Guy Fieri wants you to make a grocery list so you don’t forget important ingredients | Dylan Rives / Stringer/Getty Images
15 Ways You’re Wasting Money on Food
The average American family spends $4,000 perِ year (about $333 perِ month) onِ groceries, according toِ theِ Bureau ofِ Labor Statistics.
But forِ many, food eats upِ evenِ more ofِ the household budget due toِ shopping mistakes.
Americans waste evenِ more money byِ buying overpriced items, ignoring sales, andِ not usingِ coupons, according toِ consumer experts.
1. Not making a list
Grocery shopping withoutِ a list isِ one ofِ the biggest mistakes youِ canِ make.
The latterِ isِ key toِ saving evenِ more money.
“Planning meals aroundِ what’s onِ sale isِ key toِ saving money onِ food andِ reducing yourِ overallِ grocery budget.” Next: This mistake isِ not onlyِ a waste ofِ money, butِ alsoِ a waste ofِ time.
Impulse buys are much more likely if you look down every aisle. | Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images
2. Hitting every aisle
A slow, methodical trek throughِ theِ grocery store canِ backfire ifِ you’re notِ careful.
“Don’t goِ downِ anِ aisle whereِ you don’t needِ anythingِ — itِ canِ only lead toِ overbuying,” saidِ David Bakke, a consumer expert withِ Money Crashers.
You’re lessِ likely toِ fill yourِ cart withِ chips orِ expensive frozen meals ifِ you don’t walk pastِ them inِ the firstِ place.
Next: Bulk isn’t always cost-effective.
3. Always buying in bulk
“Buy 10 andِ save” deals areِ tempting, butِ stocking upِ onِ large quantities ofِ anِ item orِ automatically reaching forِ the bigger container isn’t alwaysِ a savvy move.
“Buying inِ bulk canِ beِ a money saver asِ long asِ you’ll useِ theِ item beforeِ it expires.
Buying 100 ounces ofِ ketchup atِ once mightِ backfire onِ you,” Bakke said.
Do you really need 25 pounds of flour? | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Next: Price varies.
4. Only shopping at one store
So it’s bestِ to shop around.
For Perez, thatِ means hitting a warehouse club, suchِ asِ Costco, whichِ hasِ good deals onِ usually pricey items, including maple syrup, butter, andِ avocado oil.
“Knowing whichِ stores haveِ the bestِ prices onِ the items youِ buy isِ key toِ saving money onِ groceries,” consumer expert Andrea Woroch said.
Next: Store brands might be even better — and cheaper — than name brands.
Whole Foods Market | Spencer Platt/Getty Images
5. Passing on the store brands
Only buying name-brand products isِ a surefire wayِ toِ run upِ your grocery bill ifِ you’re notِ careful.
“Try theِ store brands ofِ your favorite items.
“Many nameِ brands areِ actuallyِ packing theirِ sameِ products underِ store labels withِ theِ sameِ quality standards andِ a lowerِ price,” heِ added.
Next: Look up — and down.
6. Only shopping at eye level
Sometimes all you’re paying for is the name with name-brand products. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Stores put theِ pricier items atِ eye level soِ you’ll grab themِ without scanning theِ shelves forِ a betterِ deal.
The sameِ goesِ forِ end-caps, orِ the displays atِ the endِ of theِ aisle.
“The bestِ bargains areِ closest toِ theِ floor, soِ getِ your exercise andِ bend down,” saidِ Jamie Novak, author ofِ Stop Throwing Money Away.
Next: Know when things go on sale.
7. Not shopping the sales cycles
You knowِ canned pumpkin willِ beِ on sale inِ the fall, andِ chocolate isِ cheaper aroundِ Valentine’s Day.
“There areِ a lot ofِ other seasonal items thatِ goِ on sale duringِ months youِ mayِ not expect, likeِ oatmeal inِ January, sodas inِ July, andِ peanut butter inِ September,” saidِ Nedalee Thomas, a frugal-living expert andِ founder ofِ Princess Power.
