Do Not Buy Any Of These Items At The Grocery Store

One of the nice things about grocery stores is that they sell practically everything you’d need. Unfortunately, there are certain items in their inventory that are extremely overpriced. Products such as magazines, toilet paper, and kitchenware are all easily found at the grocery store, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other places where consumers can find cheaper-priced versions. Those who are on a strict budget or are just looking to save some money can learn what common items you shouldn’t pick up on the next supermarket run.

Make the Salad Dressing at Home

a couple bottles of newman's own salad dressing
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

When perusing through the grocery store aisles there are usually hundreds of salad dressing options. While some people can’t get through their meals without some ranch or ceasar dressing, it is actually a product that experts say is very overpriced.

Store-bought salad dressings usually have a lot of unnecessary ingredients and cost between three and ten bucks. Many dressings can be made at home with just a few ingredients such as lemon, olive oil, and pepper, which don’t cost more than a dollar.

Go to the Warehouse Store for Pet Food

a small white dog eating dog food on the grass
Gavriil Grigorov/TASS via Getty Images
Gavriil Grigorov/TASS via Getty Images

Grocery stores usually devote an aisle or two to just pet products. They may have a similar selection of pet food that people may find at a pet store, but it won’t last long. It’s best to buy pet food at a warehouse store such as Costco, Target, or Sam’s Club.

This is because the food is sold in bulk. For example, there can be a certain brand of pet food that costs $15 at the grocery store, but at a warehouse store it can be the same price, but double or even triple the amount.

Walk Past the Gift Cards at the Checkout

two men and a teen girl sitting on a beach holding a gift card
Mark Rightmire/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images
Mark Rightmire/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images

Gift cards can be the perfect present for anyone because receivers are able to buy exactly what they want. A lot of the time customers can find a great variety at their local supermarket in categories such as restaurants, music, and online retail stores. If they are bought at the grocery store it’s usually for full price.

Many warehouse stores, especially Costco, can give good deals on gift cards. For example, someone can buy $100 worth for only $80. If the warehouse store doesn’t have exactly what you’re looking for, there are many gift card reseller websites that do the same.

What’s Lurking in Shredded Cheese

a bowl of orange and white shredded cheese
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

There’s no denying that cheese is one of the most popular products bought at grocery stores, but there are certain types that consumers should avoid. Pre-shredded or grated cheese may be easy and convenient, but they have some abnormal things hidden inside.

The companies that make the pre-made cheese tend to add non-cheese fillers, including wood pulp, that can take up 50 percent of the bag. It’s smarter to buy a block of cheese and grate it yourself.

What to Look for in Pre-Arranged Flowers

a man looking at the pre-arranged flower selection in front of a store
Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

It’s difficult to ignore the vibrant and colorful flowers that are usually out in front of grocery stores. They can be a good gift or congratulatory gesture, but there are also some cons to buying the pre-arranged bouquets at the supermarket.

Grocery store flowers tend to be less fresh than those at a florist, so they will usually wilt faster. They also may have a lot of unnecessary greenery or weeds around them that take up a lot of room. If someone needs to buy them at grocery stores it’s best to get single varieties with buds that aren’t fully opened.

Where to Look for Light Bulbs

light bulbs strung out on a flat surface
Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Grocery stores don’t only have food to pack your pantry, but they also have a lot of common household items. One object that many sell are light bulbs. It may seem convenient to pick up a few of them while out at the supermarket, but it’s advised that customers head somewhere else.

People will get the best value for their money at warehouse stores such as Costco, Sam’s Club, or BJ’s, but there’s also another option. Finance experts searched all over for the smartest deal and they found that Amazon had the cheapest prices hands down.

Pick Up the Exotic Fruit Someplace Else

a woman looking at various types of exotic fruit at a market
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Every produce section tends to have a designated area for various kinds of exotic fruit. These can include starfruit, horned melons, kumquats, and more. The reason they are exotic is because they aren’t as commonly brought to the checkout counter.

Since not as many people buy them they will stay at the store for a longer amount of time, which causes them to lose their freshness. For those who have their mind set on trying some exotic fruit, check a local specialty store.

The Better Alternatives to Bottled Water

a hand reaching for bottled water in ice
Robert Alexander/Getty Images
Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Bottled water may be simple to buy at the grocery store, but there are many different alternatives that consumers should consider. Bottled water can cause a lot of plastic waste that ends up in places such as storm drains or the ocean.

A home-water-filter is probably most people’s best bet in storing water. Bottled water can cost about 1,000 times more than filtering it through a tap faucet. Also, keeping some stainless steel water bottles and straws are a perfect way for taking water on the go and staying hydrated.

