30 Things You Should Stop Buying at the Grocery Store
It seems these days, we are all doing our best to save a few dollars. Especially those of us with kids at home. Many of us do it. We scour the Sunday paper for the best coupons we can find and keep our fingers crossed for a triple coupon day at our favorite grocery store.
But what if we told you that you could save that same kind of money by shopping elsewhere? Many times, the items we find on the shelves at the grocery store are overpriced because of their convenience. Sometimes, we must go out of our way to find the real money savers to keep some extra dollars in our pockets.
We’ve gathered a list of 30 items that you can find at your local grocery store, but you would be served better by purchasing them somewhere else. Read more to find out which items you should be crossing off your grocery store shopping list.
Pancake & Waffle Mix
It's just as easy—and cheaper—to just purchase the ingredients and mix them yourself. Most of the time, you'll have the ingredients in your pantry already. That means there's no need to buy the extra stuff at the store for more money.
Not to mention, making the mix yourself gives you much more freedom. The average pancake recipe uses all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, milk, egg, and butter. That's it! There are a million and one recipes online, too.
These are almost always more expensive at the grocery store. It's better to buy batteries at a warehouse store or online in bulk for a cheaper option. Batteries, on average, can be stored and keep their power for five to 10 years, meaning they're good for a long time.
The batteries you get at the store aren't any different from the ones in a warehouse or online, either. Our only tip is that you buy batteries from a reputable online retailer if you're going with a website like Amazon. Knock off brands that are less quality tested run the risk of leaking.
The better and overall cheaper option would be to invest in a water filtration system for your water faucet or a reusable water bottle instead of polluting the Earth with all those little plastic bottles. Not to mention, you're going to save a ton of money in the long run. Lets look at the math.
Even cheap water bottle brands offer 24 16.9oz bottles for roughly $4. That means you're paying $4 for a little more than three gallons of water. One, you can get big jugs of water for less. Two, a filter can clean 40 gallons for about $4 per filter! Not to mention, it cleans out more toxins than bottled water.
Grocery store magazines are obscenely overpriced. They're betting on you spending a little extra because you're enticed by the cover. Subscribing for one whole year can save you up to 75% off of the cost of buying them off the shelf at the grocery store.
Many companies offer amazing deals that allow you to get a magazine for as little as $1 a cover. That doesn't even touch on the fact that an online subscription to the magazine cuts down on waste, and makes it much easier to read in the first place.
Canned Fruits & Vegetables
Canned fruits and veggies can be rather unhealthy for some because of all the sodium and preservatives that are packed in with them. Sure, it's cheaper than fresh, but there's a reason canned vegetables are always so mushy (and it isn't the way you cook them).
In order to make canned fruits and vegetables safe for human consumption, they need to be cooked at extremely high temperatures. This is what makes it last a long time and also makes it mushier than your denture-free grandma's pudding. Fresh or frozen is the way to go.
Grocery stores bet on the fact that you see something on the shelf and think, "Oh yeah, I need that!" It works out fine for food, but other times like diapers? You're going to pay much more than you should be. You can pay a lot less by ordering them online in bulk, rather than buying one pack at a time from the grocery store.
Most of the time, you can get big brands for a fraction of the price you'd pay in the grocery store. Not to mention, you can find coupon codes that will further discount the cost. Depending on how much you buy, it could also be free shipping.
Stock at the grocery store is easy to buy. We'll give you that. The only problem is that the cheap stuff doesn't taste as good, and the expensive stuff is well...expensive! You probably have everything you need to make your own stock at home. Honestly, it's easy to make on your own, and it tastes so much better.
All you need to do is keep the scraps of the food you already use — bones and vegetable scraps. Vegetable broth is the fastest because you need to boil the veggies for about 20 minutes. Meat broth can be made in a slow cooker to allow everything to come out perfect.
Special Occasion Cakes
Getting your cake at Walmart, Kroger, or Kings is easy, but you're paying for that convenience. Unless you want a smaller cake, you're going to spend much more than if you want to a bulk store. Not to mention, it's the same baked goods!
Go to warehouse stores like Sam's and BJ's will often give you more cake for your dollar, so it would be wiser to order your cake from there instead. Plus, stores like this will often have more options.
To save some cash, instead of buying your toothbrushes at the grocery store every three months, ask your dentist for a few extra samples at your next visit. Most dentists' offices are just happy that you're brushing your teeth and asking for more. This also goes for that nice floss ribbon or floss tape that they hand out!
If you do have to buy your own toothbrushes, look for coupons that may be floating around. There are so many out there that it's hard to believe that anyone has paid full price for a toothbrush. It isn't hard to find name-brand toothbrushes for just $0.49!
