How often do you go grocery shopping and come back with missing items or those you can’t use? Take a look at these common errors, and revamp your plan for your next trip.


Here’s a statistic that probably won’t surprise you: food is one of the top 3 things Americans spend their money on (along with housing and transportation) according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

But the real question becomes: are we making the most of this ginormous food budget?

According to this study by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), we’re not.

Unless, of course, you think that throwing away about $2,000 worth of food each year per household of four is efficient. The NRDC states that a lack of planning and impulse purchases are some of the most common reasons to blame for this waste.

Here are 5 mistakes you may be making before going grocery shopping that can lead to waste AND how you can fix them.

Mistake #1: Forgetting to plan.

Every grocery shopper’s famous last words: “I’ll just wing it.” We all know how that ends up: you’ll waste your time and money at the grocery store by dilly-dallying in the aisles trying to: A) decide what to eat this week, and B) remember what ingredients you need to make it (and let’s be honest, you’ll probably forget at least 3).

Spend just 15 minutes planning out a few meals you plan to have for the week to get a general idea of what you might be eating.

Mistake #2: ‘Winging it’ at the store.

Not making a list is a mistake that many of us have all made. “Winging it” without a list (even if you have a rough idea of what you want to eat that week) can lead to you:

  1. Purchasing items you forgot you already had
  2. Not purchasing items you actually need
  3. Wasting money on items that you don’t actually need.

Once you plan out your meals, organize your grocery list for your trip to the grocery store.

Mistake #3: Seek your kitchen.

Remember that last time you’ve purchased marinara sauce only to discover you already have two jars in your pantry?

Before you head to the store, give your kitchen a quick scan and “seek” out any items that you may already have or those that need to be restocked.

Mistake #4: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Don’t forget to bring your reusable grocery bags to the store! We all know reusing items is an environmentally-friendly practice, and it starts by reduce the use of plastic and paper bags in the first place. Remember, it still takes energy to make, store, and ship those bags! Here’s why reusable bags are better in the long run:

1. They’re stronger – No more broken handles!

2. They can carry more groceries – This means having fewer bags you need to haul from your car.

3. They’re easier to store – That means no more wasted time folding paper bag after paper bag or adding to your massive collection of plastic bags.

Mistake #5: Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

Shopping on an empty stomach is a disaster waiting to happen, even if you have a list. The grumbling of your tummy will get in the way of making sound decisions, and you’ll spend more money on things you don’t need.

Before you go shopping, enjoy a meal or snack that has a source of carbs, protein, and fat – this combination will help you stay satisfied longer. A good example of this is toast or fruit (carbs) and nut butter (protein + fat). If you don’t have time to eat before shopping, head to the snack bar aisle and grab your favorite bar to enjoy while you shop.

Go out there, and turn those mistakes into wins!

Adapted from the original article.

Paige Foote, RD is a Los Angeles-based registered dietitian with passion for encouraging others to feel positive about themselves and the food on their plate. She loves to help others feel like they are capable of anything by sharing why eating well doesn’t have to be complicated or intimidating.  Learn more about Paige at Yeah Girl! Nutrition.


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