10 Things You Should Not Buy at the Grocery Store


10 Things You Should Not Buy at The Grocery Store

Saving money at the grocery store does not always mean using coupons.  There are some products that rarely or never have coupons making it near impossible to get these items for super cheap or free.  There are several ways you can work deals however to help pay for such items – using Catalinas for example to pay for meat but that is a post for another day.

Today we are going to talk about ways to save by not even buying certain products.  Most of these products are for pure convenience which of course you pay extra for.  Some of them you may be able to score a great deal on from time to time but if you can’t, avoid buying these items.  Being on a tight budget and wasting money on convenience foods just doesn’t make sense.  Use that money to spend on things that are more important, like meats and veggies.

Here is my list of what you should  not buy at the grocery store:

1. Fresh Herbs

fresh herbs

Fresh Herbs are just so easy to grow.  Even if you don’t have a yard to plant an herb garden, a small corner of your kitchen is all you need to plant herbs that are used often by your family. Be sure to take a look at how you can grow your herbs indoors.

2.Produce Out of Season


If you are on a tight budget, the last thing you want to waste your money on is high priced fruits and vegetables.  Buying produce in season is a huge money saver.  For instance, corn, eggplant and peppers are just a few of the produce items that are in season in August.  Buying extra and freeze them so you can use them during the off season.  Or, if you don’t have room in your freezer to store extra produce items, then simply prepare your meals based on the produce in season.  If you are not familiar with the sales cycles for produce be sure to check our this handy guide to Grocery Sales Cycles

3. Canned Beans


Yes I know sometimes we can get these at a great price however when that is not possible, opt for the dry beans.  They are so much cheaper and easy to prepare even dry.  Make sure to check out How to Cook with Dry Beans if you are unsure how to prepare them.

4. Bottled Salad Dressing

Assortment Of Salad Dressing Bottles

I usually pass on these items even when I can get them for free as it’s so easy to make delicious salad dressings.  We have our go to Italian Salad Dressing that we make often but I’m always experimenting with new salad dressings.  Quite honestly they taste so much better than bottled and so much better for you too! Visit our Salad Recipes which are packed with some great salad dressing recipes.

5. Juice Boxes


Another item that we can sometimes get great deals on but, again, when you can’t, don’t waste your money on this convenience.

6. Baby Food


Baby food is just so easy to make and easy to store.  You can freeze them in ice cube trays and pop them out when ready to serve.  Not only is it less expensive, it’s a much healthier option for your little one.  If you haven’t made your own baby food check out how to get started making baby food.

7. Flavored Water


If you want flavored water, you can easily chop up a lemon or lime and add it to a water bottled filled with filtered water.  So much cheaper! We use this great Infusion Water Pitcher that we keep in the frig with lemon and limes.

8. Pre-cut Produce


There we go with convenience again.  Precut produce is always more expensive and not worth the expense.  If cutting down the time to get dinner on the table is important to you then consider taking an hour on a Sunday or an evening to prepare the vegetables ahead of time so during the week all you have to do is grab and go.

9. Organic Produce


Let me clarify this for some of you that are 100% organic.  If buying organic is important to you then buying it at a grocery store is not the route you should be going.  It’s going to be expensive.  Seek out alternate sources such as local farms, farmers markets, co-ops, etc.  Also, if you like organic, note that you don’t have to buy everything organic.  Be sure to check out the Environmental Working Groups Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen for a list of the 12 items you should buy organic and the 15 that there is no need to waste your money on.  Topping the list of the Dirty Dozen are Apples, Strawberries and Grapes.  The Clean Fifteen starts with Avocados, Corn and Pineapples.

10. Individual Packaged Products


Another convenience item!  Unless it’s free, don’t waste the money on these single serving packs. Buy family size packs and put them into small snack bags.  Save money even more and get reusable snack bags.

I’d love to hear what items you have opted not to purchase at the grocery store.  Do you refuse to buy granola bars because you make your own?  Do you make your own bread and are able eliminate that expense at the grocery store?  Share ways you have found that have helped your family save.


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  • Lynne Hackett

    Ooooo, ooooooo, Cindy. Listen to this one.

    Well I’ll start the discussion. Cindy is great. Site is terrific. Unless you are a blonde. I’m being a true blonde this week. I lost my shopping list twice when the browser shut down. Yes, while at work. Today. Yes I’m at work. I cut my coupons with the WORK paper cutter. Yes, while at work. Get this. The last few sheets of coupons had my list behind it. Yes. I cut my list. In several little sheets.

