5 Things You Should Never Buy at a Grocery Store
As every frequent shopper knows, there's a time to splurge—say, on late-August heirloom tomatoes at the farmer's market.
That means the converse is also true: There are certain products that aren't necessarily worth the expense. And if you're looking to save money on your grocery bill, they can sneakily add up.
After getting some tips from budget-minded bloggers, we've summarized the best takeaway tips to identify which supermarket offerings can blow your food budget.
Note: We used prices at a Kroger supermarket in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, for context. Your prices may vary! Meanwhile, here's what to avoid.
What's your least favorite fruit or veggie to cut? Mine is a butternut squash—too big and I feel like I'm wrestling with it! Or perhaps peeling potatoes or dicing tomatoes is low on your list of beloved kitchen tasks.
Yes, cutting up our produce for meal prep, dinner, or snacks does take extra time and elbow grease. But the convenience of precut produce can mean you're losing out at the checkout.
Instead, chop the veggies yourself, according to Amiyrah Martin, a blogger at Four Hats and Frugal: "They will up that price as much as possible," Martin says. "People are coming in because they really need [a product]—they're trying to save time, but they're actually spending way more money," she adds.
To illustrate: A 24 oz. container of precut pineapple chunks at a Kroger in Mount Pleasant costs $5.00, while a whole pineapple, which produces about the same yield, costs $2.49. By sharpening up your knife skills, you're paying half price.
A tip from Laurie Heiss at Passionate Penny Pincher: With snack-size bags of nuts or pretzels, once again, you're saving time but spending more. Instead, simply bag them yourself.
At Kroger, a package containing nine single-serving pretzel bags costs $3.99 — while a 15 oz. bag containing over double the servings costs just $1.50. Easily save yourself a few bucks and keep those mini bags out of your cart.
Related—50 Easy Snacks to Make in Bulk
Shopping in the freezer section in general is a great way to save money. When you stock frozen strawberries or veggie medleys, you don't have to worry about throwing away fresh produce (and money) after it's gone bad in the crisper drawer just a little too long. (Hey, we've all been there.)
But a pantry item like rice doesn't really go bad to begin with—so getting cooked, frozen rice from the freezer section is unnecessary and a waste of money, says Martin.
How much of a waste of money? At Kroger, a box of cooked, frozen brown rice packets costs $3.99 and makes 10 ounces of cooked rice total. A two pound of long grain brown rice costs $1.69 and yields about 90 to 100 ounces once cooked. Case closed.
New parents know this: Babies can wind up going through as many as 10 diapers a day. So even a difference of a few cents can add up in the long run.
Heiss says you can almost always get disposable diapers at decent prices from Amazon. This is especially true if you sign up for their Baby Registry Diaper Discount, which gives you 20% savings on eligible diapers for one year.
Let's crunch the numbers: From the Amazon brand diaper package, you get 148 diapers for $31.67 (about 21 cents per diaper). From a package at Kroger, you get 66 diapers for $27.22 (about 41 cents per diaper).
Save money up money for other new parent purchases (Might we recommend this tool for easy baby food at home?) and only get diapers from your online retailers.
We've all been tempted by the star-spangled chip and dip platter for Fourth of July artfully placed next to the guacamole ingredient display, or the adorable mini cutting boards atop the charcuterie meat and cheeses section.
But it's all there just to tempt you into an impulse buy, Martin cautions.
"People start thinking about whether they have the things to put the food on," she explains. "It's definitely an impulse purchase, but I highly suggest people just wait. Get your food and go to a store that specializes in housewares and you'll save a ton of money if you do that."
Such products are almost always better off bought at an IKEA or a Home Goods, Martin says: "Please, please, please, do not get them from your grocery store."