Grocery shopping can be, for lack of a better word, stressful.
Not only do you have to figure out what you need to buy, but you also have to think about how much you want to spend. If it was up to us, we wouldn’t have to go grocery shopping at all. But a girl’s gotta eat, and more importantly, grocery shopping doesn’t have to be the stressful, expensive task that you think it is.
We put together a list of some of the most common mistakes people make at the grocery store. From forgetting your bags to coming unprepared, you can save money when you avoid these mishaps.
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1. Buying Too Little
Most shoppers are afraid of buying too much at the grocery store, but the truth is, you should be more concerned with buying too little. And here’s why. Let’s say you buy enough groceries to last you through half the week. Once Thursday hits, you’re hungry, tired and out of ideas. So, instead of making a home-cooked meal, you order dinner from the restaurant down the street, spending way more money than you would have on groceries. It’s instances like these that will force you to go over budget during the week.
Solution: Plan ahead.
Eating out is not a bad thing, especially if you plan accordingly. At the start of the week, figure out what days you’re going to eat at home and what days you’re going to eat out. That way, there won’t be any overlap. This will make it easier to avoid buying too much or too little at the grocery store.
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2. Forgetting Your Bags
How many times have you arrived at your local grocery store and said to yourself, “I forgot my bags!” Yes, reusable bags are good for the environment, but they can also help you save money. In a number of states, customers have to pay for plastic and paper bags at checkout. So, skip the cost by bringing your own!
Solution: Store them where you can see them.
This fix is easy — instead of storing your reusable grocery bags in the back of the closet, put them by the door where you can see them. You can also keep a few bags in your car so that you always have them.
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3. Not Earning Cash Back
You can actually earn cash back on your weekly grocery haul. Here at CouponCabin, we offer cash back at local grocery stores like Albertsons, Jewel Osco and Stop & Shop. The only catch is that you have to shop online. But if you’re ordering $200 worth of food at a store with 20% cash back, you can get $40 back.
Solution: Sign up for CouponCabin.
Our cash back program is free and easy to use. Once you’re a member, you’ll be able to earn cash back on everyday purchases at more than 6,000 stores, including your weekly grocery hauls.
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4. Not Getting Curbside Pickup
Check to see if your grocery store offers free curbside pickup. There’s nothing better than having your online order brought out to your car.
Currently, Walmart offers free curbside pickup for orders over $35. This is a great way to save time and money because you won’t be tempted to buy random items.
Solution: Ask about curbside pickup.
Ask your local grocery store if they offer curbside pickup, even if you shop at a small, neighborhood retailer. You might be surprised to find that they will load your groceries into your car for free.
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5. Not Making a Grocery List
Not making a grocery list will cause you to buy so many things you don’t need. Always come prepared with a list on shopping day. We suggest sitting down at the beginning of the week to take stock of everything you have in the pantry and come up with a few meal plans so that you don’t overbuy at the store.
Solution: Make list-making easy.
You don’t have to sit down with paper and pen in order to create a shopping list. Instead, keep a running list in the notes section of your phone so that you always have it with you. And remember — there’s nothing wrong with throwing a few extra items in your cart, especially if those items include chocolate.
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6. Shopping at the Wrong Times
Did you know that when you decide to go grocery shopping can affect your trip? According to Google Maps, Monday at 8 am is the best time to go grocery shopping because that is the least busy time for grocery stores. The busiest time for grocery stores is Saturday from noon to 3 pm.
Solution: Do your research.
Morning or night? Weekday or weekend? We have a whole blog post dedicated to the best time to go grocery shopping. You can even see when grocery stores restock to get the best selection of items.
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7. Shopping When You’re Hungry
You’ve probably heard this one before, but it’s true. If you head to the grocery store on an empty stomach, you’re probably going to end up buying a bunch of items you don’t really need.
Solution: Have a snack.
We get it — sometimes you’re way too busy to have a full meal before going to the grocery store. That’s why we suggest keeping a snack on hand for moments like these. Chowing down on a granola bar before you head into Whole Foods will keep you from buying every item at the hot bar.
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8. Taking Brand Loyalty Too Far
Everyone has their favorite brand of oat milk, pasta sauce and deli meat. However, if your brand loyalty is causing you to overspend, you may want to rethink things. There are some product swaps out there that will help you save money without realizing much difference in taste.
Solution: Find tasty alternatives.
If you notice that another brand is much cheaper than your preferred brand, give it a try. You might be surprised to find that the taste is basically the same, but the price is much lower.
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9. Thinking Delivery Is Too Expensive
Yes, technically speaking, shopping in-store is usually less expensive than getting your groceries delivered. But if you’re struggling to make it to the grocery store, it’s important to prioritize your time. Fortunately, grocery delivery doesn’t have to be the outrageous expense you think it is.
Solution: Save on delivery.
A number of services will offer free or discounted delivery on your first online order, including Instacart and Gopuff. You can create an account on multiple platforms to take advantage of the new user savings.
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How to Save at the Grocery Store
You won’t be making these common grocery store mistakes any longer! Thanks to our list of tips, you can save money at the grocery store every week.
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