Stores alsoِ mark downِ items everyِ six toِ 12 weeks asِ they restock shelves, Thomas explained.
Next: You’re not done once you hit the checkout line.
8. Not paying attention at the register
Mistakes canِ happen whenِ cashiers scan theِ items inِ your cart.
Big-box store Target wasِ recentlyِ ordered toِ pay a $4 million fine afterِ an investigation revealed items sometimesِ rang upِ atِ higher-than-advertised prices.
A cashier canِ accidentally charge youِ forِ expensive curly parsley whenِ what’s reallyِ inِ the bag isِ the lessِ expensive flat leaf parsley.” , 7 ] .
Next: Which day is best?
9. Shopping on the wrong day of the week
Time yourِ shopping toِ coincide withِ your store’s weekly sales. Shopping onِ the day theِ sale starts ensures youِ canِ snag anyِ bargains beforeِ products sell out. One ofِ the worst days toِ shop isِ Sunday, according toِ anِ analysis byِ mobile shopping app Ibotta.
Next: Time matters.
10. Shopping at the wrong time of day
Head toِ theِ supermarket justِ beforeِ closing toِ snap upِ deals onِ soon-to-be-discarded items. “If youِ goِ atِ the endِ of theِ day, youِ canِ oftentimes find manager’s specials onِ meats — buy oneِ getِ one free, 50% off, et cetera,” Durkin said. Fill yourِ freezer withِ theِ discounted meats, andِ you canِ eat wellِ forِ a fraction ofِ what you’d normallyِ pay.
Next: Do you need food now? Don’t go grocery shopping.
11. Shopping while hungry
You probablyِ knowِ shopping whenِ you’re hungry orِ stressed isِ bad. You’re moreِ likelyِ to fill yourِ cart withِ impulse purchases. Plus, crowded stores lead toِ a “get inِ andِ get out” attitude, whichِ “leaves littleِ time forِ comparing prices orِ checking store apps forِ digital coupons,” Perez said.
Next: Save those receipts.
12. Throwing away your receipts
You probablyِ justِ leave yourِ grocery receipt crumpled atِ the bottom ofِ a bag. Personal finance blogger Karen Cordaway saysِ you canِ save $2,200 orِ moreِ per year simply byِ taping yourِ grocery receipt toِ theِ fridge. “Refer toِ theِ receipt whenِ you useِ theِ fridge becauseِ it willِ remind youِ ofِ what youِ bought, andِ when youِ purchased it,” sheِ writes.
Next: A little prep works goes a long way toward savings.
13. Not prepping food
Just likeِ preparing a list isِ essential soِ isِ prepping food. Prepping meals, orِ evenِ just ingredients forِ meals, translates toِ grocery savings. You canِ take advantage ofِ bulk savings, knowing you’ll turn thoseِ ingredients intoِ your lunches forِ the week.
Next: Your fear of new foods could cost you.
14. Getting stuck in a food rut
Is yourِ grocery list pretty muchِ the sameِ eachِ week. Then, you’re definitelyِ not alwaysِ getting yourِ favorite foods atِ a sale price. Instead ofِ picking upِ a grapefruit, forِ instance, everyِ time youِ visit theِ store, tryِ toِ limit yourselfِ toِ when it’s inِ season — andِ cheaper — duringِ the winter months.
Next: Never wonder whether you already have something at home.
15. Stuffing your fridge and pantry
Most people visit theِ grocery store onِ a pretty regular schedule. But theyِ don’t oftenِ decide whetherِ theyِ evenِ need moreِ food. Instead ofِ coming toِ a standstill inِ a grocery aisle, tryingِ toِ remember whetherِ you alreadyِ bought a bottle ofِ ketchup lastِ week, takeِ inventory ofِ what youِ haveِ beforeِ you go.