You’ll Be Rolling in Toilet Paper with These Purchasing Options

a woman putting toilet paper on a holder in a bathroom
Craig F. Walker/The Denver Post via Getty Images
Craig F. Walker/The Denver Post via Getty Images

There are certain items that are meant to be bought in bulk and toilet paper certainly falls into that category. Grocery stores usually have a toiletry section where they mark up the prices and end up costing customers more money than anticipated.

If you look hard enough there are tons of better deals in warehouse stores such as Costco and Target. For those who prefer to shop online, Amazon offers a Subscribe and Save option where customers can sign up to get toilet paper delivered various times throughout the year.

Step Away From Grocery Store Kitchenware

colorful spatulas on display at a store
Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

It’s expected for grocery stores to have cooking tools and bakeware throughout the aisles. People may see something they don’t have at home that will help them with a new recipe. They may conveniently find a baking pan, spatula, or measuring cups without realizing there are better places to buy them.

Finance experts say that buying kitchenware at the grocery store is overpaying by about 30 percent. They recommend either borrowing the items from friends or neighbors or finding a sale at a retail store such as Macy’s or Home Goods.

We’re Spilling the Beans on This Canned Beans Secret

canned beans
Fairfax Media via Getty Images
Fairfax Media via Getty Images

There are parts of the world where a majority of the population takes convenience into consideration when making purchasing decisions and America is probably toward the top of that list. One product that American shoppers are wasting money on is canned beans and legumes.

On average one can costs around a buck for every 14 ounces, as opposed to a two pound bag of dry beans that averages around $1.59. The only difference is that the beans haven’t been soaked in liquid, which can easily be done at home.

Why Frozen Pancakes Are a Major Flop

a stack of pancakes on a plate with berries, mint, and glass jars of yogurt
Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Almost any food can be packaged as a frozen product. This is especially true for breakfast food. There are frozen pancakes, waffles, french toast, and more. Those who prefer to purchase the frozen options may not realize that they are not budgeting correctly.

Making pancakes at home is simple because you only need a few simple ingredients that can be whipped up in no time. Also, you can usually make a lot more at once that can be frozen for the rest of the week.

Don’t Empty Your Wallet for Greeting Cards

greeting cards displayed at a store
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

It can be easy to get everything at once at the grocery store, but sometimes that means spending more than expected. Greeting cards are a non-food item that are commonly found in most supermarkets. Customers may see them not realizing that it’s probably one of the worst places to add them to their shopping list.

Instead, it’s better to head to stores similar to The Dollar Tree or the 99 Cents Only Store where people can buy multiple at a time to stock up for the future. Greeting cards at the grocery store are usually about five times more expensive than a dollar store.

How Grocery Stores Scam Shoppers with Diapers

five people holding a box of diapers and standing in front of stacks of diapers
Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for Huggies
Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for Huggies

Diapers have a very specific group of people who buy them, which is mainly parents of babies and toddlers. Grocery stores figured out that exhausted parents will be more likely to spend more money on this product for convenience. This markup is at least 50 percent more than other retail options.

Instead of being tricked to paying more consider ordering in bulk from online stores such as Amazon. While there, customers can set up a subscription where diapers and other much-needed baby products can be delivered automatically over time.

Find The Best Deal on Batteries

a bunch of different brands of batteries
Nail Fattakhov/TASS via Getty Images
Nail Fattakhov/TASS via Getty Images

It’s difficult to live a normal life without having some batteries. They have the ability to power so many miscellaneous items and people depend on them daily. Since grocery stores have almost anything, people can pick up a small pack of them, but it may not be the smartest option.

A pack of three or four batteries at the grocery store is about the equivalent to buying them in a bulk pack of 20 or 30 at a warehouse store. If you’re not a member of one of those places, Amazon also includes many of the warehouse deals as well.

Unwrapped Items Can Be Severely Dangerous

unwrapped items
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

While shopping customers may notice that not everything comes wrapped in a protective covering. This is especially true for produce products. When those are placed in shopping carts they are then exposed to a huge amount of hidden germs and bacteria.

A study by the University of Arizona found that nearly three-quarters of shopping cart handles were contaminated with E. coli. The best thing to do is bring a reusable bag or at least use the plastic bags that are provided for free in the produce section. Also, make sure to wash the reusable bags because the bacteria from the cart get on that too.

Flip Through the Magazines Elsewhere

magazines on display at a grocery store
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Another culprit of being overpriced at the grocery store are magazines. They usually have a large selection with topics ranging from fitness, entertainment, cooking, and more. Magazines rely on places like grocery stores because customers may get drawn in by the vibrant covers and choose to put it in their cart.

