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Fix Your Grocery List: 15 Ways You’re Wasting Money on Food

The average American family spends $4,000 per year on groceries, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or about $333 per month. Yet for many food eats up even more of the household budget, often due to sloppy shopping mistakes, such as giving in when the kids beg for candy, tossing frozen meals in your cart because you don’t have time to cook, and grabbing containers of single-serve snacks and pre-cut veggies to save time. By the time you get to the checkout, you’re looking at a three-figure total and still don’t seem to have anything to make for dinner.

Bad shopping habits are one reason the average U.S. household throws away $640 worth of food every year, according to a survey by the American Chemistry Council. And that just counts the soured milk that gets poured down the drain or the moldy peaches we toss in the trash. Americans waste even more money by scooping up overpriced items, ignoring sales, not shopping around at different stores, and neglecting to use coupons, according to consumer experts.

Let’s take a closer look at ways you’re probably wasting money at the grocery store, including the worst day of the week to shop and what you’re missing right in front of you.

1. Not making a list

Guy Fieri at the 2016 Food Network & Cooking Channel

Guy Fieri at the 2016 Food Network & Cooking Channel Guy Fieri wants you to make a grocery list so you don’t forget important ingredients | Dylan Rives / Stringer/Getty Images

Grocery shopping without a list is one of the biggest money mistakes you can make. “If you go into the grocery store without a plan, you’re more likely to walk out with items you wouldn’t otherwise purchase,” Kendal Perez of Coupon Sherpa told The Cheat Sheet. If a paper list is too much trouble, try apps, such as Out of Milk and Grocery IQ, which make it easier to keep track of what you need and locate local deals. The latter is key to saving even more money at the store.

“Your grocery list should be composed of products featured in the store’s weekly sales ad,” Perez said. “Planning meals around what’s on sale is key to saving money on food and reducing your overall grocery budget.”

Next: This mistake is not only a waste of money, but also a waste of time.

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