By Clare Kumar (@streamlife)
Going to the grocery store is an unavoidable reality. We all do it, but are we doing it well? These are some of the most common mistakes people make when it comes to going grocery shopping.
MISTAKE 1: AVOIDING THE WEEKEND
Though many purposely avoid shopping on weekends because of the crowds, the reality is shopping on weekends does have its benefits. The stores are working at high-efficiency with fully staffed checkout lanes PLUS the crowds actually help you get out of the store with only what you need, spending only what you need to. Think about it – who wants to spend more time than necessary in a crowded aisle? When the store is empty, you’re more apt to spend and buy more than you need. Added bonus: there are also more sales on weekends.
MISTAKE 2: NOT KNOWING WHEN THE STORE RESTOCKS
There are likely certain days when you go in the grocery store and notice things are really picked over. On days closer to the re-stock day, there is poor selection, especially for things like fish. You want to know on what day those sorts of things are stocked, so you can go in and buy the freshest of what you want to buy, when you want to buy it. On days just ahead of re-stock day you may opt for secondary options that are less healthy or more expensive.
MISTAKE 3: GOING ON MASS SHOPPING TRIPS
A lot of food that’s perishable (i.e. like veggies/fruit) is only ideal for a very few number of days. If you overbuy veggies, you end up with brown or soggy veggies. In other words, obvious food waste. It’s much smarter cost-wise and waste-wise to buy five bananas twice a week rather than 10 all at once. Using the biggest carts available is another related mistake, for the same reason it’s suggested you use a smaller plate if you want to eat less. If you have a large cart, you’re far more inclined to fill it, thus you'll buy things you don’t need and spend unnecessary money.
MISTAKE 4: NOT UNDERSTANDING THE “BEST BEFORE” DATE
It’s valuable for you to read and understand the “Best Before” date so you don’t buy something and get it home only to have to throw it out in three days. It's also important to acknowledge that the “Best Before” date indicates freshness, not how safe the food actually is to eat. Being a slave to the “Best Before” date will cause you to waste food. In fact, according to one Harvard study, it contributes to millions of pounds of wasted food each year. You should, however, be stringent about adhering to expiry dates, which are found on things like baby food and medication (i.e. things that weaken over time).
MISTAKE 5: BEING AFRAID TO RE-ARRANGE PRODUCE
Being afraid to do this will lead to overbuying, especially in a one or two person household. Five pounds of grapes are unnecessary for most people. That said, don’t be afraid to separate and take only what you need. Some stores even cut it for you, though make sure you check; some will charge you for this service.
MISTAKE 6: NOT MAKING A LIST
If you do something and haven’t thought it through, how well do you do it? Not well. Grocery shopping is same way. Lists are crucial when it comes to saving money and reducing waste and the good news is you don’t even have to hand write them yourselves. There are some great lists you can buy that are divided up by grocery store section OR you can use apps. Remember the Milk is a great one! Remember, you should be driving the cart, it shouldn’t be driving you.
Find more from Clare on her website, www.streamlife.ca.