Buying one there usually will cost around three or four bucks, but there are a lot of publications where people can make yearly subscriptions for around $20. Also, libraries tend to have a great number of magazines that people can read for free.

Snack-Size Bags Are a Rip Off

snack-size bags of chips displayed in a store
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Sometimes people run into the grocery store because they just need to grab a quick food option on the go. These can be items such as single-servings of food and drinks. Many snacks come in smaller bags that can be sold separately.

When a customer is purchasing snack-size bags of food they are usually paying a markup rate of at least 50 percent. Instead, try getting the larger, party-size bag. This way you’ll save money and have extras for later.

The Trick for Owning Amazing Cleaning Products

cleaning products arranged on a tile floor
Monika Skolimowska/picture alliance via Getty Images
Monika Skolimowska/picture alliance via Getty Images

Cleaning products are some of the most essential items to own, but the grocery store is not the place to buy them. There are plenty of other ways to get cleaning products into your home. First, look for deals at big box stores such as Costco or Sam’s Club.

Dollar stores also sell some, but they may turn out to be a little more diluted. For those set getting something at the grocery store just pick up some vinegar, baking soda, salt, and lemon and make it yourself.

Run Away from the Salad Bar

a woman putting together a salad at a salad bar
John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images
John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images

When buying food at the salad bar of a supermarket, consumers are purchasing more than just the salad. They are also paying for the time and preparation it took for the employees to wash, cut, and organize everything. While salad is a healthy choice there are other ways to get the same nutrients for a cheaper price.

Instead, go to the produce aisle and pick up the ingredients found in the salad bar. It doesn’t take too much time to do the prep work at home. Also, many salad bars contain a lot of bacteria because people use the tongs (or their fingers).

Pass The Beer

Customers look at bottles of red wine at Costco's first outlet in China
Tang Yanjun/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images
Tang Yanjun/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images

Not every grocery store in the US sells beer, wine, and liquor. Some only sell beer and wine, while others sell no alcohol at all. For this reason, grocery stores usually rack up the price when it comes to alcohol. Since they can’t sell it elsewhere, they need to make money off of it where they can.

You’re better off visiting a warehouse club for your booze. Liquor stores tend to have a wider selection, lower prices, and better options. The only perk to grocery store alcohol is convenience.

These Toothbrushes Don’t Do Their Job

An Indian customer looks at cheap toothbrushes sells for five Indian rupees on a cart at the roadside in Amritsar
NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images
NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images

If you visit the dentist regularly, then there’s no need to buy a toothbrush at the grocery store. Dentists recommend visiting twice a year to keep your teeth clean and healthy. Every time you visit, they’ll give you a new toothbrush. Hence, you don’t have to buy yours at all.

If you do need to get a new toothbrush, visit a drugstore instead. CVS and Walgreens are constantly putting toothbrushes on sale and often sell them in packs, which saves you money in the future.

Cakes For Parties And Special Occasions

Packaged cake from grocery store that says
Twitter/@jamiestarlynn
Twitter/@jamiestarlynn

Grabbing a birthday cake at a grocery store sure is convenient, but they aren’t cheap. A full-sized cake from a bakery or warehouse costs the same as a small cake from a regular grocery store. In addition, most of these cakes are packed with preservatives. Cakes from independent bakeries are guaranteed to be fresh.

Bakery cakes also include more options and prettier designs. Even if these bakeries charge more than grocery stores, they guarantee better quality cakes. Don’t you want the best dessert for your celebration?

Forgo All Baking Mixes

A two year old girl cooking with her mum in the kitchen as mum prepares a bake mixture.
Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images
Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

Baking mixes like Bisquick sell for their convenience. You don’t have to mix together baking soda, flour, or salt. The trick is that most people already have these items in their home, so they’re spending money on something that they could make for free.

For example, to make a Duncan cake mix, you need sugar, flour, salt, and baking soda. Any regular baker has these items in their home already; they last a long time and can be used for multiple baking sessions. Even though you have to mix more, you’ll save time and money by making a homemade cake or pastry.

Toss Aside Those Cooking Spices

For the food section, As part of the kitchen tune-up, check spices for freshness.
Carlos Chavez/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Carlos Chavez/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Everyone knows that a tiny bottle of cumin costs A LOT at the grocery store. Although the spices there may be convenient, they’re far from affordable. You’ll have better luck (and fresher spices) if you purchase them from a spice shop. Ethnic stores, such as Thai or Indian shops, often sell spices for cheap as well.

