When it comes to grocery shopping, if you are trying to save money, there are certain things you should avoid buying. With so many products out there, it’s hard to know which ones to buy and what is a rip-off. Sure, coupons can save you a lot at the store, but even with coupons, some things will always be over-priced. (I know, you are shocked that I am dissin’ my coupons!)
Items you Should Never Buy At The Grocery Store
Pre-cut anything. It may not seem like much, but that little bit extra you pay for pre-cut items can really add up and if it’s something that you can easily cut yourself in no time, why waste the money? Avoid pre-cut meat, vegetables, fruit and cheese. By the way, there is no such thing as a ‘baby carrot”. It is simply a regular carrot that is cut by a machine into that shape.
Bulk Items you won’t use in time. The biggest offender here is produce. If more than ¼ of the amount you buy goes in the trash every time, you are wasting a lot of money. Avoid large sacks of potatoes, citrus and lettuce.
Jarred and branded spices. Buying spices as you need them in the bulk foods section of your local natural food market will save you so much more money than buying small jars of spices on the shelves. You are probably paying 10 times more than you need to for spices if you buy this way.
Baked goods. Unless you are an absolutely terrible baker or have absolutely no time (and can’t make it), don’t buy baked goods. This is especially true for bread. A loaf of homemade bread can cost mere cents. Specialty baked goods like donuts or pies are marked up at least twice what they cost to make. (see my homemade bread recipe HERE)
Frozen waffles and pancakes. Making your own and freezing them will not take more than 20 minutes of your time and will cost way less than buying in boxes in the freezer section. The same is true for frozen burritos. You also get to skip the added preservatives and chemicals.
Name brand ketchup and condiments. Here’s a secret: The name brand condiments you are buying such as ketchup are often made with the same recipe and even the same production line as the generics. Buy generic and save…unless it’s a killer deal with coupons.
Laundry detergent. No matter how good of a deal you get on it with sales and coupons, unless it was free, it is much cheaper to make your own. You are paying around 18 cents a load when you buy laundry soap, even in the large bulk containers, on average. Making your own only costs around 3 cents a load. Look around online and you will find easy to follow recipes for both liquid and powder versions that take easy to find ingredients and less than 15 minutes to make.
Name brand cereals. Even when sales happen, name brand cereals are usually more expensive than the generic versions. There is pretty much a generic version of any name brand cereal flavor available now. It seems like the days of “Buy 6 boxes, We take off $10 instantly and give you free milk and free eggs on your next visit” are gone.
Bottled water. This has always been a known money thief, but the mark-up really is astounding. If you really can’t stand your tap water, invest in a filter for your faucet or a pitcher with a filter.
Deli foods. You may love the convenience of pre-made potato salads but the mark-up is big on these items. Because they take so much time to prepare and the employees they must pay to do the job, grocery stores heavily raise the price on these items. You are paying for convenience and while that is OK on occasion, it shouldn’t be something you do all the time. When Potatoes are $0.20 a pound, and you buy premade salad for $4.99/lb. you can see the huge cost spike.
Soda. If your family drinks a lot of pop, it might be better to invest in a machine that makes it, such as a Sodastream, than buy it in cans. You pay as much as 50 cents a can if you buy name-brand. If you don’t want to make it yourself, at least buy it in 2 liters as you will pay less that way. Often you will see them on sale for $0.99/$1.00.
Soups in a can. Making your own soup is simple and a heck of a lot cheaper than buying it in a can. Plus, when you make it at home, you can better control the sodium and it contains no preservatives. It all starts with a Roux, like I shared HERE.
Personal care items. Occasionally, these will go on sale, but even at sale prices you can usually find them cheaper elsewhere. Grocery stores are counting on you to need a last minute item like hand lotion, soap or toothpaste. They consistently keep the prices of these items high so you can get everything you need in one place and not have to make a trip to the drugstore to get them at a lower price. If you play the “drugstore game”, you can often get personal care items for FREE or just pennies.