Avoid These Unhealthy Grocery Store Items At Any Cost

The wide variety of options and packaging at the grocery store can sometimes be overwhelming, especially when you’re looking for the healthiest food choices. Many everyday items can be filled with too much sugar, salt, carbohydrates, and other unhealthy additives that can put your health at risk. The United States Department of Agriculture found that almost 60 percent of Americans purchase ‘junk food’ every week that does not offer proper nutrition. If you’re aiming to only bring the healthiest foods home, these are the items that you want to avoid.

Many Blueberry Flavored Items Don’t Have Real Blueberries

blueberry muffins in a basket
Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The grocery store aisles are usually stocked with numerous items that are said to be “blueberry flavored,” but a large amount of those items don’t contain any blueberries at all. Products such as breakfast cereals, muffins, granola bars, and sauces may claim to be flavored with blueberries, but it’s actually an artificial flavoring.

A healthier alternative to satisfy your blueberry craving is to purchase whole blueberries and incorporate them into the food of your choosing. Blueberries are filled with antioxidants and many essential vitamins that make them part of a balanced diet.

Boxed Mac And Cheese Is A Nutritional Disaster

closeup of boxed kraft mac and cheese
Kevin Schafer/Getty Images
Kevin Schafer/Getty Images

Mac and cheese is usually considered to be a top meal choice for kids, but a wide variety of boxed versions are significantly unhealthy. Nutritionist Janine Whiteson, RD found that one serving of the most popular boxed brands of mac and cheese has two days’ servings of trans fats and over a day’s worth of sodium.

Boxed mac and cheese also lacks many nutritional elements that make up a balanced diet. There is virtually no fiber and many contain numerous additives and chemicals that have been banned in other countries around the world.

Juice Has An Alarming Amount Of Sugar

orange juice lined up in a grocery store
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Juice may seem healthy because most flavors are said to have rich amounts of fruits and vegetables. Some juices contain antioxidants and vitamin C, but the vast majority are full of liquid sugar. A peer-reviewed journal called The Lancet found that fruit juice usually contains as much sugar as sodas such as Coca-Cola or Pepsi.

Some healthier alternatives are juices made purely of low-sugar fruits including blueberry and pomegranate. An even healthier alternative is to make your own juice using natural ingredients, avoiding the added preservatives and sugar.

Energy Bars Are Filled With Extra Calories

a teen boy eating an energy bar and wearing earbuds
BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

A top reason for buying protein or energy bars at the grocery store is that they are widely considered to be a convenient nutritional snack and a healthier alternative to candy bars. While there are nutritious energy bar options available, this isn’t the case for all of them.

Many energy bars contain high amounts of fat and sugar that have just as many calories as a regular candy bar. Instead, grab a piece of fruit with lots of vitamins, a probiotic yogurt, or a small handful of nuts to satisfy your snack time hunger.

Why Gluten-Free Junk Food Isn’t A Better Alternative

gluten free products on a grocery store shelf
Thomas Samson/AFP via Getty Images
Thomas Samson/AFP via Getty Images

Those who suffer from celiac disease or have a gluten intolerance turn to the gluten-free label when making food purchases at the grocery store. There are quite a few gluten-free alternatives that are both delicious and nutritious, but there are several that can mislead the consumer into believing they’re healthy.

Gluten-free snack foods such as chips, cookies, and candy are often loaded with massive amounts of sugar, salt, refined grains, and saturated fat to give the food flavor. These ingredients can rapidly spike blood sugar. Choosing a gluten-free snack that is completely whole grain is a healthier choice.

What’s Really Inside Frozen Pizza

Employees add pineapple pieces to frozen pizzas on a production line
Jens Büttner/picture alliance via Getty Images
Jens Büttner/picture alliance via Getty Images

In order to keep frozen meals such as pizzas fresh for a long time, they are made with large amounts of chemicals and preservatives. Specifically, frozen pizzas are chalked full of calories, fat, sodium, carbohydrates, and sugar. These frozen pizzas are mass-produced in factories and aren’t always made with the healthiest ingredients.

If you insist on buying a frozen pizza there are healthier options available, including cauliflower and keto crusts. Making dough at home is relatively simple, which can be topped with fresh vegetables and other low-calorie, high-fiber alternatives.

French Fries And Potato Chips Are Carcinogenic

Lay's potato chips pack on a grocery store shelf
Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Healthline found that whole, white potatoes are actually very healthy, but the majority of the potato byproducts lack many nutrients. Products such as french fries and potato chips are extremely high in calories, salt, and fat and contain carcinogenic substances. PubMed Central completed several studies concluding that the byproducts directly contribute to weight gain.

