Seven Mistakes You’re Making at the Supermarket

Love it or hate it, the weekly grocery expedition is an essential chore. It’s also way harder than you think to get out of there without getting robbed to some degree of blindness.

Here are some of the worst mistakes you’re making, and how to tackle your weekly shop and come out on top.

Shopping When Hungry

If you’re anything like me, being hangry (hungry+angry) will turn you from a pretty normal, well-functioning adult into an indecisive, short-tempered child. This leads to terrible decisions, like devouring a whole packet of Tim Tams at 3pm or pushing ‘send’ on that passive aggressive email.

One of the worst mistakes shoppers can make is entering a supermarket on an empty stomach. Not only will the hanger make it a miserable, frustrating experience, but research has found you’ll actually spend more on impulse, high calorie buys.

The Gretchen Swanson Centre for Nutrition in Nebraska found people who hadn’t eaten all afternoon chose more high-calorie foods than those who were given a snack just before food shopping. Looks like there’s a reason why all the good stuff is right at the register.


Falling For Marketing Tactics

Two for one, or six for $2 deals can be good, if you actually need more of a particular item. But just because something is on sale doesn’t mean it’s always the best deal. Lift up the sale price to see the original price and determine how much of a saving you’re really making.

A lot of the deals and sales displayed are just clever marketing ploys. Beware of things like product location. Just because crackers on sale are strategically placed near the cheese section doesn’t mean you need the cheese too, or that they’re the cheapest crackers.

Not Checking Cost Per Unit

Supermarkets are required to display unit pricing and it should be easy to see on shelf price labels and promotional signs, as well as online listings and catalogue advertisements. And it’s well worth your wallet taking the time to compare items on unit price.

For example, if one laundry detergent costs $7.62 for a 2.5 litre bottle, its unit price is $3.05 per litre. If another detergent costs $5.74 for a 1.5 litre bottle, its unit price is $3.83 per litre, making the first bottle cheaper.


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Paying Full Price For Meat

Whether you’re shopping at a supermarket or local butcher, it pays to buy discounted meat and freeze it for later.

Buying meat in bulk when it’s on sale will save you a ton of money over the long term. Don’t forget to ask the butcher to break down a larger cut of meat into different chops and roasts so your dollar goes further and there’s no food wastage.


Pic: Let’s hope Lady Gaga got this meat on sale. Source: Eonline.

Failing To Plan

Shopping without a list and without any idea of recipes for the week ahead will only end in disaster. It means you’ll be flying blind and will be more vulnerable to the shiny sale sign on items you don’t need.

Last time I went shopping without a list I walked out with a laminator, a 2kg bag of lollies and an eyelash curler. So plan the meals you’ll be cooking over the week ahead, check for ingredients or substitutes already in the cupboard, and hit the supermarket armed with a list.

Once everything has been crossed off, it’s time to go home.

Using A Trolley Instead Of A Basket

The bigger the bag, the more stuff you’re likely to fill it with. The same rule applies for food shopping. For a small shop, picking up a trolley instead of a basket at the supermarket entrance will only leave you spending more money on unnecessary extra bits and pieces.

A basket gets full very quickly and carrying it on one arm makes it easy to think twice about the second jar of pesto. So ditch the ankle-bashing self-steering trolleys for a basket, it’ll be a much calmer experience.


Next Up: Six Savings Strategies You Know You Should Follow (But Probably Don’t) 


Main pic: Bunny Hero via Flickr.