Special Report

Signs That You Spend Way Too Much Money on Food Shopping

Source: PeopleImages / Getty Images

1. You shop without a grocery list

The grocery list is a wonderful invention, whether it’s on a scrap of paper or on your tablet or smartphone. It’s a good way to stop yourself from buying food you don’t need or probably won’t use. As a bonus, it can also save you time because you can group food types — produce, dairy, meat and poultry, etc. — together so you don’t have to wander up and down the same aisles again and again.

Source: undefined undefined / Getty Images

2. You don’t plan your meals before you shop

Whether or not you write up a grocery list, you should always have at least a rough idea of what you’re going to be cooking or eating in the coming days. Your plans don’t have to be specific; a rough idea will do. But mapping out the meals you think you’ll want to make in the immediate future, however vaguely, will keep you from buying things you’re not going to use, or from ending up with too much of something that actually is on the menu.

Source: SDI Productions / Getty Images

3. You shop hungry

Big mistake. When you’re hungry, everything looks good, even if it’s not on your list or in your plans. Supermarkets depend on their customers making impulse buys and use many tricks to accomplish this goal (see No. 4, for example). If you walk into the treasure house of food products that is the modern supermarket with a raging appetite, you’re just making it easier for them to tempt you into putting things you don’t really need or want into your cart.

4. You buy items at the ends of grocery aisles

That’s just what the markets want you to do. End-of-aisle displays, called “end caps,” are shopper magnets. The whole idea is that if they make certain products stand out, the shopper will think they’re something special and be unable to resist. The strategy works: According to one survey, products in those positions sell eight times faster than the same item on a regular shelf.

Source: alle12 / Getty Images

5. You buy only organic produce

People buy organic produce to avoid the pesticide residue that coats many fruits and vegetables. According to the Environmental Working Group, strawberries, spinach, and kale are among the worst offenders, so it’s worth spending the extra bucks to get those in their organic form. On the other hand, the EWG also publishes a list of the “Clean Fifteen” — produce on which little if any pesticide residue is detected. Avocados, corn, pineapples, and more are on the list and there’s simply no reason to buy organic versions of these items if they cost more than the non-organic ones, which they almost always do.

Sponsored: Tips for Investing

A financial advisor can help you understand the advantages and disadvantages of investment properties. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Investing in real estate can diversify your portfolio. But expanding your horizons may add additional costs. If you’re an investor looking to minimize expenses, consider checking out online brokerages. They often offer low investment fees, helping you maximize your profit.