    Good Lord.

    • Sounds like you had a rough day. 😉

      • Lynne Hackett

        Well, truth be told I should NOT be doing this at work. Actually I did it on my morning break and lunch break…. but still….it’s my blonded-ness


  • george

    I could understand every item on this list except perhaps juice boxes. Kids who bring lunch to school need them. They never remember to bring home plastic containers meant for refills of juice so what else does anyone propose for drinks for kids? And by the way, I would only recommend 100% juice or milk that doesn’t require refrigeration (shelf-stable). Most so-called juice boxes are anything but juice.

    • Nell

      Honestly,juice box doesn’t fill up your child with water but sugar..Less to drink as well..Go for water bottle instead or another thing would be coconut water,good for replenishing electrolytes..And if the kids don’t bring the bottle,it’s not a big deal..

      • George

        Some juice boxes are nothing but water and sugar but there are some that are 100% fruit juice. That’s why reading labels is so important. I agree that bottles of water are terrific, if your kids will drink it.

    • natalie

      but they do remember the water bottle, and the containers for their snacks, when they put it all back in the reusable insulated lunch bag. never had a problem, and they have enough water for both lunch and snack time, and sometimes even some left for after-school recess. 😉

      • George

        Gee, your kids are great and very organized. My kids forgot or lost the containers at least 25% of the time

        • natalie

          if it weren’t for the reusable lunch bag to stuff everything into, they might be more likely to lose them. much tougher to lose the whole bag. and the school asks that their name be written on the bag, just in case. 🙂

          • Michelle T.

            Yep, I even get the wrappers and stuff that should be thrown out. At least I know he ate his lunch LOL.

        • Carrie

          Mine forget their
          Lunch box at least that often as well. We buy 100% juice boxes/pouches. Nothing wrong with that and they get an extra fruit seecing

    • Jaime

      My issue with lunch box drinks is that any reusable bottle I have tried leaks to some extent. At least the juice/milk boxes won’t leak! That, in my opinion, is worth paying a little something for!

      • Liz Nowak Harwood

        RIght on! Even the Sigg bottles I sent leaked!

      • natalie

        the boxes and pouches are so small that my kids would need at least two, and that adds up way too fast! they only take water in their bottles, so we can deal with occasional leaks since it will just be wet and not sticky.

    • Melissa Wright

      There was no such thing as juice boxes when I was a kid. We didn’t even have juice at home unless it was a special occasion. We either got a milk from the cafe when we packed a lunch or drank from the water fountain. The only time juice boxes are in my house is when my boyfriend buys them ..and then I find the empties all over the damn house! I don’t get it!!!!!!!!

  • FlorenceQuiet Storm Teagle

    I started making my own french fries. I bought this gadget off of HSN (20 bucks) and now I have fresh fries whenever I want. Frozen fries are about four dollars a bag. I also use this gadget to dice onions and peppers. Another savings. I usually spend $1.59 for a small bag of frozen chopped onions, now I make my own saving me a room of money.

    • Those are great tips to help you save. If we find all these little ways to save, it ads up to be big savings at the end of the year. Great job!

      • George

        I agree Cindy. Let’s not forget all the love that goes into the homemade food too.

    • George

      Aren’t home made french fries great? When I was a kid, my mother always made things like that. The other day, I made homemade mac & cheese. My grandkids hated it. They prefer the boxed stuff with all the additives and chemicals. Go figure.

    • misterbill

      Who pays $4 a bag for french fries? How much do potatoes cost you, or do you grow your own?

      • MicheleAna

        I buy a fifty pound bag at restaurant depot for $12 and share with family. We go through it every six weeks or so depending on the time of year.

  • Kara g

    No more napkins or paper towels unless you are entertaining. Buy 18 count wash cloths at Walmart to use as “fancy” cloth napkins and to clean up spills. $4 and you can reuse them 100’s of times.

    • misterbill

      What’s the cost of water to clean the wash cloths? Napkins are so cheap, under a penny each when on sale.

      • Michelle T.

        I have cut way down on paper towel use this way. I have old towels in the laundry room, when there is a spill, use them. Then just throw into the washer, and it will be washed along with whatever the next load of laundry is.

      • bobbi

        I throw them in with my towels at the end of the week with a little bleach. plus you are not creating garbage. I got mine at goodwill. I have many for the 5 of us.

    • Gail

      What a great idea! I made a bunch of washcloths for my spa events. They cost me about 27cents each
      to make. I was trying to figure out what to do with the “not so perfect” ones. Now I know! Thanks!!

