The biggest mistakes everyone makes at the grocery store from The Biggest Mistakes Everyone Makes at the Grocery Store

The Biggest Mistakes Everyone Makes at the Grocery Store

The biggest mistakes everyone makes at the grocery store
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The biggest mistakes everyone makes at the grocery store

Grocery shopping can be a lot easier and, more importantly, cheaper if you go into the store with a plan. Making a list and sticking to it is a good start, but it’s important to be informed about what you’re buying.

Paying attention to expiration dates, unit prices and labeling terms can make all the difference when grocery shopping.

Check out these 20 tips for having a better experience when buying food.

Wasting money on the wrong size
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Wasting money on the wrong size

You can save money on some products by buying the larger package, but some products actually cost more per ounce in larger sizes. Many stores list the price per ounce on the shelf. 

Buying things you already have
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Buying things you already have

Buying an extra can of soup might not be a big deal, but buying a carton of milk when you already have some at home is a waste. Make a list of staple items you already have, or take a picture of your fridge.

Not stocking up on non-perishables
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Not stocking up on non-perishables

Some foods, such as most canned foods and rice and pasta, can last years on your shelf, so it’s good to stock up when those things are on sale. According to the USDA, use-by dates on canned foods are not required by law and indicate a potential in quality, not safety. With canned goods, it's more important to look for rust or dents when assessing whether it is safe to eat.

Not considering organic
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Not considering organic

Whether to buy organic produce is a difficult question, but knowing which items are more or less likely to contain pesticides can help. The Environmental Working Group compiles an annual list of produce that is motley likely to contain pesticides, called the Dirty Dozen. This year’s list includes strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes, and sweet bell peppers. 

Confusing natural and organic
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Confusing natural and organic

According to the USDA, a product labelled “natural” does not contain artificial ingredients or artificial color and are minimally processed. This is different from organic, a term that restricts the types of pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics and hormones used during production. A product containing the USDA Organic seal must go through certification and inspection.

Shopping infrequently
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Shopping infrequently

Going to the store more frequently means you can buy smaller amounts of fresher foods, rather than just large amounts of frozen and canned foods.

Buying pre-cut produce
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Buying pre-cut produce

Buying pre-cut produce is often more expensive than buying food in its basic unprocessed form, according to the USDA. Buying pre-cut vegetables essentially means you are paying someone else to cut it for you.

Buying pre-cut meat
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Buying pre-cut meat

Similar to buying pre-cut produce, meat sold in convenient single servings is often a bit more expensive. Consider buying a whole chicken and learning how to break it down rather than buying the individual pieces or buying a whole pork tenderloin to cut into pork chops.

Not thinking seasonally
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Not thinking seasonally

Buying seasonal produce means getting fresher and, often, cheaper produce, according to the USDA. 

Wasting money on food that won’t get eaten
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Wasting money on food that won’t get eaten

Take note when you end up throwing out spoiled food, and either buy less next time or come up with ways to use it more. 

Not paying attentions to sales and coupons
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Not paying attentions to sales and coupons

Coupons and other deals can be found in newspapers, online or on flyers in the store. Sometimes coupons will be printed on your receipt as well.

Paying too much attention to sales and coupons
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Paying too much attention to sales and coupons

Paying a low price for food that you won’t end up using is still money wasted. “Buy One, Get One” sales aren’t a good deal if you only need one and the item is perishable.

Brand loyalty
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Brand loyalty

Although not as well known or well-designed, the grocery store’s brand often costs a lot less and sometimes tastes just as good.

Keeping bad items
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Keeping bad items

If something was wrong with the food you bought, even unpackaged food like produce or meat, there’s a chance the store might offer a refund. Don’t be afraid of bringing unsatisfactory products to the customer service desk

Only buying meat for protein
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Only buying meat for protein

If you’re looking to save money, consider going meat free for some meals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average price of a pound of ground beef in 2017 was $3.64, while the average price of a pound of dried beans was $1.36.

Buying pre-made meals
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Buying pre-made meals

Buying frozen meals and other ready-to-eat products means paying extra for someone else to cook for you. Buying the ingredients and cooking your own meal is often a lot cheaper, especially when the meal involves affordable, non-perishable staple items that you may have around anyways. 

Ignoring the outside aisles
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Ignoring the outside aisles

The outside aisles of grocery stores usually have the freshest foods such as fresh meats, dairy, and produce. 

Not knowing what kind of ground meat you’re buying
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Not knowing what kind of ground meat you’re buying

“Ground beef” and “hamburger” are not interchangeable terms. Ground beef and hamburger can contain up to 30% fat. The fat in hamburger, however, may be added, while the fat in ground beef must be fat from the cuts of meat that have been ground, according to the USDA.

Not knowing what egg terms mean
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Not knowing what egg terms mean

“Cage-free” eggs are from chickens that are allowed to roam around, but not necessarily outside. “Free-range,” “free-roaming” and “pasture-raised” chicken laying eggs do have outside access, according to the Humane Society.

Not checking the label on juice
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Not checking the label on juice

If you want to buy a product that is 100% juice, make sure to avoid products that are called “juice beverages” or “juice drinks,” which may not be pure juice. according to the FDA.

The Biggest Mistakes Everyone Makes at the Grocery Store