The best way to eat white potatoes is to boil them in water, not fried in oil. When potatoes are fried, baked, or roasted it releases harmful chemicals that can cause cancer. Some snacks that can relieve the crunch cravings are baby carrots, nuts, or jícama.

Packaged Meat Can Make You Very Sick

packaged bologna in a grocery store
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

There are severely high amounts of sodium packed into processed meats. These can include bologna, ham, sausage, turkey, hot dogs, bratwurst, roast beef, bacon, pepperoni, Spam, and more. PubMed Central found that people who regularly consume packaged meats are at a higher risk for serious ailments such as colon cancer, type 2 diabetes, kidney failure, and heart disease.

This doesn’t mean that you have to give up meat entirely. The deli counter and local butchers have fresh meat choices that don’t contain the unhealthy preservatives and saturated fat that pre-packaged meat does.

Don’t Go Overboard On The Salad Dressing

a bottle of parmesan and roasted garlic salad dressing
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

Consuming salads is a great way to maintain a balanced diet, but the tricky part comes down to the salad dressing. Bottled salad dressing can have a lot of sodium, sugar, and saturated fat. They also don’t stay true to serving size, causing people to consume at least a tablespoon more than recommended.

While limiting your intake of salad dressing can be difficult, nutrition experts say to try and skip it altogether. They suggest topping a salad with some avocado, poached eggs, or marinated vegetables to give it extra flavor.

Toaster Pastries Have No Nutritional Value

Jerrod Niemann holding up a piece of toaster strudel with a music note written in icing
Rick Kern/Getty Images
Rick Kern/Getty Images

Initially geared towards children, toaster pastries have become popular for breakfast, a snack, or a dessert option. Unfortunately, there is nothing nutritious about them. They have no protein and are made up of sugar, fat, food coloring, palm oil, and high fructose corn syrup.

Many toaster snacks are fruit-flavored but don’t contain actual fruit. It may be deceiving that they don’t usually have over 200 calories, but the added sugars and refined flour are not healthy in any amount. Even worse, packaged toaster pastries have little to no nutritional value.

Sweetened Cereals Aren’t Part Of A Balanced Breakfast

a cereal aisle at the grocery store
Jeffrey Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day, but for many people, it isn’t full of nutritious ingredients. There are some cereal options that make for a healthy breakfast choice, containing natural ingredients and low sugar. However, that’s not the case for most cereal brands.

The majority of breakfast cereals are unhealthy because they have alarming amounts of added sugar, preservatives, additives, and more. Cereals such as Reese’s Puffs, Cocoa Pebbles, and Golden Grahams are prevalent on the cereal aisle but are filled with tons of calories, sodium, and artificial colors that can spike blood sugar and possibly lead to serious illnesses.

White Bread Can Be Detrimental To Your Blood Sugar

white bread slices stacked on a tray
Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images
Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images

There’s quite a big difference between store-bought and homemade bread. Most homemade bread only contains simple ingredients, but plenty of brands sold at the grocery store contain at least 20 different ingredients and additives. One of the worst ingredients found in store-bought bread is refined wheat.

White bread is very low in fiber and essential nutrients and can cause rapid spikes in blood sugar. It may be the best choice to make your own bread, but if that’s not possible Ezekiel or whole-grain bread are better options. These contain far fewer carbohydrates and preservatives.

Noodle Soup Kits Are One Of The Worst Meal Options

a golfer holding a giant Cup Noodle
Toru Hanai/Getty Images
Toru Hanai/Getty Images

Noodle soup kits are often grouped with young college kids because they are very cheap and quick to make. They are also one of the unhealthiest items to purchase at the grocery store. There is absolutely no nutritional value to them and many brands contain harmful chemicals and preservatives.

One such preservative is called tertiary-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ), which is a byproduct from the petroleum industry. Other destructive ingredients include high amounts of sodium, tons of empty calories, and saturated fat. The sauce packet that melts into the noodles can also clog arteries.

Which Kind Of Ice Cream Is The Best?

two ice cream cones with yellow and red ice cream
Patrick Seeger/picture alliance via Getty Images
Patrick Seeger/picture alliance via Getty Images

Ice cream can be a nice treat on a hot day, but a lot of varieties and brands lack nutritional ingredients. Ice cream usually has a ton of sugar and since it’s a dairy product, it’s also high in calories. Even vegan ice cream made with coconut milk can be higher in saturated fat and sugar than dairy ice cream.

Those who want to avoid dairy can choose soy, almond, coconut, or cashew milk ice cream, but dairy ice cream is actually a bit healthier than non-dairy.

