often forget to buy items on your list and have to make another trip to the store? If so, read on for our tips on how to have a more successful trip to the grocery store this weekend.

Establishing a new routine based around smart shopping habits will help you save money in the long run and it might allow you to visit some new places. But factors like where you shop, the day of the week, and the time of day can all have an impact on the price you pay for your groceries. Save some cash and avoid these common mistakes the next time your fridge is bare.

Running on Empty

When you’re hungry, you tend to buy more because you’re only thinking about your short-term needs. Eat a snack before you go out to avoid buying things that are bad for your diet and your wallet.

Forgetting the List

When you plan what to buy, you’ll avoid purchasing things that you don’t need. Sometimes we convince ourselves that we’re almost out of an item only to discover that we have more than enough at home. Or worse, we forget to buy something and have to make an extra trip back to the store. Take inventory of what items you're getting low on before you go to the store. Better yet, keep a running list throughout the week. When you notice that you're getting low on an item, write it down right away. Your grocery list will practically make itself.

Improvising a Menu

Save yourself from the dreaded “What’s for dinner?” question from your kids. When you plan your meals, you only buy what you need and end up wasting less food. No more cleaning out your cupboards to find a three-year-old can of beans.

Buying in Bulk

Bigger is better, right? Not always. Use the calculator on your phone to figure out the cost per unit. Warehouses like to make you think that you’re getting a bargain because you’re buying in bulk, but many times it’s cheaper to buy smaller quantities. And who needs 10 pounds of beef jerky at once anyway?

Picking Canned Veggies

Not only do canned vegetables have more sodium in them than their frozen counterparts, but they can also be more expensive. Stick to frozen fruits and veggies and only buy fresh produce if you know that you're going to finish all of it before it goes bad. There's no point in buying the five pounds of strawberries that are on sale if half of the carton is going to go to waste.

Grabbing a Cart Instead of a Basket

If you don’t have a huge list, grab a basket. You’re more likely to throw food that you don’t need into a cart because you want to fill up the empty space. If you have a basket, you’ll be more likely to stick to your list because you don’t want to lug the extra weight around.

Passing Up a Rain Check

Don’t be afraid to ask for a rain check for something that’s on sale. You can always take advantage of the savings on your next trip. You might even find that by your next trip you don’t need the item.

Creating a plan to budget for groceries is tough. For extra tips to get your finances in check, check out our monthly budgeting tips.

Driving by the Farmer’s Market

Buying produce is sometimes cheaper at the local farmer’s market than it is at the store. Remember that some farmers are trying to compete with grocery stores, so they’ll have comparable prices. You can enjoy some fresh fruits and veggies and feel good knowing that you helped a local farmer. Visit your local Chamber of Commerce website to find dates, times, and locations for farmers markets in your area.

Overlooking Store Brand Items

Just because something is generic doesn’t mean it is of lesser quality. Oftentimes, if you compare ingredients on store-brand products and their name-brand counterparts, you’ll find that they are made of the exact same things.

Using Coupons for Things You Don’t Need

If an item isn’t on your list, don’t buy it just because you have a coupon for it. A coupon doesn’t always mean something is a good deal. Remember when we told you to give store brands a chance? Here’s another reason: Even with a coupon for a name-brand item, it’s often cheaper to buy the store-brand item anyway. And some stores will often give you a five to ten percent discount if you buy the store brand and use the store’s mobile app.

Buying the 10 for $10 Items

Sure, this sale can be a great deal, but it depends on what you’re buying. Sometimes stores hike up the price on items that are normally less than a dollar so you think you’re getting a deal with the sale. Oh, and you don’t always have to buy 10 items to get the deal, so check the fine print on the circular. 

Taking a few minutes out of your day to change up your grocery shopping routine can have a huge effect on your budget. Be a smart shopper and don’t fall into the trap of overspending on your groceries each month.

And, don't forget to keep track of your balance on the go with our account management tools, like Online and Mobile Banking. 

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