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Don’t do these 5 things while grocery shopping

Avoid These Grocery Shopping Habits

Grocery shopping can be stressful. Most of us just want to get in, get what we need, and get the heck out of there. Especially if you go grocery shopping on a Saturday afternoon (also known as The Worst Time to Go Shopping). Is this you?

To make sure you get your shopping done quickly, efficiently, and inexpensively, here are 5 things you should not do while grocery shopping:

1. Don’t shop on an empty stomach

To curb impulse buys, it’s always best to go grocery shopping immediately after you’ve had something to eat – not before.

If you shop when you’re hungry, everything in the store looks delicious. Even things you have never tried before. This often leads to many impulses buys that can kill your budget.

2. Don’t shop without a budget in mind

Speaking of budgets, you should always know what your spending cap is before you go shopping. If you don’t have a grocery budget, you never know when to stop shopping.

Not sure how much you should be spending on groceries each month? Track your grocery purchases for at least 3 months (6 is best) and get the average number. Then, cut that number by 25%. So if you usually spend about $600 on groceries, cut it to $450.

Save that $150 toward retirement, your child’s education fund, a down payment on a home, or anything else you need to save for.

Keep your budget in mind when you go grocery shopping. And don’t go over your budget.

Note: If you already spend very little on groceries, only cut 10%. (You may not need to cut anything tall.)

3. Don’t shop without a list

Shopping without a list (for anything, not just groceries) can be very dangerous. Just like shopping on an empty stomach, shopping without a list often leads to many impulse purchases.

Make your list before you go shopping and as soon as you get to the store, bring your list out and only buy the items that are on it.

4. Don’t shop with young children

If you’re able to shop alone, do it. Always shop by yourself whenever possible. Children have a way of convincing us that Dunkaroos and Twizzlers are a good purchase. Doritos and Oreos? Yes, let’s buy those too!

If you absolutely must shop with your children, let them know ahead of time (before you set foot in any store) that you can only buy what is on your shopping list.

5. Don’t forget to watch the register

Have you heard of the Scanning Code of Practice? If not, let me explain. The Scanning Code of Practice is a voluntary code that many retailers follow. It promises customers accurate pricing. If an item you are purchasing scans at a price higher than the advertised price, you get it for free (up to $10).

Make sure that you are watching the register as your items are being scanned to catch any errors, and if you see any, mention the Scanning Code of Practice to your cashier. The majority of them will either not mention it, or not know about it.

An average shopping trip for me is about 1 hour long. The reason I am able to complete my shopping in such a short period of time (1 hour is short, isn’t it?) is that I am prepared.

I have my list, I know my budget, I shop alone, and I never shop on an empty stomach.

Get in, get out, go home, enjoy the money you’ve saved.

Is there anything you would add to this list?


  1. Virginia

    Shopping on an empty stomach is definatly a bad idea, however I find if I’ve just eaten and I go shopping I don’t want to buy anything. Im full and nothing looks appatizing so I don’t end up buying much, even the stuff on my list. This isn’t good because I end up with no food and have to go back the next day.

    • Cassie Howard

      That is a good point! You don’t want to be stuffed, but you do want to eat something before you shop.

  2. natalie donofrio

    it used to take me about an hour—before i started couponing! now it takes about 1 and 1/2 because i’m scanning for coupons, looking for deals, etc. still worth it to me though.

  3. Nina

    Do you find that a cashier will follow the scanning code practise right at the till? I’ve always thought I had to keep my mouth shut, pay, and go up to customer service to get my refund. I thought if I told the cashier, they would just price override to the correct price & bypass the scanning code policy and I wouldnt get my freebie? I always check my bill and I have found Safeway to make the most errors and SaveOnFoods the least of all the stores I go to.

    • Cassie Howard

      You can definitely get your freebie in line, you don’t have to go to customer service.

    • Josie

      You should just mention SCOP. If you don’t cashiers just override to the “correct” price. SCOP is voluntary, meaning they don’t have to do it without you mentioning it. Why would they just hand you something for free? It’s not a Policy, it’s not something they HAVE to do, it’s something they do to keep customer’s happy. So if the customer is happy getting the “correct” price, then that’s what they do.

  4. Dana

    (it used to take me about an hour—before i started couponing! now it takes about 1 and 1/2 because i’m scanning for coupons, looking for deals, etc. still worth it to me though.)

    This is me also lol. It also takes more time at the cash with price matching and the cashier having to read every coupon lol. Along with the children leave the husband at home too, they always want to get in and out. Again though worth it and I am glad I found Cassie, you put a lot of work into this!!

  5. catherine

    Thank you for the scanning code of practice info. I didn’t understand why I got a melon for free once and I hurried out of there like in that IKEA commercial where the lady is yelling, ‘start the car! Start the car!’
    I would only go to the customer service because you don’t want to hold up the line while some teenager calls for assistance because he/she isn’t aware of the code. This happened to me once when I used a ton of coupons at loblaws and the dumb kid didn’t even know their coupon policy.
    Loblaws ALMOST ALWAYS makes a mistake. It’s a good rule of thumb after shopping anywhere: after you get your receipt, stop off to the side out of line and look over it to make sure everything adds up properly. Most of us here love sales and mostly only shop sales so you absolutely MUST look over your receipt before leaving any store.

    • Roberta

      I agree never leave the store without checking your receipt. I used to check my receipt once I got back to the car but some items cannot be returned as soon as they leave the store (ie dairy and produce). I once picked up the wrong sour cream that was not on sale and could not return it for the correct sale product because it had left the store.

