Here’s Why You’re Not Saving Money at the Grocery Store (Plus, All the Couponing Advice You Need to Know)

Grocery shopping is a hassle, but it’s necessary. And it can be even more of a hassle when you’re spending tons of money. But the reason you’re spending so much might not be the prices — it might be you. Below are 9 things you’re doing wrong at the grocery store.

Plus, check out some great couponing tips starting on page 11.

You’re buying fresh veggies instead of frozen

Grocery shop cart in supermarket filled up

Grocery shop cart in supermarket filled up with fresh and healthy food | CreativeNature_nl/Getty Images

Sometimes, you by fresh vegetables with the expectation of cooking up something delicious. But then life gets in the way, the recipe is never made, and you’re stuck with rotting vegetables and wasted money. Instead, buy frozen veggies. They are much longer lasting and work fine for most recipes. Plus, some studies suggest frozen veggies have even more nutrients than fresh.

Next: You’re making this unnecessary purchase. 

You’re purchasing unnecessary organic foods

Fresh organic farmers market fruit and vegetable

Organic market fruits and vegetables | Elenathewise/iStock/Getty Images

Science has mixed feelings about organic foods. Some studies have shown they’re better for you, while others have shown no connection between organic foods and a healthier you. Regardless, there are certain fruits and vegetables you don’t need to buy organic. That’s because their skins are so thick that pesticides couldn’t reach the inside of the fruit even if they wanted to. In that case, save money by purchasing those inorganic fruits and vegetables.

Next: You’re forgetting about the future. 

You’re only buying the meats you need for the week

men buying meat in grocery store

Packet of beef in supermarket | Noel Hendrickson/Getty Images

Beef is one of the most expensive items you can purchase at the food store. So when it’s on sale, it’s important to take advantage of it. Raw steak can be easily frozen, and its juices and moisture will remain intact. If your food store is having a sale on meat, always stock up. You might spend more in the moment, but you’ll save more in the long run.

Next: Make sure to take a good look at every section. 

You’re not browsing the entire store

shopping cart in a grocery store aisle

Shopping cart in grocery store | shironosov/iStock/Getty Images

Believe it or not, the price of the same item might be different in different sections of the store. MarketWatch says this is because different sections have different overhead prices, so items in those sections are more expensive. Instead of buying cheese in the specialty cheese section, buy it in the dairy section to save money. You likely won’t be able to tell the difference in taste between a specialty cheese and a dairy section cheese, but you’ll be able to see what you saved.

Next: The direction in which you shop matters. 

You’re shopping in the wrong direction

People shopping in a large supermarket

People shopping in a large supermarket | Ljupco/iStock/Getty Images

Supermarkets use many tricks to get you to spend more money. Stores’ entrances are often on the right side, which means you enter the store and shop from right to left. Since most people are right handed, grocery stores design their layouts so you’ll grab more items with your right hand, since it’s closer to the food when you’re shopping right to left. Instead, shop left to right, because then you’re less inclined to pick up things you don’t need.

Next: Music plays a surprising role. 

You forgot your headphones

closeup iphone and earphones or headphones device on table

Closeup of an iPhone and headphones on table | Blackzheep/iStock/Getty Images

Music also plays a role in shoppers’ methods without them realizing. Store music is often slow, which causes shoppers to saunter through and purchase more goods they don’t need. Instead, listen to upbeat music, such as pop, to get you moving throughout the store more quickly. This way, you’ll only shop for what you actually need. And if you’re focused on the song you’re listening to, you might not notice those distracting junk food sales.

Next: The number of times you shop makes a difference. 

You’re shopping too often

woman grocery shopping

Grocery shopping | iStock/Getty Images

It’s important that when you go to the store, you buy everything you need for the week. MarketWatch reported that those who shop more than once per week are likely to spend more money. Going to the store twice per week means you’ve doubled your chances of spending money on items you don’t need. Stick with once per week to get the most out of your shopping without going back for seconds.

Next: The day of the week during which you shop also matters. 

