Biggest Supermarket Shopping Mistakes

Save money by avoiding theses pitfalls at the grocery store.

For many Americans, monthly grocery spending is eating up a big portion of their budgets. On average, a family of four spends up to $1,300 a month on the food they consume at home. To make matters worse, most are spending more than they need to because of mistakes they are making when shopping at the supermarket.

Here are three big mistakes that many supermarket shoppers make, as well as advice on how to avoid them:

A lot of people buy groceries week to week, which isn’t a smart way to take advantage of supermarket deals. These shoppers are often forced to pay full price for 50% to 80% of what goes in their carts. The better way to shop is to stock up on items you know you will always use when they go on sale. Store the surplus in your freezer or pantry. Also, plan your weekly purchases of perishable items around what’s on sale. Be sure to check weekly sales flyers or use an app such as Favado to see what’s on sale at your local stores before you shop.

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Most supermarkets provide the cost per unit of products on labels displayed on shelves. This is an easy way to get a true price comparison across brands and package sizes. If you don’t check the cost per unit, you might end up paying more for less product in the long run. For example, a container of name-brand orange juice might be on sale and appear to have a lower price than the store brand. But if the brand-name container is 59 ounces while the store brand is 64 ounces, the cost per unit can help you figure out which really is the better deal.

You don’t have to give up an entire weekend to clip coupons to use them. Many supermarket Web sites and apps let you load coupons directly to your store loyalty card. Also, remember that some products come with coupons already attached to their packaging that can be redeemed immediately at checkout. When it comes to using coupons, the biggest way to save is to use them when you purchase household and personal-hygiene products, which can be especially pricey.

This is just a start. Find out about even more supermarket mistakes to avoid the next time you are shopping for groceries.

Andrea Browne Taylor
Contributing Editor

Browne Taylor joined Kiplinger in 2011 and was a channel editor for covering living and family finance topics. She previously worked at the Washington Post as a Web producer in the Style section and prior to that covered the Jobs, Cars and Real Estate sections. She earned a BA in journalism from Howard University in Washington, D.C. She is Director of Member Services, at the National Association of Home Builders.