      • Lori

        try to check the prices right at tyhe register because if you don’t notice unitl you have left the register and laready paid then you have to go to customer service and wait in that line for it to be corrected(Wal-Mart)

    • Josie

      It’s not necessarily the cashier’s fault if they don’t know the coupon policy. Most stores don’t even do training for it, you just have to ask as you go if you don’t know or understand. Calling someone dumb because they weren’t taught is just ignorant.

  6. TallNFunny

    I find the same thing as Virginia! A few times I went shopping full and didn’t end up buying a lot of the stuff on my list because it didn’t appeal to me at that moment.

    Also sometimes it’s inevitable or doesn’t make a difference depending on the store, but it’s a good idea to go shop at a time when it’s not a MADHOUSE!!!!

    Someone also mentioned that the best time to shop is Tuesday or Wednesday, that’s when they’ve replenished and things are fresh after running out on the weekend.

    • Cassie Howard

      True, I find Tuesday to be the best day for me (even though I rarely make it out on a Tuesday).

  7. sandra

    The scanning code is a big one. Honestly, 9 times out of 10 I will get an item for free. I am always telling people to always ask the cashier to wait until you are able to watch the screen- (if you have a big order) and always count your change they give you. these two tips save money.

  8. greeneyesgreen

    I always try and watch the cashier while he/she is scanning my products. For me the worst place for mistakes is Shoppers Durg Mart; I never leave the store without just pulling away from the counter and check my receipt. For the other stores we need to check all receipts because scanners make mistakes, especially if things are reduced to clear..

  9. Shannon

    It wasnt until taking on a p/t job at shoppers (when my son was a 6 months old so i could speak with adults and make some money for his college fund) that i even learned of scanning code of practice after reading ABOUT IT ON THE FRONT DOOR. I asked my store managers and none of them knew about it.They hated me because id let customers know the policy if they didn’t ask and constantly gave away free stuff. I told them to improve the systems to make less mistakes and that was pretty much the end of that job. Then one day in the cash office a manager hugged me and I told them that made me uncomfortable and since i was still on prohabation they fired me before i could file a workplace harrassment complaint

  10. Lori

    the scanning code of practice is only for non-ticketed items, so for example, if you are buying a shirt that is marked down and it’s normal price is $10 but it has a clearance sticker onit for $3 and it rings up the worng price at he register this doesn not apply to the SCOP. Think UPC label, those are the ones that apply. also, the orice could be wrong in your favour even, so if the item scans at the wrong price either higher or lower then the shelf price you get it free up to $10 or $10 off the item if it is more then $10. Only one item though, so if you are buying multiples, the first item is free and the rest are just price adjusted to the correct price.

    • Josie

      The SCOP DOES NOT apply to items that are scanned at a lower price ….

      The Item Free Scanner Policy – The Retailers’ Promise of Price Accuracy.

      If the scanned price of a non-price ticketed item is higher than the shelf price or any other displayed price, the customer is entitled to receive the item free, up to a $10 maximum. When the item has a price tagged, the lowest price applies. When identical items are incorrectly priced, the second one will be sold at the correct price.

  11. Debra

    I like your article, but I have always shopped with my 3 children and they know we rarely buy anything without a coupon, they help me look for deals/sales/clearance items and coupon tear pads. I think I am educating them to become great shoppers. They will often say “that’s not a good deal” when they see a price of an item (even cookies) and they move with our list.

  12. Sherisse Al Sabeh

    For our family, we have managed to get a system down. Everyone is involved. We have a detailed shopping list with the stores we are pm with , with they flyers and coupons are together. My husband and I divide the list and pick our “team” ( we have three kids). Our oldest (11) is responsible for looking for tear pads or coupons on products we buy. Our eldest daughter is the “gofer” (10) she will go down one side of the isle wile I am at the other end. Looking for what’s on the list. Our youngest daughter (5) she is looking for items that are on sale for a dollar or less….. She is soooo good at his…… Our family trips usually take about an hour and as a reward, we take the kids to mcdonalds( using coupons from taking surveys). At Walmart, we have learned the schedual of one of the cashiers. She is coupon savvy and code of conduct saved. She also k ows about other flyer deals that I sometime miss and gives me those prices. We never leave the stores without checking our receipts. And it seems that there is always one kind of error. Good thing we check 🙂

  13. rhonda

    i made 2 of these mistakes today.
    i took my kids and wanted to leave them in the store as payment and take my coupons home!!!!
    and i forgot to watch the register and check my receipt before i left. i was charged twice for apples. i price matched them and they put the regular price and the reduced price on. i should go back, but i’m tooooo annoyed right now! argh.

  14. loree

    also watch the fruit and veggies that are by weight.. I’ve had it rang up so many times wrong.. Apples were on sale for 0.99 a lb.. (about 2.20 a kg) and they were weight and prices at 4.99 kg.. both the cashier and the manager couldn’t grasp the fact that I was over charged on my apples.. all because weighed in kg but prices at the bins are marked in lbs..I wonder how many people were over charged for their apples that week.. needless to say i got the apples for free and she was so flustered and didn’t get it.. she also took the 4.99 off my bill… the weighing and pricing.. that is something that really erks me.. make it one or the other.. please..

  15. nancy duncan

    i did a scop today and the cashier said that she couldn’t because the whole bill has to be rung up first? and then i have to notice the mistake??

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