No matter how tight your budget is, you’ve gotta eat — and that means grocery shopping. Fortunately for all of us who live without an unlimited budget, the grocery store is actually one of the easiest places to save money. At least, it can be, if you don’t get in your own way. To help you stretch your food dollars, here are 10 things you’re doing wrong at the grocery store that you can fix right away.
1. Shopping Too Frequently
The only reason to go to the grocery store every day is a simple lack of planning. If you plan well, you’ll cut down on trips AND end up spending less. After all, fewer trips to the store means fewer impulse purchases and cravings buys.
2. Always Shopping the Same Store
We’re creatures of habit. We tend to visit the same stores, out of convenience if not out of a sense of loyalty. But it pays to shop around shop the store with the best deals on things you actually buy. Pay attention to those ads you get in the mail!
3. Not Using Coupons & Apps
It seems like so much work, doesn’t it? If you’re against cutting coupons from the paper, download apps for your favorite stores. Most grocery chains have them, and all you need to do to use the coupons you save is enter your member number or phone number at checkout. There are also several different money-saving grocery apps available.
4. Not Using Rewards Programs
Most stores have rewards programs that end up saving you on groceries and even gas. Sign up and you’ll be rewarded with special deals and even freebies.
5. Not Making a List
Never go to the store without a list. And don’t buy anything that’s not on it! And before you go, check what recipe ingredients you’ll need that you already have on hand, so you don’t end up buying things you already have in your pantry, fridge, or freezer.
6. Buying Non-Foods at the Grocery Store
Unless you have some killer coupons, you’ll always pay more for non-food items at the grocery store. Just don’t do it!
7. Looking Eye-Level
Eye-level shelves are usually where the more expensive things are.
8. Shopping the Inner Isles
The outer isles, where diary, produce, and meats are usually kept, are usually where you’ll save the most money. Convenience foods are usually in the middle isles, and you’ll probably spend more there. Shop the perimeter as much as possible.
9. Buying Name Brands
Sure, there’s loyalty at play. But when you’re trying to save money, one of the best things you can do is give store brands and generics a chance.
10. You Don’t Eat it All
We’re not saying you should clean your plate every night. But did you know the average American tosses away $2,000 of food every year? Ouch! Keep a close eye on what you’ve got on hand, don’t overbuy, and freeze things before they go bad.