Most people rush through the grocery store, hurrying to get home and on to the much more fun parts of food: cooking and eating.
But rush too much, and you could be making a lot of mistakes in your hurry.
Here's what to watch for.
Making a grocery list can make shopping less painful in more than one way.
Not only can making a list before you shop save you money, but it can also help you save time.
"What are you thinking?"
"Well, we should strike now while we got the element of surprise."
A list can help you save money because it helps eliminate impulse purchases.
And if you organize your list by aisle, you're not going to be doing all that backtracking for one forgotten item.
And making your list isn't as time-consuming as you might think.
Just keep a magnetized list on the fridge and write down what you need throughout the week, then simply grab and go when it's time to head to the store.
Organize your list by store section, and don't forget to note how much of each item you need.
This will help prevent over- or underbuying, saving you pantry space and trips to the store.
When was the last time you grabbed a sanitizing wipe and gave your grocery cart handle a quick clean?
It may seem paranoid, but the truth is that after being handled by different people all day, those carts can pick up a lot of germs.
One Chicago-area study found that 70 percent of shopping carts tested contaminated traces of E. coli.
And another study found that shopping carts had more bacteria than public restrooms.
What kind of bacteria?
Contaminants from raw meat and, well...
"That's your name? Mr. Poop?"
"Schrute. Mr. Schrute."
"Sure, Mr. Poop."
Thankfully, a quick swipe with a sanitary wipe will help eliminate most of these germs.
Just make sure to wash your hands when you get home to get rid of any lingering bacteria.
We all have a favorite grocery store, but it turns out that exploring your options can be a better bet in the long run if you're looking to save money.
By shopping around, you can get the best deals on all of the products you need.
While your usual grocery store might have the best deals on meat, another store in the area might have better deals on produce.
And still another might sell paper goods and cleaning supplies for less.
It might take a little extra time to visit these other locations, but the savings can definitely make it worth it.
People often bemoan the high cost of produce, but there's an easy way to keep your budget in check when purchasing fruits and vegetables: buy what's in season.
You can often find much better deals on your favorite fruits and vegetables when they're growing abundantly and the supply is outstripping the demand.
And you're going to have a much better selection of individual items to choose from.
You may even want to consider buying fresh foods when they are in season and inexpensive, and then freezing them to use throughout the year.
You'll get cost savings and preserve the nutritional profile of your ingredients.
And this could even be cheaper than just buying the frozen version from the store.
More and more places are either banning single-use plastic bags, or have started charging for them, which means that you're probably already aware that it's a good idea to keep a reusable bag or two in your car for last-minute shopping trips.
Some stores will even offer you some sort of discount for bringing your own bags.
And over a few years of shopping that amount can definitely add up.
It's also just environmentally sound.
It's estimated that the average family goes through about 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year.
And 100 billion plastic bags are sent to landfills in America each year.
If you want to do your part for Mother Earth, switching to reusable bags is an easy place to start.
Think of all the space you'll save when you don't need to reserve an entire cabinet for scrunched up, used plastic bags.
We all know that you can't judge a book by its cover, but did you know that the same can be said for the private label brands at the grocery store?
Private label brands and generic products tend to cost less than name-brand, and be pretty similar in terms of quality.
They're so good, in fact, that these brands are on the upswing.
A lot of stores have their own brands now that pay the same care and attention to packaging as the name brands.
And 63 percent of consumers agree that generics are getting more innovative in their offerings.
By making the switch to store-brand products, you'll be saving money and eating just as well as before.
Did you know that shopping while hungry can cause you to buy things that you don't actually need?
Studies have shown that when you're hungry, tired, or stressed, you're willing to spend more than usual on food.
That's because your body produces something called ghrelin when you're feeling that way.
And that so-called hunger hormone has been found to increase what you're willing to pay for food.
Other studies have shown that hungry shoppers make less nutritious food choices.
In fact, shopping while hungry, stressed, or tired can result in adding 23 percent more processed junk foods to your cart than you usually would.
Don't be hangry (hungry + angry).
Have a snack before you head to the store.
And try to schedule your shopping trips on the day of the week when you tend to be well-rested and less stressed.
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