4 Reasons You Keep Wasting Money at the Supermarket

It’s time to end this cycle.

Key points

  • Food costs are up more than 10% over the previous year.
  • It pays to try to save money when buying groceries.
  • Some habits (like not planning your meals ahead of time) can actually lead you to waste money rather than spending less—and those are habits worth breaking.

If you’ve noticed that your credit card bills are much higher these days than they were a year ago, rising food costs are partly to blame. Food costs rose 10.4% compared to the previous year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We can thank the general trend of inflation for this.

But that’s not the only reason you might be spending extra at the supermarket these days. The reality is that certain habits commonly lead consumers to waste money when shopping for groceries rather than save it. Here are a few such habits worth breaking if they apply to you.

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1. You don’t look at expiration dates

It is not illegal for supermarkets to sell goods with different expiry dates. But if you’re not careful, you can buy perishable goods with an expiration date in three days when there are others on the shelf with five times the expiration date. Take a few seconds to read these labels so you don’t have to throw away food because of spoilage.

2. You don’t spend a few minutes loading digital coupons

Although it is common for supermarkets to send out physical circulars by post, many coupons these days are digital. And if you don’t spend a few minutes each week loading digital coupons onto your store loyalty card, you could be missing out on big savings and sales.

Of course, some stores don’t require you to clip or load coupons to save. Trader Joe’s, for example, doesn’t even have a store card because it likes to make its low prices available to everyone. But many supermarkets won’t give you a discount if you don’t load the coupon, so it’s worth taking the time to do this.

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3. You don’t plan your meals ahead

You might pick up a batch of ingredients on a whim and think you’re going to cook a nice meal. But if your family members refuse to eat it, you may end up throwing food – and your money – away. Instead, plan your meals as a group to guide your shopping decisions.

4. You don’t buy things you use regularly in bulk

Buying meat, dairy and produce in bulk can sometimes be risky. But if you regularly consume durable staples in your household, then there’s no reason not to stock up on them in bulk, provided you can afford to spread the extra cash and have the space to store them.

And believe it or not, you don’t necessarily need a Sam’s Club or Costco membership to shop in bulk. Take a walk around your average supermarket and you’ll likely come across a variety of items that you can buy in bulk.

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With food costing so much money, the last thing you want is to waste yours. Try to avoid these habits so you can reduce your spending at the supermarket – and save more money for other purposes.

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