In general, spices are far cheaper if you buy them in bulk. Purchase your commonly-used spices from Whole Foods for a better deal. As another option, you can get spices at the dollar store, although their quality is questionable.

The Party Isn’t At A Grocery Store

 Heart shaped balloons in a grocery store in San Diego.
Dünzlullstein bild via Getty Images
Dünzlullstein bild via Getty Images

Like greeting cards, party supplies are a secondary embellishment to grocery stores. They are stocked near the front of the store for convenience. Like many products near the front of the store, they’re often overpriced.

You can buy most party supplies–such as balloons and paper napkins–at the dollar store for much cheaper. You can buy a packet of balloons there for $0.99 instead of $2.99 at Vons. When you’re gathering items for a large party, these dollars add up quickly.

Fill Your Cup Of Joe Elsewhere

Packages of coffee beans are displayed at Cal-Mart Grocery
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

For many people, coffee is their lifeblood, which is probably why a bag costs so much at grocery stores. You’re better off buying the cheaper option from the brand itself. If you like Starbucks, buy them from the website; if you like Peet’s, buy straight from the cafe. Grocery stores buy from these brands and then resell them, which hikes up the price.

If you have a Keurig machine, buy the pods straight from Keurig.com. If you are out and shopping, stop by Staples. Although it sounds silly, Staples has lower-priced coffee than grocery stores, most being around $6.99 to $20.00.

Bread’s Better From A Bakery Outlet

A customer choosing bread at a Pyaterochka supermarket
Artyom GeodakyanTASS via Getty Images
Artyom GeodakyanTASS via Getty Images

Bread is one of the most convenient grocery store buys and, truth be told, it’s not that expensive. If you happen to live near a bakery outlet, though, you might want to rethink where you shop. Bakery outlets practically give bread away, and they freeze quite easily.

If your grocery store has a sale section, check it before you visit the bread aisle. There, they often sell discounted loaves that are past their “best by” date. “Best by” doesn’t mean the bread has gone bad; it’ll still last for a while after you purchase it.

Not The Best Shampoo/Conditioner Sales

Customer chooses a Pantene shampoo in a supermarket.
Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images
Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images

Nowadays, grocery stores often stock up on hair care products such as shampoo and conditioner. As with all complimentary products, these are simply for convenience. Unless these products are on sale, get them elsewhere.

CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid are some of the few stores that allow coupon stacking. For more expensive shampoos, you’ll get the best deal at these stores. They also offer plenty of other hair and skincare products to replenish your haul. Dollar stores have some of the same products for far cheaper.

These Prices Are Far Sweeter

Packages of Equal and Splenda artificial sweeteners are displayed at a coffee shop
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Like spices, sugar is cheaper when you buy it in bulk. We recommend purchasing some from online grocery outlets, since sugar lasts a long time and can transport safely through the mail. If you’re looking for sweeteners such as Stevia, check your local drugstore.

CVS sells pounds of sugar for $2.00 to $3.00, which is the price of Vons’s Club Card Sale deal. Otherwise, sugar costs twice as much at grocery stores. Walmart sells fairly cheap sugar substitutes, although you may find better deals looking up sweetener and vitamin stores online.

Cut That Meat For Free!

A man selling meat at the Guaicaipuro market.
Valery SharifulinTASS via Getty Images
Valery SharifulinTASS via Getty Images

Several grocery stores sell cut-up meat packets for stew and other dishes. While it does seem convenient, stew meat often consists of the cheapest cuts of meat. The package costs more for the convenience of having it pre-chopped.

If you don’t want to chop the meat yourself, get fresh meat from a butcher and ask them to cut it. They’ll cheap up your meat for free, and you’ll receive higher-quality meat. Pre-cut Angus beef costs around $6.99 on the cheap end, while whole meat costs $4.99, depending on how much you purchase.

Save On Cereal

A woman shops for Cheerios cereal at a Price Chopper supermarket
Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images
Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

If you’re a cereal fan, visit the drug store instead of a grocery store. Why? According to Christie Hardcastle, owner of drugstore websites including Wild for CVS, these shops consistently have sales. Because cereal is often expensive at other stores, offering them at a lower price brings in customers.

If you live near a warehouse store, you can buy a two-pack bulk of cereal for far less. This is another product that often appears in a grocery store’s sale section. Remember that most processed grains can be eaten far beyond their “best by” date.

Pay Less To Smell Less

Samples of laundry detergents
Nora Tam/South China Morning Post via Getty Images
Nora Tam/South China Morning Post via Getty Images

Just as grocery stores have upped the prices of shampoo, they also sell detergent for far more than they’re worth. You can usually find detergent, softener, and color catchers for less money at Target or Walmart.

