Grocery Spill: How you’re wasting money on food

Talk of saving money usually comes with it the incentive to center on expenses that you can afford to live without, products and services that you wouldn’t consider a “need,” but rather a “want.”

You might be surprised that most items fall under the “want” list more so than the “need,” such as housing, transportation, utilities and clothing (although that doesn’t mean you can shop till you drop every weekend).

One item also belonging on the list of “needs” is food, but that doesn’t mean you can’t overspend and waste on that particular purchase. Just because an item falls under the “need” category doesn’t mean it can’t be adjusted to still be fulfilled but at a price point that makes more sense.

For example, you can have transportation to and from a bevy of destinations but nothing that says it has to be a new car, priced at twice as much as a used one.

The same could be said for food, since everyone knows that spending money on food is a necessity, but at what degree does it become excessive?

You can look at the great food debate from several angles, starting with the most obvious: grocery store food versus take out or eating out at restaurants. This is quite simply double dipping at its finest, since the average household spends about $400 per month on grocery store food, but still spends about that same amount on take out as well. That’s $800 per month on food, and the question remains why can’t that $400 grocery bill suffice as long as you’re meal prepping and not relying on the convenience of take out food?

The meal prep point is not only valid in the grocery versus take out discussion but also how you move about the grocery store specifically. The old adage of “you shouldn’t go grocery shopping while you’re hungry” should be changed to not shopping unless you have a list. That means preparation is key when you hit the store, so you’re focused on what you need versus having to dig through the end of the aisle cardboard cutout promotions and other buys that you really don’t need but look to good to pass up on sale.

You also should make it a point to shop when items of your liking are on sale or in general take advantage of promotions or any incentives on using coupons. The average household throws away about $1000 worth of food per year, and you can’t help but wonder if a list and planning, along with avoiding take out food, would fix that.