Most people hate grocery shopping, myself included. Grocery shopping is never just as easy as making a list, perusing the dry food aisles, and then buying the items you have written down — there is a lot more to it than that, and not everyone fully understands what it takes to be an efficient food shopper. There are extremely common grocery shopping mistakes that way too many people are making, and chances are, they are costing you money. Sure, you might be a boss at avoiding the inner aisles with all of their processed carbs and added sugar, but you could be doing a whole lot more for your health and your grocery budget by making a few additional shopping tweaks.
Of course, if you do make the following common mistakes, it's not the end of the world. You are not going to drop dead after spending a few dollars more on that chopped broccoli instead of chopping it yourself at home. But much like the art of contouring, or trying your hand at stand-up comedy, a subtle adjustment could mean the difference between wild success and epic failure. Here are classic grocery shopping mistakes to watch out for, so that you can kick major butt during your next weekly trip to the store:
1. Shopping Hungry
This one is obvious. If you don't find something to snack on before you walk through those sliding doors, you can count on a flurry of bad decisions and many WTF reactions when you go home and unpack everything.
2. Only Buying Brand Names
Some items don't taste the same in their store-brand form. But when it comes to spices or other ingredients that you're only using a dash or pinch of, don't buy the big brand version. You won't notice the difference between the $5 pepper, and the $.50 pepper, so save the $4.50 and go with the cheaper version.
3. Not Shopping Sales
In order to get the most from your grocery budget, flexibility is key. Shop the fruit and produce that are in-season, even if you were more in the mood for a winter veggie and it's still summer. In terms of fresh food, steer towards the sales.
4. Buying More Than You Can Actually Eat
We are a nation of food wasters. It's appalling, really, when you think about all the items in your fridge that you had every intention of eating, but you just let sit on the shelf until it went bad. Evaluate how much food you actually eat in a week, and don't buy more than that.
5. Wasting Your Freezer Space
Fresh food is always better, but frozen is still usually pretty good. I'm not talking about the heavily processed frozen dinners that taste like they were recently a solid block of ice. I'm talking about all the stuff you can cook, freeze, and then reheat yourself to make food last longer. That goes for meat, fruit, herbs, and any soups or casseroles you cook.
6. Choosing Pre-Cut Produce
Buying pre-cut fruits and veggies is way more convenient, of course, but the mark-up is ridiculous. Unless you are on your way to a picnic, buy the uncut strawberries and lettuce, and chop them up at home.
7. Shopping Sugar-Blind
It's nearly impossible to avoid sugar altogether. But while some products (basically all fruit) have natural sugar, you can easily avoid items with added sugar. Why do you need the artificially sweetened vanilla almond milk when you can buy the unsweetened kind, and add a few drops of vanilla at home? I mean.... right?
8. Not Having A Plan
Wandering aimlessly through the aisles of a grocery store is almost as dangerous as shopping hungry. You'll be pulled in by the irresistibility of pasta salad at the deli, and overpriced condiments that sound like they come from exotic places, but are actually bottled in a factory somewhere in the Midwest. Know what you're going to eat the following week, and stick to it.
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