In general, Target has great Tide deals, Oxiclean often goes on sale at Walgreens, and CVS sells the cheapest Purex. Many of these detergent companies offer coupons online. Print them out and bulk up. Oddly enough, it’s cheaper to buy name-brand detergent than generics, especially when you have coupons available.

Don’t Pay More For Cheap Cosmetics

Clearance display in Marshalls discount department store.
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Grocery stores aren’t the best place to buy cheap cosmetics. Although they have the same name brands as CVS, they often cost more–$12.49 mascara at Vons vs. $7.99 at Target. For the cheapest options, browse your local drugstore.

Surprisingly, many cheap cosmetics go on sale at clothing stores such as Forever 21 and Marshalls. If you’re a coupon-hunter, seek out sales for large, inclusive brands like Ulta Beauty. They often promote huge sales online where you can replenish your beauty and skincare needs.

Do You Really Need Swiffer Cloths?

Author Kelly Williams Brown celebrates Swiffer's 18th birthday
Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images
Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

Yes, Swiffer is very convenient. But restocking their cloths is expensive. Packets of dry cloths cost around $10, while wet floor sweepers go for $20. However, Swiffers don’t need their brand cloths to function. They only need a cloth.

To save money, buy cheap cleaning cloths at the dollar store. You can soak them in warm, soapy water before attaching them to the Swiffer. Viola! You get the same product for far cheaper. Better yet, you can wash these cleaning cloths and reuse them later.

Rotisserie Chickens Aren’t What They Seem

Signature premium brand roasted rotisserie chicken sits at a Costco store
Tim Boyle/Getty Images
Tim Boyle/Getty Images

On the surface, rotisserie chickens seem like the best deal in the world. They’re already cooked and cost less than raw chicken. How is this possible? According to an article by The Penny Hoarder, rotisserie chickens are far smaller than the fresh ones. That’s how grocery stores can sell them so cheaply.

Not only are they smaller by default, but the cooking process also shrinks them by 20%, according to the US Department of Agriculture. According to the same article, homemade chickens are cheaper by a dollar per pound when you add up how much meat you get.

Only Buy Canned Goods On Sale

A Japanese woman displays a canned plant shaped like a Campbell's soup can,
YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images
YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images

Because canned goods are a staple in most homes, grocery stores increase the price on most of them. During the colder months, canned soup will have a higher price of 50% in some stores. Only buy them off-season and on sale–they’ll last until next year, anyway.

If you can’t wait that long, buy your canned food online and in bulk. Amazon, Walmart, and even the Dollar Tree sell canned food in bulk year-round. For instance, a pack of four Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup sells on Amazon for only $3.12.

Avoid The Deli Aisle

Shoppers pack the aisles and deli counter at Cook's Fresh Market
Glenn Asakawa/The Denver Post via Getty Images
Glenn Asakawa/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Have you ever wondered why grocery stores place cheeses in two different locations? The answer is that one section includes deli cheeses. These are the fancier cheeses that have shorter shelf lives and require colder refrigeration. If you specifically want one of these cheeses, head toward this aisle.

If you’re looking for generic cheeses, head to the dairy aisle. Sometimes, you can find fancier cheeses here for a lot less money. Better yet: buy them at Target, Walgreens, or Walmart. They often sell cheeses for less.

Beware Of The Berries

Packaged strawberries sold in Tel Aviv, Israel
Michael Jacobs/Art in All of Us/Corbis via Getty Images
Michael Jacobs/Art in All of Us/Corbis via Getty Images

Have you ever bought berries from a grocery store, only to have them go bad a couple of days later? This is common. Fortunately, you can avoid this fate with a few tips. Vice President of Driscoll’s, Valerie Lott, recommends buying strawberries over “variety berries” such as raspberries and blackberries. Those usually cost 30 cents more.

If you have a farmer’s market near you, buy your berries there. They often last longer since they’re picked fresh. Whenever you can, give frozen berries a shot. They’re just as healthy, if not more so, because they’re frozen at peak ripeness.

Got Cheap Milk?

An employee arranges bottles of milk at a Pyaterochka grocery store.
Artyom GeodakyanTASS via Getty Images
Artyom GeodakyanTASS via Getty Images

Milk is one of the primary staples of a grocery store (which is why stores shelve them in the back). Plenty of customers visit shops just for milk. But did you know that drugstores sell them for cheaper? Rite Aid, Walgreens, and CVS all sell milk for 20-25% less than grocery store brands.

If you have a warehouse near you, buy your milk from there. It’s guaranteed to cost less while still maintaining its freshness. Target and Costco also have cheaper dairy selections than most other places.