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11 Costly Mistakes You Make At The Grocery Store

Forget coupon binders and complicated spreadsheets—saving money at the store is easy when you don't do these things!

Grocery Shopping Mistakes

While I have been one of those people who rely on crazy couponing techniques and complicated spreadsheets to help me save money at the grocery store in the past, I eventually got to the point where I didn’t have the time or patience for that approach anymore. These days, I think most of us are primarily interested in simple, spreadsheet-free methods of saving at the store, which is exactly what you’ll find in today’s post! 🙂

Related: 10 Ways To Make Grocery Shopping Less Terrible

Today I’ll be sharing some money-saving tips that center on making small changes to the way you shop, especially to avoid those little choices that lead to overspending. By correcting these behaviors, you’ll start saving money every time you shop, regardless of which store you prefer!

I hope you find these tips as illuminating as I did. And if you have any tips for saving money on groceries that aren’t mentioned here, feel free to share them with us in a comment at the bottom of this post so that everyone can benefit from your wisdom! 🙂

Related: This One Simple Trick Will Save You A Fortune On Groceries

11 Costly Grocery Shopping Mistakes

Grocery Shopping Mistakes

1. You Don’t Look Down

A lot of people just grab whatever option happens to be at eye-level, but that might mean you’re missing out on less expensive options on the lower shelves! Many stores purposely place less expensive items below eye-level, so take a few extra seconds to check those lower shelves.

Related: 11 Practical Ways To Save Money When Times Are Tough

Grocery Shopping Mistakes

2. You Make Several Small Trips

Frequent trips to the store to buy just a few items can actually cost more in the long run, and not just because you’re using more gasoline to get there. Shopping with an abstract goal in mind (like “get food for the next few days,” for instance) often results in unplanned spending, so making fewer, more goal-oriented trips to the store can help you stick to your budget.

Grocery Shopping Mistakes

3. You Always Buy The Biggest Size

It’s important to know that the largest size isn’t always going to be cheaper! It all depends on the “unit price,” so it’s important to look for it on price tags and compare them closely.

Once in a while, you’ll notice that the smaller item is actually cheaper than the bulk option! Some stores do this on items like cereal and french fries anticipating that shoppers will reach for the larger size by default.

Grocery Shopping Mistakes

4. You Only Look In One Place

You can find certain items in multiple locations throughout the store, and the prices may vary between locations. For instance, you can often find cheese in up to four different sections, such as a section for specialty cheeses, alongside the salad toppings, shredded or block cheeses at the deli, and cheese sticks by the lunch meats.

If you’re willing to check a few different places, you can save quite a bit of money!

Grocery Shopping Mistakes

5. You Always Choose Convenience

Stores like to display certain items together to make things convenient, but they aren’t always the most cost effective options. For instance, there’s often a small selection of nuts and candies located in or near the ice cream aisle, but you can find a much larger selection in the baking aisle (along with a more favorable range of prices!)

Grocery Shopping Mistakes

6. You Don’t Check The Salad Bar

If you need a specialty food item that you don’t normally use, check the salad bar. You can often find items like olives, artichoke hearts, bacon bits, and other ingredients there, and you can save money by only getting as much as you need.

If your store doesn’t have an extensive salad bar, check near the produce or deli department for their “made fresh daily” offerings.

Grocery Shopping Mistakes

7. You Shop Early In The Day

If you shop first thing in the morning, you may be missing out on markdowns that may appear later in the day. Check the end caps of the aisles for special prices, along with the meat department and bakery.

Grocery Shopping Mistakes

8. You Don’t Double Check Receipts

Incorrect charges happen all the time, so it’s always a good idea to check your receipt! Common errors include multiple scans, sale prices not being reflected, and coupons not being applied.

Take the time to double-check that everything looks right on your receipt before you leave the store parking lot.

Grocery Shopping Mistakes

9. You Forget Your Bags

Don’t forget your reusable shopping bags, because most stores now either charge a few cents for each bag you use, or they offer a small discount for bringing your own. That money can add up over time, so it’s worth the extra little bit of effort!

Grocery Shopping Mistakes

10. You Shop For A Recipe

When you shop for a specific recipe, chances are pretty low that those ingredients will happen to be on sale. A better way to save it to check the store website or circular to find out what’s on sale, then plan your meals around the best deals available.

It’s a little bit of extra work to shop this way, but it can save you a significant amount of money!

Grocery Shopping Mistakes

11. You Don’t Use The Store App

A lot of grocery store chains have an app you can download with additional ways to save money, like digital coupons you can load right onto your customer loyalty card. It only takes a second, and it’s so much easier than trying to keep track of paper coupons.

Certain stores also offer personalized offers based on your buying habits, so it’s definitely worth your time to check out your favorite store’s app!

What’s your best tip for saving money at the grocery store?


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    Hi, I’m Jillee!

    I believe we should all love the place we call home and the life we live there. Since 2011, I’ve been dedicated to making One Good Thing by Jillee a reliable and trustworthy resource for modern homemakers navigating the everyday challenges of running a household. Join me as I share homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make life easier so you can enjoy it more!

    Every day I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

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