We've all done it, been in the grocery store checkout lane and had a craving for a candy bar or read something interesting on the cover of People. Before you know it, you've added an extra $10 to your bill that you never planned on.
It's easy to get carried away at the grocery store, and by the time you checkout wonder where you spent all your money. Here are 10 things you should never be buying at the grocery store.
1. Herbs and Spices
At the grocery store, you can easily drop $5 on a bag of herbs or spices to fill your pantry. Instead, head to your local bulk store or ethnic foods market and pay a fraction of the cost for your flavors.
For fresh herbs, skip the high-priced bunches of basil and parsley, and just grow your own. They require little maintenance and will save you a substantial amount of money on your grocery bill. Even in an apartment, you can have a small window box and have a successful selection of herbs to cook with.
2. Snack-Size Food
Individually packaged snacks will often give you less food for more of a cost. While it may be easier to grab a bag of prepackaged cookies or crackers and toss it in your lunch pail, you're paying substantially more for the convenience. Instead, buy the regular or family size and use a container or sandwich bag to portion out the amount you want.
"The cost per serving is significantly more than if you purchased a full sized bag and simply divided the servings into smaller zipper bags," registered dietitian nutritionist Lauren Harris-Pincus said "Almonds in 100-calorie packs ring up at almost 50% more per ounce than larger bags of almonds. I suggest buying nuts like pistachios in bulk and separating them in to smaller servings. You get about 30 pistachios for 100 calories."
3. Baby Food
Next time you walk through the baby section of the grocery store, don't stop to look at the pouches and jars of food. While it may be easy to just add your little one's food to your grocery bill, you can often find it cheaper through online retailers.
You can also try to make your own baby food and save yourself a ton of money. Steaming and creaming your own fruits and vegetables and putting them in the freezer is an easy way to feed your little one on a budget.
Unless you see a sales sticker, skip buying your alcohol at the grocery store. Your booze may end up costing you between 10-20% more than at warehouse stores like Costco. Also, keep an eye out for sales at liquor stores and stock up on your favorites when they're cheaper.
If you're worried about how much your health care costs are hurting your budget, it may be time to switch pharmacies. Grocery stores are known for having the highest prices for prescription drugs, so if you are paying for them out of pocket, you may want to try an independent pharmacy or Costco for your drugs.
6. Bottled Water
25% of consumers buy their bottled water from the grocery store, while one-third buy in bulk from places like Costco to save money. Since bottled water is just filtered water, invest in a water filter and BPA-free water bottle and save on the water you consume.
While it may be easy to grab a pack when you're out shopping, it's not always the most cost-effective use of money. Buying your diapers online or at a department store is often way cheaper than buying them at the grocery store.
While it is a usual staple on the grocery list, if you can stand the crowds, you will pay less for your gallon of milk at a warehouse store than if you were to buy it along with your other groceries.
Whether it's Lucky Charms or Mini Wheats that your family goes through each week, picking up a box of cereal at regular price at the grocery store will definitely cost you. Not to say that warehouse stores are the solution to saving money on your food each week, they will definitely help cut some costs when you buy in bulk.
Most pre-made things at the grocery store will cost you, but cakes are one of the worst for mark-up. It's mostly because you're paying for the baker's time and expertise. For a fraction of the cost, you can bake one at home. If you don't have the time or skill to pull this off, you can always enlist a local shop where you will pay a similar price as the grocery store for a much higher quality.
What do you avoid buying at the grocery store?