  • erica

    My kids LOVE baked mac -n- cheese. Most of the time I use cheese ends which makes it more flavorful. Reusable napkins sounds great. I’m ALWAYS doing laundry with four kiddies, its the making sure they don’t get shoved under the couch or bed that worries me.. But i’m still going to try it..Thanks for the idea

  • Ang in CT

    I don’t buy magazines at the grocery store. I use rewards from pampers gifts to grow to get my subscriptions. I figure after all the diapers I change I deserve a little treat for myself. By the time a subscription runs out I’ve likely gotten enough points for a renewal.

  • ncblonde

    I know not everyone uses small trash bags around the house, but our household has to, so I stopped buying them because they have gotten so expensive. Instead I reuse the store plastic bags (that don’t have holes in them of course..hahaha).

    • George

      I’ve been doing that for years. Besides the cost savings, it’s a great way to recycle. My husband also uses those bags to tote his lunch to work.

    • bobbi

      I actually use the big wrapper that goes around the big thingy of toliet paper as a garbage bag-and I also use those bags that they request donations-I donate to goodwill and upward foundation-don’t need bags. 🙂

      • Frugalqueen

        I use the plastic lunchmeat baggies for my sandwich – saves foil or ziplock bags

    • Sunil

      I also do this in my household. I learned it from my mom who’s been doing it ever since I can remember. For a long time, I didn’t know actual trash bags existed. I just assumed that’s what grocery bags were for. LOL.

    • Tabitha Imnottellin

      we do this as well. and also we reuse dog and cat food bags as trash bags.

  • geminijeanna

    I disagree with this list – yes some are so easy to make yourself – if you have the time, the money and the stuff to do it – people have to pick and choose their “battles” and sometimes bottled salad dressing or baby food just makes more sense.

    • Melissa D

      Yes. agreed. Some of these are very personal choices… like making baby food vs buying. I made my own while a stay at home mom and then started buying with coupons when I went back to work. I think the produce in season and at the farmers market is always a good idea…but some things.. although more expensive, are purchased based on convenience. I buy the small cups of applesauce for my son’s lunch – it’s easy to toss one in his bag, versus me scooping it out of a larger container and putting it in a reusable container and praying it doesn’t leak all over. The convenience is worth the extra price in that circumstance.

  • Melissa Wright

    I try not to buy anything that isn’t on my list. My rule is that I leave it there ..but if the next day I’m still thinking about that great deal I must have or that neat thing I need in my life then I go back and get it. Only went back once a long time ago. Before I used to go into Walmart for one thing and come out with a ton of things I didn’t need and a high bill. I don’t let them play their Retail mind games on me any more!

  • Heather Greentree

    Wow!! My daughter takes a reusable BPA free water bottle in her lunch that can be filled at the water fountain throughout the day. If it gets left at school then it’s there waiting for her the next day to be filled at the water fountain. Plastic water bottles are terrible for the environment!
    Juice should only be given as a treat. Trust me if they get thirsty enough they’ll drink water.

  • Tabitha Imnottellin

    We have opted to invest in a canning cooker and we now take a weekend a month and cook soups, spaghetti sauce, apple sauce. We buy vegetables from our local farm store and we get whats called seconds or canning vegetables. so much cheaper and does not have the oils and things the grocery stores rubs on them. By canning our own we have saved a couple 100 a month on these items.

  • carrie

    Don’t buy lunchmeat at the grocery store if you already have a BJ’s membership. The price per lb. can run $1-3 (or more sometimes) less per pound than the grocery stores. My BJ’s carries Land o Lakes american cheese for around $3.49-3.79….other supermarkets can be $5.79 and up for the same cheese.

  • carrie

    Milk…. supermarket prices can be higher than your local convenience store. BJ’s or your local Aldi’s.sometimes also may have lower prices.

  • Ellen C. Derby

    it’s much less expensive to purchase plain raw meats and do all the prep yourself vs. oven ready meats (such as those pre-marinated, or prepped in a roll with veggies and cheese for example), it’s healthier and less costly to grate your own cheese. and seriously, all those products aimed at children such as go-gurt and lunchables…. very pricey and poor quality. lastly, I do buy them but truthfully, store bought cookies are horrendously high… the size and number for the price you pay is outrageous… an hour in your kitchen 1-2 times a week (once to make dough and once to bake it) and you can have a batch of cookies that should last 5-7 days. 🙂 coupons aren’t everything! ( but they can help)