Even if you work hard to save money on groceries, you may be spending too much without realizing it. Recently, I’ve come across some sneaky pricing tricks at my local grocery stores. At first, you might think that you are saving money on groceries, but you’ll find that you are actually overpaying for groceries!

Are you being tricked into spending more on food? Five ways you think you are saving money-but are actually overpaying for groceries! Cut your grocery bill by watching for these pricing tricks at your store.


Clearance does not always mean cheaper

If you love to save money, you are probably drawn to clearance items when you shop-even at the grocery store. Clearance items may be seasonal items (like Easter themed) that have passed the time when people will likely buy them. Or they may just be items the store is trying to get rid of.

But a recent trip to my local Wal-mart had me a little surprised. They had a 12 pack of fruit pouches on the clearance shelf marked at a “clearance” price of $7.28. After a trip down the aisles to find the regular priced ones, I found a pack of 4 for $1.98 (equating to a 12 pack for $5.94), less than their clearance price!

Buying in bulk can be more expensive

We are programmed to think that the largest package of any item must be the best price for what we are buying. Especially since we are accustomed to buying in bulk at stores like Sam’s Club or Costco.

My recent trip found a few examples of this, one of them being fresh blackberries. The small container was $1.48 and the large container (double the size) was $3.48.

In reality, you need to compare the prices for the different sizes. Some stores make this easy by listing a cost per ounce/unit directly on the price sticker. Other stores you may have to figure this out yourself. You may need to buy multiples of smaller packaged items instead of buying the large bulk package to save the most money.

Sale tags aren’t always a great deal

Have you walked down an aisle and been drawn to the red or yellow tags indicating an item has been marked down? Most of the time, we assume it’s a good deal because it’s marked down, right?

Next time check the before and after price. Many of the items are only marked down a little bit. I saw plenty of signs advertising a great deal…but many were under $.20! Yes, it’s still a savings over regular price. But I still feel duped because the grocery store made a big deal over a little savings. And if you like to stock pile when you find a good deal, you might be likely to stock up when you see the little red flag.

Only stock up on sale items if it is a good (rock bottom) price. Don’t give in and buy more for the “little” sale.

Reduced package sizes

This one is a little trickier and more on the food manufacturers. We as consumers don’t like to pay more for our food, so what happens when food costs rise? Food packages shrink.

Instead of increasing prices, many items just get smaller. And what really peeves me is when they make a big deal about something being “regular” size again.

Do you remember when ice cream came in a half gallon container? Then it gradually went down to 1.75 quarts and now most are 1.5 quarts but the pricing has remained about the same.

Sometimes they change the packaging in a way that you don’t even realizing you are getting less. I saw a special on tv where they made the dent in the bottom of the peanut butter jar bigger so the jar looked the same, but held less peanut butter.

A couple of other examples-shredded cheese is starting to shrink from it’s 2 cup packages and some pasta is down to 12 oz from a pound.

Pricing by the pound

When you go into the produce section, you find that most items are priced by the pound. And often times it’s hard to find a scale to see how much you are actually getting (Wal-mart is the worst).

While that isn’t too bad, you can still end up paying too much for food if you aren’t careful.

Just last week, I wanted to get some watermelon. The store had whole watermelons for about $5, but I knew we would not eat (or have room for) a whole one. To my convenience, they had halved and quartered watermelon as well. And at the great price of $.69 a pound.

At $.69 a pound, I figured it would be a couple bucks. Except I figured wrong (duh, watermelon is heavy). And I didn’t realize my mistake until I got home and saw the price tag on the bottom that I missed when I purchased it. My little quarter of a watermelon cost me $4.50, and I could have bought a whole one for just a little bit more.

Pay attention to pricing

Even when we work hard to save money on groceries, we may be getting tricked into paying more for our food. Pay close attention to the prices before you fall for these common tactics!