I hate going to the grocery store. It’s a thankless job and I usually spent more than I was planning on spending, but not anymore. Here are a few mistakes I was making at the grocery store and I’m here to help you not make these same mistakes.

Mistake #1 – Not Making a List

I used to not make a list and I would come home, unpack and forget half the stuff I went to the store there for. Now, I make a list; check it twice and I write it on the back of an envelope with my coupons stuffed inside. If you’re not in to toting a piece of paper around, there are grocery shopping apps out there that can help you be organized when you go to the store.

Mistake #2 – Staying Away From Generics

When I was a kid, I had a friend who only ate generic stuff. Raiding their cupboards when I went over there after school, it was all black and white packages labeled “CHIPS” “CEREAL” “JUICE” “COLA” and the like. Not saying you have to be so generic you have to buy suspect things out of black and white packaging, but I am a huge fan of the Archer Farms, Market Pantry and Simply Balanced brands made for Target and it usually costs far less than the national brands.

Mistake #3 – Shopping During Peak Hours

When do you go shopping? If it’s sometime on Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning, chances are you run in to a million people and you’re all clamoring for the same stuff and finding empty shelves. A better time to shop is later in the evening during the week or early on Saturday mornings.

Mistake #4 – Not Checking for Deals

Before I go to the grocery store, I check through all of the weekly ads for all of the local stores and make notes on my list for which store I can go to to get things for cheap and then check to see if I have a coupon to make it even cheaper. Don’t forget to check online for deals, too.

Mistake #5 – Shopping Hungry

Have you ever gone shopping on an empty stomach? How much money did you spend on impulse buys? Probably more than you’d like to admit. If you’re going shopping after work, keep a snack in your bag and save it until before you go grocery shopping, or hit the stores right after dinner so you aren’t at the grocery store thinking about all of the yummy things to eat there.