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7 Grocery Store Habits that Are Making You Broke

Feeling the pinch at the check-out line again? These tips will have you saving on food without cutting back on quality.

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It happens more often than I care to admit: I stumble to my car wondering how two bags of groceries set me back $40. After a particularly budget-busting grocery run last week, I got to thinking — maybe some of that sticker shock is less about rising food prices and more about my own bad habits. Let my humbling aha! moment save you some cash. Here are seven grocery store habits that are making you broke.

SEE ALSO FROM KIPLINGER: 10 Secrets Trader Joe's Shoppers Need to Know

1. Assuming coupons are always money-savers

Though it may sound like a sacrilege to some, coupons can often end up costing consumers more in long run. How? Well, they get shoppers to buy products we normally wouldn't buy, often require the purchase of multiple items in order to score the deal, and tend to be skewed toward prepackaged and heavily-processed foods. Skip the coupon-clipping. In most cases, generic or store-brand options will offer a far better and more consistent value. (See also from Wisebread.com: 5 Reasons Why I Don’t Clip Coupons)

2. Staying loyal to brands

While brand loyalty isn't always a bad thing, it's easy to take it to the extreme and cost yourself money. If you're shopping with blinders on, you're likely missing out on new and more competitive brands, significant product improvements, and great promotional deals. Shake things up every once in awhile. Explore what other brands and generics have to offer. (See also from Wisebread.com: How We Brainwash Ourselves Into Brand Loyalty)

SEE ALSO FROM KIPLINGER: 70 Time-Tested Tactics to Build Your Wealth

3. Ignoring expiration dates

Since I'm not a morning person, that first cup of coffee each day is more than a small pleasure — it's my oxygen. That's what makes the following anecdote all the more painful. One morning a few months ago, I opened up a brand-new container of half-and-half. Instead of pouring smoothly as expected, the contents plopped out with the consistency of cottage cheese. Yeah, eww. If only I'd checked the expiration date before buying it, I would have saved my morning and $2.99. Let my tragedy be a cautionary tale. Shop smart and always check expiration dates.

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4. Falling for clever packaging

Packaging food is a science unto itself. Clever packaging is designed to stimulate our senses, convey quality, and express the personality of a brand. While product presentation is difficult to ignore, don't let it override other important considerations such as ingredients, nutritional value, and unit price. After all, why pay more for cute packaging that just ends up in the recycling bin?

SEE ALSO FROM KIPLINGER: 15 Ways to Save on Groceries Without Clipping Coupons

5. Shopping when you're hungry

Grocery shopping on an empty stomach is a recipe (pardon the pun) for making bad food decisions. Remember, hungry is just one short step away from hangry. Both conditions make it much easier to buy more, eat more, and choose items that aren't as healthy. (See also from Wisebread.com: The Best and Worst Times to Go Grocery Shopping)

6. Buying pre-made foods

Ever notice that more and more grocery stores are transforming into mini food courts complete with full salad bars, panini stations, and even sushi counters? It's no accident. Stores know that convenience sells and busy people will pay a premium for pre-made food. If you're focused on your budget's bottom-line, don't let your grocery shopping routine turn into a pricey restaurant dining experience.

SEE ALSO FROM KIPLINGER: 8 Secrets Wegmans Shoppers Need to Know

7. Jumping on trends

Sure, that pomegranate-infused kombucha smoothie looks magical, but it's $6.99! Trendy food and beverage products are developed for only one reason: to ride the wave of popularity and cash in on consumer curiosity. Save money by sticking to the basics and not falling for temporary food trends that suck the money right out of your wallet.

This article is from Kentin Waits of Wise Bread, an award-winning personal finance and credit card comparison website.

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This article is from Wise Bread, not the Kiplinger editorial staff.