By MEGAN DURISIN
One in three Americans could be wasting $2,600 a year at the grocery store, a new survey by recipe kit company HelloFresh found.That's $50 per week thrown away on items that are either tossed out or never used.
Married couples are more likely to walk away with unnecessary items in their cart, the survey found. But even most singles do: 12 percent of them said they never overspend, compared to 7 percent of married couples.
Although the numbers are striking, Americans still spend a lower percentage of their annual income on food than any other country. A recent Bloomberg Businessweek chart shows the average consumer's food expenses fell from 16.8 percent of annual income in 1984 to 11.2 percent in 2011.
Even so, $2,600 isn't something most people can afford to throw away.
Here are a few ways to shave down some of your excess spending at the grocery store:
1. Shy away from brand names. The products with the grocery store's own label are often just as good and usually come for a cheaper price.
2. Buy ingredients, rather than prepared products. If you have time to make your own pasta salad at home, you can save money compared to buying the finished product at the store.
3. Purchase produce when it's in season. Apples cost the least during fall harvest season and berries are more of a bargain in the summer than the winter.
4. Don't shop on an empty stomach. You're more likely to overfill your cart in response to your stomach's rumblings.
5. Skip the bottled water. At a dollar per bottle, the costs add up fast, and you can always buy a filter for your tap water, which flows for a tiny fraction of the cost.
6. Make a list. It takes a few minutes of advance preparation, but it will save you from wandering aimlessly down the pasta aisle, debating possibilities for your Sunday night meal.
7. Learn to love bulk. Buying larger boxes of cereals and crackers can typically save you a few cents on per unit cost, and your snacks will stick around your cupboards for longer.