Get Rid Of This Ingredient In Your Canned Fruit

Workers inspect canned fruit at a workshop
Visual China Group via Getty Images
Visual China Group via Getty Images

Sometimes buying pre-packaged fruit can be a time-saving tactic, but there are certain varieties to avoid. Any canned or packaged fruit that comes with liquid syrup should not be consumed. These heavy syrups are loaded with unnecessary sugars and artificial sweeteners, which can be harmful to the gastrointestinal system.

Instead, try purchasing fresh or frozen fruit. If you need to get canned fruit, make sure to only buy the ones that say they’re packed in “100 percent juice.”

White Rice = Empty Calories

closeup shot of white rice
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

White rice is a refined grain that can easily lead to weight gain. One study found that people who ate white rice five or more times a week increased their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 17 percent. It also has a high glycemic index, which quickly converts carbohydrates to sugar in the bloodstream.

This food is also highly processed and lacks many essential vitamins and minerals that can be found in brown rice. Eating white rice regularly can also increase blood pressure, cause cholesterol levels to spike, and increase the risk of heart disease.

Pay Attention To The Ingredients In Popcorn

popcorn in individual containers on a table
Erik Voake/Getty Images
Erik Voake/Getty Images

Popcorn may be high in fiber, but several versions completely slather on unhealthy ingredients. Some varieties contain palm oil, which is a major cause of inflammation. Others put on a heavy candy glaze that is doused with added sugars. Even some popcorn brands that claim to have fewer calories fill their product with heavy fat, oils, cheese, buttermilk, and more.

The best thing to do is avoid any brand that is popped using palm oil and find ones that use either coconut oil or olive oil. Buying kernels and popping them at home either on the stove or in a popcorn popper can be a healthier alternative.

Regularly Eating Fruit Snacks Isn’t The Greatest Idea

assorted fruit snacks against a lime green background
Joan Slatkin/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Joan Slatkin/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Most varieties of fruit snacks will say that they are fat-free, but there are several bad ingredients that some shoppers might miss on the labels. Most gummies have a lot of added sugar and tons of food coloring. Nutritionist Danielle Hamo states that eating fruit snacks “will probably lead to increased hunger.”

She goes on to say that they “have no fiber to prevent your blood sugar from spiking and crashing.” Similar products such as fruit roll-ups contain high amounts of corn syrup, sugar, palm oil, and a wide variety of artificial colors.

Tomato Sauce Isn’t As Healthy As You Thought

tomato sauce displayed on grocery store shelves
Jeffrey Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

It can be convenient to buy a jar of tomato sauce, instead of making the sauce at home. However, making tomato sauce at home is a far healthier option. The Healthy found that popular brands of store-bought tomato sauce have around 12 grams of sugar and 20 percent of the day’s recommended sodium intake in just one serving.

Before buying jarred tomato sauce make sure you recognize the ingredients listed because that’s where a lot of the hidden sugars and sodium are found.

Don’t Overeat A Frozen Pot Pie

frozen Marie Callender's chicken pot pie box
Kevin Schafer/Getty Images
Kevin Schafer/Getty Images

Frozen pot pie may seem like a healthy meal because it contains mostly vegetables and meat, but it’s actually one of the most unhealthy grocery store purchases. One frozen pot pie usually has around two servings, yet the majority of consumers eat one pot pie per person.

These are usually loaded with saturated fat and sodium and contain far more calories than someone should consume in one meal. The outer pastry and gravy inside the pot pie are what makes it unhealthy, so an alternative can be to cook up just white meat chicken and steamed vegetables.

Pick Up the Exotic Fruit Someplace Else

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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 mindset on trying some exotic fruit, check a local specialty store.

The Better Alternatives to Bottled Water

bottled-water-19008
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.

Snack-Size Bags Are a Rip Off

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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.

We’re Spilling the Beans on This Canned Beans Secret

canned-beans-39333
Fairfax Media via Getty Images via Getty Images
Fairfax Media via Getty Images 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

pancakes-93822
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.

Step Away From Grocery Store Kitchenware

kitchenware-53717
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.

How Grocery Stores Scam Shoppers with Diapers

diapers-84591
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

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Nail FattakhovTASS via Getty Images
Nail FattakhovTASS 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

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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-31210
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.

The Trick for Owning Amazing Cleaning Products

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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

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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).

Where to Look for Light Bulbs

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Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
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.

What to Look for in Pre-Arranged Flowers

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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.

What’s Lurking in Shredded Cheese

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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.

Pass The Beer

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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

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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

grocery-store-cake-69744
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

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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.