You’re shopping on the weekend

View of happy shop assistant with customer

Happy cashier with customer | leaf/iStock/Getty Images

According to a survey done by Ibotta, weekends are the most expensive time to shop. Instead, shop in the middle of the week. But the specific day depends on what you’re looking for. According to Today.com, Tuesdays are best for wine sales; Wednesdays are best for bread and beer; Thursdays are best for snack foods. Regardless of what you’re looking for, you’ll get a better deal during the week than on the weekend. Plus, you’ll avoid the weekend crowds.

Next: Creativity is key to saving money. 

You’re not getting creative with your meals

Grandmother cooking with granddaughter, rest of family talks in background

Family cooking together. | David Sacks/Getty Images

Wasted food means wasted money. Instead of throwing out foods you think you can’t use, work with them to come up with a creative recipe. Browse Pinterest for recipe ideas involving that one ingredient you’re not sure what to do with. Getting your money’s worth means using up everything you buy. Plus, less food waste is better for the environment.

Next: Here’s how much the average family spends on groceries — and why you might want to clip coupons. 

The average family spends anywhere from $7,600 to $15,000 per year on groceries

Family with children standing in supermarket

Family with children standing in supermarket | JackF/iStock/Getty Images

According to USA Today, the average family of four spends, on the low end, more than $7,000 per year on groceries. On the more liberal end, that number might reach $15,000. With that said, groceries are one of the most expensive costs a family can have, and they’re impossible to avoid. But luckily, couponing has become more and more popular. And getting on board with saving money doesn’t mean you need to be extreme about it. Even following easy techniques can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year.

Next: Try this next time you’re searching for coupons. 

Don’t get all your coupons from one place

senior cuts coupons

Cutting coupons | ConnieTBallash/iStock/Getty Images

When it comes to couponing, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Browse various newspapers because different newspapers might have different coupons. Plus, check the store’s website. In most cases, you can download the store’s app (or a couponing app) to your smartphone to browse coupons. This way, you’ll know you’ve gotten the best possible deals.

Next: Don’t always stick to this. 

Don’t always stick to the same store

woman shopping and choosing food

Woman shopping and choosing food | nd3000/iStock/Getty Images

Look elsewhere for good deals the same way you’d look elsewhere for good coupons. Sometimes, the store brand at one supermarket is cheaper overall than another supermarket’s store brand. Unless there is only one grocery store for miles, look at coupons for various stores to see which one would save you the most money. You could be spending $1.49 on an item you could get elsewhere for $1.29.

Next: This is a must if you want to get the most from your coupons. 

Organize your coupons so they don’t go to waste

coupons

Coupons | iStock/Getty Images

Clipping coupons is only half the battle. Then, you need to use them. But to make sure you don’t miss a deal or forget about a coupon, keep them organized in some way. Organizing them in a binder is the easiest way to do this. And keep track of them by date, so you’ll quickly use the ones that will expire the soonest.

Next: This will definitely save you money in the long run. 

Buy in bulk to save money in the long run

costco shopper

A Costco shopper pushes a cart. | Tim Boyle/Getty Images

If you’ve ever watched TLC’s Extreme Couponing, you know that serious couponers always buy in bulk. That’s because bulk often translates to cheaper individual prices. While you might spend more money at first, over the course of the year, you’ll reduce your overall grocery costs. Buying 10 rolls of paper towels instead of two might sound extreme, but buying in bulk could help save you hundreds of dollars per year.

Next: Don’t get discouraged if this happens. 

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t save hundreds overnight

Happy Man Handing Credit Card to Cashier in Supermarket

Portrait of happy young man handing credit card to smiling cashier | SeventyFour/Getty Images

Again, couponing will save money in the long run, but it might not seem worth the time and effort at first. Saving $10 on your grocery bill doesn’t seem like much, but multiply that by 52 weeks, and you’ve got $520 back in your pocket at the end of the year. Don’t worry if couponing doesn’t save you hundreds overnight. Over time, the money-saving tactics will add up.

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