Learning how to reduce your grocery bill is one of the fastest ways to start fixing the entire family budget. Since groceries are not a fixed expense like your mortgage or rent, it’s possible to tweak your shopping habits in order to reduce the amount you’re spending on groceries each week/month.
If staying on budget or lowering your grocery budget is your goal, you’ll want to read on to learn how to fix your bad habits. Are you committing any of these grocery shopping faux pas?
Here are 10 Ways to Ruin Your Grocery Budget:
1. Go to the store several times each week.
I’m guilty of this one more times than I’d like to admit! Going to the grocery store more than once a week can be a real grocery budget killer. After all, going to the store for “just a few things” almost always means you’ll be picking up more than “just a few things” because admittedly, grocery stores have enticing sales and products. So by sticking to shopping once a week you can avoid many impulse purchases, especially if you’re prepared with a list and meal plan.
2. Go to the store around meal times or when you’re hungry.
One of the golden rules of grocery shopping on a budget is to never shop when you’re hungry. Trying to stick to a grocery list when you’re hungry is nearly impossible. Soon you’ll find bags of chips or expensive granola bars hopping into your cart because they’re easy to eat as soon as you get to the car. The best course of action is to shop right after you’ve eaten a good size meal.
3. Don’t plan a menu
I’m a firm believer that planning a menu each week is a big key to sticking to your budget. When you have a plan laid out, you will know exactly what you need to buy at the grocery store in order to execute the meals you have chosen. That way, if something jumps into your cart that isn’t needed, it’s easier to put it back in order to stay within budget because you know that your eating needs are met with your meal plan.
Need an easy way to menu plan? See how I put our menu planning on autopilot.
4. Never use a list
Going hand in hand with planning a menu, creating a grocery list is crucial to staying within your budget. I keep a running grocery list on our fridge so I can write down pantry items that I need to replace as soon as the item runs out. As I’m planning our menu for the week, I grab the list from the fridge and jot down everything I need to buy to complete each meal. Sometimes my list is small because I have many items already on hand in the cupboards thanks to some sales in previous weeks on staples.
You can see my Basic Pantry Staples list here.
5. Don’t bother looking at the store flyers for sales.
Reviewing the grocery store flyers and noting what is on sale will save you tons of money. Especially when you buy the sale items and then plan your menu around them. Over time as you regularly buy items that are on sale and stock up on them as much as you can, you’ll always be eating “cheap” food, and your grocery budget will be very happy.
6. Take the kids with you.
Kids can be pretty good negotiators (at least mine can!), especially if you want to be as fast as you possibly can in the grocery store. Sometimes it’s really tempting to buy them something (anything!) just so they’ll be quiet. Even if it’s something little, it all adds up and may not be a good healthful choice.
7. Don’t take inventory of what you already have on hand.
Buying unneeded items can be wasteful. Especially if they’re fresh items that can spoil. Take a few minutes to review what you already have in your pantry and fridge and you can save hundreds of dollars each year.
8. Don’t pay attention as the cashier is processing your purchase.
Put down the trashy magazine and pay attention to what is being rung through. I was recently charged for two watermelons when I had only bought one. Thankfully, I noticed and it was fixed right away. But imagine if each week there was an error on your bill, that could add up to hundreds of dollars that were literally spent on nothing. So do yourself a favour and pay attention as the cashier is processing your purchase. Also, if you bought items on sale, watch closely, you may get several items for free if they scanned wrong since many stores have a scanning code of practice.
9. Throw the food into the fridge without any rhyme or reason.
By taking the time to carefully put your perishables away and dividing items you bought in bulk into smaller portions will save you money in the long run. Washing and storing produce properly will make it last longer in your refrigerator. Make sure you have designated spots for each item so you can easily find your purchases, or your grocery budget will be wasted on moldy, forgotten items.
10. Throw away leftovers.
Not a fan of eating leftovers? Well, that will have to stop if you want to lower your budget! If you’re throwing away leftovers, you’re almost literally throwing your money in the garbage too. There are plenty of recipes online that can help you reinvent leftovers into something tasty. Maybe it’s not that you don’t like leftovers, maybe you simply forgot they were there. One solution is to put leftovers in clear containers with a dated label so you can visually see what’s there.
Check out these 7 Ways to Make the Most of Leftovers.
Are you guilty of any of these grocery budget mistakes? I know that I am. It’s constantly a work in progress for me! But knowing where you’re making mistakes is half the battle to getting your budget on track. Knowing the ways in which we’re ruining our grocery budget allows us to focus on one area to fix at a time. Baby steps 🙂