Food prices are on the rise, and grocers’ profit margins are slim. So it’s no surprise that they’ll do anything they can to get you to fork over your hard-earned cash. Overspending, wasting food, and making unhealthy choices certainly makes shareholders happy, but it leaves the rest of us with regret, empty wallets and expanding waistlines. It doesn’t have to be that way — a long as you know what to look for.
Are you making these big grocery store mistakes? Read on to find out.
1. Mistake: Snubbing the Salad Bar.
The salad bar may seem like a money pit for the lazy, but smart shoppers know that it’s a great resource for small purchases and a fantastic way to avoid food waste. Stocking up at the salad bar will save you big versus buying the same product off the shelf. Your best bets? Shredded cheddar, dried cranberries, blue cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and walnuts.
2. Mistake: Not Knowing the Stocking Schedule.
Though it does vary by store, most grocers get the bulk of their deliveries mid-week. Ask your grocer about delivery schedules to ensure your food is as fresh as possible.
3. Mistake: Being Blinded by Buzzwords.
That carton of juice says, “no added sugars” but that doesn’t necessarily make it healthy. Don’t be fooled by the buzzwords — “low carb!” “fat free,” “natural” etc. on the front of packages. The place to find nutritional information is on the nutrition label, not the front of the package.
4. Mistake: Not Digging for the Freshest Food.
Sure, you might spend some time looking for the perfect bunch of bananas, but do you compare the sell-by dates for loaves of bread or gallons of milk? With multiple deliveries a week, most grocery stores have a range of freshness even among the same products.
5. Mistake: Not Knowing the Prices Of Your Go-To Items.
A common grocery store tactic is to up the prices of a particular product for a week, then, the next week, put the item on “sale” — even though it’s the same price it was just two weeks before! Keep a running list of how much your favorite items should set you back. That way, you’ll know if you’re actually getting a deal.
And, hey, think of how well you’ll do on The Price is Right!
6. Mistake: Shopping at the Wrong Time.
Want to beat the crowds, get the best deals, and the freshest products? Try grocery shopping on Wednesdays before the dinnertime rush. For many grocers, Wednesday is the start of the discount and coupon programs for the week, and it’s also a big day for product deliveries.
Skip the store when you’re hungry (so you won’t be tempted) and when you’re totally stuffed (so you’ll actually want to buy things). Avoid a trip to the store post-workout, too.
7. Mistake: Grabbing a Huge Cart.
Research shows that the bigger the cart, the more likely you are to want to fill it. So what do grocers do? Well, they make bigger and bigger carts available to customers. If you can, use a basket instead of a cart to avoid unnecessary temptations.