How To Stop Throwing Away Thousands Of Dollars In Groceries Every Year
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on MadameNoire September 1, 2016.
Did you know that the average family throws out around $2,000 in groceries each year? Factor in the number of times you end up ordering in because there’s nothing in the fridge, and you can probably double it the amount of money you spend on food.
Groceries might not be the biggest expense on your list, but who couldn’t use an extra grand or more in a vacation fund or savings account? Especially when it’s as easy as finding a way to throw away less each week?
Whether it’s shopping when we’re hungry or buying veggies we know we won’t eat, there are things we can all change about our shopping habits. Make these tweaks the next time you grab a cart and you can get in and out of the store faster and spend less. Here are the ways we throw away thousands of dollars in grocery money every year.
We Head to the Grocery Store While We’re Out
We head to the store without checking what we already have in the fridge. The best way to avoid coming home to find that you do have milk after all? If going to the grocery store is on your to-do list for the day, take a photo of what’s in the fridge and pantry before you leave so you will know what you have before you go shopping.
Not Sticking to the List
Picking up whatever looks good is a fun way to shop. However, it’s also a good way to end up with two different kinds of ice cream but a whole lot of nothing for breakfast. Make a list and stick to it and you won’t waste money on impulse buys (or time and gas on return trips for things you forgot).
Going to the Store Hungry
It’s a good way to end up with everything on your list plus three bags of chips, a container of roasted chicken and a dozen of whatever it was that smelled delicious in the baked goods section.
Not Buying Prechopped
Sure, prechopped vegetables are more expensive. But if you never do vegetable prep when you get home (and those veggies end up rotting in the back of the drawer because you don’t feel like chopping them), it can really save you money and time.
A lot of the time, the generic goods have the same thing inside as your favorite brand name product. A little trial and error here and there can let you know which store-brand products are worth the savings.
You Don’t Take Advantage of the Frozen Food Section
Frozen vegetables are not only prepared (and frozen at the peak of freshness), but they also don’t go bad before you get to them. And meat is around $1 per pound cheaper when you buy it frozen.
You Don’t Plan out Your Meals
Just a few minutes spent mapping out Monday through Friday can make putting together your shopping list a lot easier. Another pro tip? Prep those ingredients on the weekend after you buy them. You can throw them on the stove when you get home and you’ll be less likely to order in because you don’t have a lot of time to cook.
Buying Everything Organic
No one likes pesticides. But fruits and vegetables with thick skin — like avocados, bananas and grapefruit — have natural protection against chemicals. Just rinse them off and peel them and they’ll be just as safe as the more expensive organic version.
Not Giving Your Cart a Second Look
If you find yourself coming home with impulse buys you really didn’t need (and that go bad in the fridge), take a second look in your cart before you check out. Take out things you’re second-guessing and you will save quite a bit of money each trip.
Not Checking Your Receipt
Cashiers make mistakes all of the time, from sale prices that didn’t go show up to items that were scanned more than once. Keep an eye out.
Shopping During the Week
Grocery stores are ridiculously busy during the weekend. However, they’re also the best times to take advantage of in-store sales and last-minute deals.
Buying Things Just Because They’re on Sale
If you don’t need it and probably won’t eat it, even 90 percent off is not worth it.
Buying Single Serve
Single bags of chips can cost you twice as much as just putting a serving of the big bag into a sandwich bag to take to lunch.
Not Comparing Prices
Especially when there’s an app for that. Scan what you buy the most and you could find that you could be getting everything cheaper right down the street.