Here's another time when those warehouse stores will save you a little extra. Buying alcohol in a grocery store can be up to twice as expensive for a much smaller bottle. The bottles at warehouse stores often are big enough for a football team!
However, if you want something that's truly delicious and high-quality, you'll need to go to an actual alcohol store. It just makes sense that they have more options, but those who work there can direct you to a new favorite.
While the grocery store isn’t the worst place to get your pet’s vittles, we suggest ordering online for a couple of reasons. First of all, no one has tampered with the bag. You'd be surprised how many people tear open pet food bags at grocery stores.
Second, you're sure to get the brand you like best. Places like Chewy make sure to keep what you like in stock, and if they don't, they can help you find something similar that your pet won't turn their nose up at.
Most people don't get their kitchenware at grocery stores, so the prices for the items are insanely inflated. Not to mention, they've been there for a long time. You’ll find better prices at Bed, Bath, & Beyond than you would at your neighborhood grocery store.
Grocery stores bet on the fact you're making kitchenware purchases at the last second out of necessity or out of impulse, meaning you'll look past the price. Even if you're in love with the piece, you can likely find it online for much less.
These are a bit overpriced at the grocery store. These grocery stores are betting on the fact you see the cards and remember you need one. What's paying over $5 for a single card? Answer: a lot. That's a ton for something someone won't keep long. You’d get more bang for your buck by ordering them online in bulk or even creating your own online.
Alternatively, you could also make your own. There are a lot of tutorials online for making greeting cards for pretty cheap using just watercolor paper (or construction paper) and watercolor paints. Finally, you could just give them a note with your well wishes.
This is a well-known secret for those that buy gift cards regularly. Sometimes the big bulk stores will sell $100 worth of a gift card for just $80. Check these stores out before you head to the grocery store to pick one up!
If you know you're going to buy gift cards soon, keep an eye out for sales. While some are as low as $10 off (i.e. $40 for a $50 gift card), but others can be half off when you get a really good sale! Just keep an eye out.
We're gonna blow your mind. All wine is cooking wine depending on what you like. The "cooking" wines that you get on the shelf next to the vinegar can be saltier, high in preservatives, and cannot be consumed like regular wine. Instead of doing that, just get a regular bottle of wine — something cheap like Two Buck Chuck.
Since you're cooking the wine, chances are, the quality doesn't matter as much, but the salt content? Yeah, that matters a lot. Those who prefer not to eat a lot of salt can't stand "cooking wine." It's easier to much grab yourself a bottle of dry red or white and season to your preferences.
Croutons & Breadcrumbs
You have the ingredients you need in your cabinet right now. Take that old stale bread and turn it into croutons and breadcrumbs, instead of throwing it out. They'll tastes better than whatever you're going to get at the store.
Not only does the store stuff have preservatives, but it could have ingredients you don't want. Making it yourself just requires leaving it out for a little while on the counter or even toasting it in the oven. Mix in whatever herbs you want, and voila! Bread crumbs. For croutons, do the same, but cut the pieces of bread into bite-sized portions before allowing to dry.
Frozen and/or Canned Pasta
Frozen and/or canned pastas are also another food that is loaded down with sodium and other preservatives that can be unhealthy for you. Making ravioli isn't easy, but the rest? Super easy to make, and there's often a boxed version that's cheaper and will taste fresher when made.
Alternatively, you can make your own pasta and sauces and freeze it for later meals! We love a good meal prep. The dried box pasta is good, but if you want to make your own version, get extra fine "00" flour and eggs. All you need is 100g of flour and one egg. Mix until dough forms, and cut into pasta! It's literally that easy.
Granola & Granola Bars
Granola is one of those foods that are marketed as being healthy but in reality? Not so much. Granola in the stores is packed full of sugar, preservatives, and stuff that you probably don't want in your body. For that reason, it may be time to stop buying granola and granola bars at the store.
Granola and granola bars are one of the easiest things you can make from home, and you can cater it to your tastes. Not to mention, have you ever tried warm, homemade granola bars? Honestly, they can sometimes rival brownies! Another great bonus is that homemade granola is often half as expensive as the pre-made stuff.
Hot Bar Food
Hot bar food can be tempting (as long as it hasn't been sitting under the heating lamps for several hours). What grocery stores don't tell you is that these foods are way more expensive than you think until you get up to the register. That's where you realize that most grocery stores charge their hot food bar items by the pound.
By the time you get to the register, you don't want to put the hot food back, so you just go ahead and buy it. A pizza slice can be as much as $2.50, while a cheap pizza can be $4! Mac and cheese is another big culprit. One box is $1, while the food bar can have it for $2 or even $4 a pound. Yikes.
It may feel like you're making the healthy choice by buying instant oatmeal. Has to be better than cereal, right? Wrong. Instant oatmeal can be packed with as much sugar as what kids beg their parents to get at the store — looking at you, Captain Crunch.
