How many times have you gone to a grocery store with the intent to buy three things but came out with a cart full of products that you really didn’t need? Call it impulse buying or a weak resolve, we are all guilty of making these common grocery shopping mistakes.
Almost all households have a separate budget for food and groceries. However, most of us fail to adhere to it. Moreover, due to the growing popularity of online shopping in Pakistan, people are bound to spend more money on things that they wouldn’t really buy under normal circumstances.
The thing is, your grocery shopping habits might be killing your wallet. Of course, you should not settle for subpar products that are available for cheap. But that doesn’t mean you should spend more than you had planned to during your weekly or bi-monthly trips to the store.
10 Common Grocery Shopping Mistakes to Avoid
Here are a few common shopping mistakes along with some food shopping tips that might help you save money on groceries.
Shopping On An Empty Stomach
It’s never a good idea to shop while hungry. In fact, it’s arguably one of the biggest grocery shopping mistakes that can ruin your entire budget. Being surrounded by rows upon rows of snacks and junk food items on an empty stomach is a recipe for disaster.
Therefore, if you have a habit of rushing to the grocery store after a long day at work, do yourself (and your waistline) favour by grabbing a quick meal before leaving the house. In case that’s not an option, munch on some nuts or chew a mint to kill hunger pangs and distract you from buying a few large packs of chips in the middle of shopping.
This is easily one of the top shopping mistakes to avoid.
2. Going To The Store Without A List
Going to store unprepared is yet another rookie mistake. In fact, going grocery shopping without a checklist is like appearing in an exam without studying for it. Making a list beforehand will not only ensure you don’t forget an important ingredient or product but also help you save money while shopping.
If you want to do grocery shopping on a budget, you need to be deliberate about what you put into your cart. Since most of us are easily swayed by alluring displays of unhealthy snacks, a checklist will also serve as a reminder that you shouldn’t be buying anything that’s not on the paper. You can even make a list on your phone if you think you might forget the checklist at home.
3. Ignoring The Lower Shelves
You might not realize this, but the placement of products on grocery store shelves plays a huge part in what you buy. Almost all stores place their most popular and relatively expensive products in the middle shelves as consumers usually just grab whatever is on the eye-level. Even if you make a grocery shopping checklist, you might still fall for this age-old trick and spend more money than you had initially planned to.
The best tip to save money on groceries is by checking out the products on higher and lower shelves. More often than not, you will be able to find cheaper alternatives with more or less the same ingredients and nutritional values.
Moreover, if you always buy a certain brand, it’s about time you start looking at other options that might be a little bit less expensive or have better ingredients.
4. Falling for Bulk Bargain Deals
This one’s a no brainer. Bulk bargain deals can sway even the best of us. However, you need to avoid making this common grocery shopping mistake by asking yourself a simple question: Would you buy this had this not been on sale? Not to mention, buying edible products in large quantities is almost never a good idea, especially if you don’t have a lot of mouths to feed. You will also be spending more money this way.
In addition to that, most of the times the products on sale are either nearing their expiration date or are not popular enough. Of course, you can stumble upon an incredible deal while grocery shopping, but that doesn’t happen too often.
5. Skipping The Frozen Food Section
Contrary to popular belief, there is no nutritional difference between fresh produce and the frozen kind that is available for a lot cheaper in the freezer section. Fresh fruits and vegetables are generally more expensive than the frozen ones – especially if they are not in the season. Fresh produce also doesn’t last as long.
If your wallet allows, you should most certainly go for the fresher options. However, if you want to do grocery shopping on a budget, do not skip the frozen food section. This is especially true if you love seafood. Fresh fish and shrimps cost a lot more than the frozen ones available in cardboard boxes and thick plastic bags. You can easily save money on groceries with this food shopping tip.
6. Starting In The Wrong Aisle
Going to the wrong aisle with an empty cart is yet another common grocery shopping mistake to avoid.
Once you get to the store, you need to start filling your basket or cart with the grocery items you have written down on your checklist. Make sure you don’t grab anything that’s not on the list. If you first load up your cart with fruits, vegetables, meat, flour and other home essentials, you won’t have much room to throw in unnecessary things such as few extra packs of ramen or an additional box of cookies.
Strategically planning out your entire trip to the store will not only help you save money while shopping but also do wonders for your overall health.
7. Making Too Many Short Trips To The Store
You need to limit your trips to the grocery store. If you’re visiting it more than once a week, it either means you don’t buy everything at once or that you simply don’t plan ahead. Fortunately, both of these costly grocery shopping mistakes can be avoided with a checklist. In addition to that, you might also want to plan your weekly meals in advance to save yourself the trouble.
Frequent trips to the store also open you up to more instances of impulse buying. Besides, the more you visit your local grocery store, the more you’ll be opening yourself to instances of impulse buying.
8. Impulse Buying
Don’t buy things just because they look good or are on sale. If you are taking a grocery shopping checklist to the store, stick to it and make sure there isn’t anything in your cart that’s not on the list. The same goes for the displays of chocolates and other candies near the check-out counter. Of course, treating yourself with a chocolate bar once in a while is perfectly fine, but if it is becoming more of a habit, you need to break it immediately.
Impulse buying is perhaps one of the biggest and most common shopping mistakes to avoid. However, it’s important to note where the advent of online shopping in Pakistan has made life a lot easier and convenient, it has also made things worse for impulsive buyers.
9. Not Signing Up For Reward Points
Almost all big grocery stores and supermarts have some sort of brand loyalty card that lets consumers earn points for every purchase they make. These reward points can come in handy as you can use those to get a discount. Since all businesses have different policies, the number of accumulated points might vary, but the idea is more or less the same.
If you haven’t signed up for the loyalty program, you must do it as soon as possible. In case your local grocery store doesn’t offer this service, you may want to consider switching to a bigger store in order to save money on groceries. If you live in Karachi, don’t forget to check out some of the best hypermarkets in the city for time-effective shopping and great discounts.
10. Forgetting To Double-Check The Receipts
How many of us pay attention to the cashier when he or she is busy ringing up our purchases? More often than not, we are either looking at our phones or are busy trying to look for our wallet or credit card. There is always a possibility of the cashier accidentally ringing in the same product more than once. This error can easily go unnoticed if you don’t have a habit of double-checking your receipts.
This common grocery shopping mistake can put a strain on your wallet, which is why you need to be extra careful while calculating the total once again yourself.
There you go, these easy food shopping tips will not help you save money on groceries but also improve your eating habits and maintain your household budget.