Making fresh, steel-cut oatmeal is a much better alternative. Steel-cut oats are easy to make, and you can add your own flavors. Plus, you can get a massive container for less than $5. That will make a ton of oatmeal.
Single Serve Coffee Pods
Those little single-serve coffee pods are unsustainable for the environment and often aren't recyclable no matter what the company states. If you drink more than one or two cups per day, it's cheaper to buy it in bigger sizes and brew a full pot.
Single-serve coffee pods are really only ideal for those that drink a cup a day or a cup every now and then. Financially, it makes more sense to buy a bag of beans, grind them yourself at the store, and brew it at home using whatever method you like best.
Minced garlic might seem like a time-saver, but it's kinda bad for you. If you read the ingredients, garlic is on there, but so are tons of other ingredients that help preserve the garlic so it doesn't go bad before you eat it. There's no reason to buy this stuff when fresh garlic is available.
A garlic press can be purchased for around $10 and is nearly as easy as opening the can of pre-minced garlic. Cleaning is also a breeze depending on the type of press you get. If you're really looking to save some money, you can also grow more garlic from unused bulbs.
This one isn't necessarily for peanut butter, but all the other choices at the store. Nut butter is easy to make, but grocery stores jack up the price for things like almond butter because of the perceived "healthiness" of the product. That makes it more trendy, and easier for brands to jack up the price.
Instead, get a bag of almonds and blend them up yourself to make your own nut butter. You can do this with pretty much any nut. You can also do it with peanut butter if you want something specific like salted honey peanut butter.
Pesto is super easy to make at home and—even better—you can season it to your own specific tastes. The only tough part is finding enough basil to make pesto with, but a big container can be around $5 while a teeny, tiny can of pre-made pesto will likely be the same price (and have a lot less in the jar).
If you can't find enough basil for what you need, you can always get a smaller container and substitute spinach for the rest. It'll have a lot less bite than the typical pesto, but it'll have a similar flavor profile and do the job just as well. It'll also have the added nutrients the spinach brings with it!
Pre-Cut Fruits & Vegetables
These items of convenience sure do look pretty, but they come with a price. They're often more expensive and can either be over- or underripe. Some stores take the fruits and veggies that haven't sold, cut them up, and put them in a container for you to buy — meaning you're getting something that's nearly bad (or has gone bad).
The cheaper alternative is to shop the items yourself and cut them up. It takes a little longer and can be tedious, but the foods are usually the perfect ripeness. After all, you picked it yourself! You also know when it's going to go bad, unlike the stuff sold in the plastic containers that are precut.
Those little bottles of dried spices at the store can cost you upwards of $5 per jar! That's a little much for spices. Bulk food stores are the better option for these because you can purchase the amount you need, instead of buying a whole jar for one teaspoon.
Either way, you're going to save money. If you only need a teaspoon, the rest will go bad, which means wasted money. Buying large quantities of jars will also take too much out of your pocket. Ultimately, the jarred spices could also be on the counter for a long time and be expired. This means the taste will be a lot less, and you could be spending a ton for a spice that tastes like saw dust.
Lightbulbs can be quite pricey these days and are even pricier at the grocery store. Expect to pay at least an extra dollar or two when you get them at the grocery store. We recommend that you order them in bulk online or maybe at a warehouse store to save some money.
If you only need one light bulb, visit a home improvement store like Home Depot or Lowes. You may end up walking out with a better option than your classic bulb. There are smart bulbs nowadays that allow you to control your lights in your home with just an app.
The same decorations you can find at a grocery store can more than likely be purchased at the Dollar Store for much, much less as party supplies can become quite costly at the grocery store.
Grocery stores can charge $5 for just 10 paper plates. When would you ever be willing to spend $0.50 for a single paper plate? A bit much. If the dollar store doesn't have what you want, check out a party supply store. More options at a lower price compared to grocery stores.
If there is a local bakery or bakery outlet store nearby, we suggest you purchase your fresh bread from there instead of the grocery store. It is much cheaper at an outlet store, so you can buy more and freeze it until you need it.
Alternatively, you can make your own bread. It sounds like a lot of work, but there are a number of recipes out there that are designed to knead a little one day, rest overnight, and then bake it the next for delicious, fresh bread. You likely already have all the ingredients, too.
Many times, your local butcher shop will have bulk deals to save you money. In addition, many times the meat you’ll find at the butcher is much leaner and healthier than the meats you’ll find at the grocery store.
Grocery stores can also be sneaky when it comes to meat. If it's getting a little old, they grind it up and call it "fresh." Yuck! They may also sell it as spiced food for things people are less likely to buy when ground, like chicken. The best bet is to go to your butcher shop, where they're honest.