When you’re doing your weekly, bi-weekly or monthly grocery shopping, how much do you actually spend? Do you make a list of the things that you need to purchase so you don’t overbuy? Do you minimize food wastage by planning your weekly menu ahead of time? If you answered yes to most of these, then you are making the most out of your budget for groceries. You can feed your family well without spending too much, and avoid food wastage.
Here, we will take a look at the top food items that you should never include in your grocery list ever again. Before that, here are a few statistics related to grocery shopping, according to Statista.com:
- For 2013, the average monthly grocery expenditure of consumers in the US for the baby boomer generation is $292.50 and $263.70 for the members of the silent generation.
- For 2014, a household with three or four members spent more than $128 per week on average for groceries.
With the average family spending around $500 per week for groceries, you really need to exert the extra effort in making sure that you are not wasting your money. It will definitely help if you will make an inventory of what’s left in your pantry first before doing your grocery shopping for the week. If you have lots of canned tomatoes, buy cheap meat for stew that you can slow-cook and serve for dinner.
If you have fruits which are about to be overripe, buy ingredients for a simple dessert. Take the number of family members into account and do not overbuy. It’s easier to run to the store to buy a few items that’s missing for a recipe, than having to deal with a lot of extras that you can never really consume within a week. By taking these tips in mind, you can maximize your grocery shopping budget.
25 Food Items You Should Never Buy Again
Next, what are the food items that you should never buy again? If you don’t have a list of groceries to buy, it is very easy to simply reach in the grocery aisles for whatever items you like without thinking ahead. Again, it is very easy to waste food, let food items expire or go bad if you do not plan your meals ahead of time.
There are also plenty of food items which are overpriced, and are very easy and cheap to make on your own. Other reasons why you should steer clear of buying some of the items off this list is that they have a lot of unhealthy ingredients, some are just plain fake while others are a huge rip-off.
Here is our list of the top 25 food items that you should never buy again:
1. Bottled Water
Aside from the fact that individual bottled water containers add up to the non-biodegradable waste on Earth, they are also very expensive. If you don’t have your own water filtration system at home, purchase distilled water in big containers so you won’t have to contribute to the waste, while saving money as well.
2. Coffee Creamer
There are plenty of coffee creamer products in the market which claim to have zero transfat when they, in fact, have less than 0.5 grams per serving size. Considering the fact that you will add about a tablespoon of creamer in your coffee, you will still be actually consuming the transfat even if the label says ‘zero’. Use milk or whole cream instead of powdered creamer, or better yet, stick to black coffee.
3. Energy Bars
Although they would give you a boost of energy, protein bars or energy bars have very high fat and sugar content. They even have as many calories as a regular candy bar. A good substitute to get that boost of energy is to munch on fruits rich in vitamins, or a handful of nuts.
4. Energy Drinks
If you need an extra boost of energy, stick to a cup of coffee instead of a can or bottle of energy drink. The burst of energy that most of these drinks will give you come from sugar and caffeine, and there are even brands with ingredients that have side effects that can lead to heart problems or convulsions.
5. Frozen Fruit Bars
When you visit the frozen section at the supermarket, you will find a lot of frozen fruit bars. These may not necessarily be unhealthy, but they are definitely expensive. Make your own at home using a popsicle mold and you can use the freshest, cheapest ingredients by blending fruits which are in season.
6. Food Items with Cellulose in the Ingredients List
Cellulose is actually wood pulp. This is something that manufacturers use as an extender to add fiber, but you are in turn consuming just that: wood shavings. Never buy food items with this on the ingredients list.
7. Food Items with Blueberry on the Label
Did you know that most of the grocery items with blueberries on the label do not contain even one piece of the fruit? Majority of them are simply infused with artificial blueberry flavor. If you must have blueberry-flavored anything, buy the real fruit and simply incorporate them in your recipes.
8. Gourmet Frozen Veggies
Anything with gourmet on the label will cost you twice as much as if you made your own product from scratch. One example is green peas in herbed butter sauce. Buy your own peas, cook them in a knob of butter and sprinkle with your favorite herbs.
9. Gluten-Free Baked Goods
Baked goods of the gluten-free variety are packed with more refined flours and other artificial ingredients, as well as more sugar. If you were not necessarily diagnosed with gluten intolerance, you’re simply wasting your money adding this to your grocery list.
10. Lunch Packs
Whenever you’re buying something for convenience, you are usually paying a lot more. Instead of buying all-inclusive food trays for snacks or lunch, just grab whatever easy-to-prepare items you have on the kitchen – they’re a lot healthier.
11. Microwave Sandwiches
Pre-made sandwiches are packed with salt, fat and other additives which are not necessarily healthy. If you make your own sandwich at home, you can pack it with all your favorite ingredients and it will be a lot cheaper.
12. Multi-Grain Bread
Most multi-grain breads in the market are white breads masquerading as multi-grain, simply because they have a few grains included in the dough. If you do want to consume grains, go for brown rice, steel-cut oats or quinoa so that you can get a dose of the real thing.
13. Non-Dairy Milks (Flavored)
Go for skim milk instead of flavored non-dairy milks which can cost twice as much. If you must drink this, go for the unsweetened version.
14. Prepared Meat Patties
If you’re craving for burgers, buy ground beef and prepare the patty yourself. Frozen beef patties which are pre-made have a very high fat content, and you’re not even sure about the quality fo meat used.
15. Prepared Pasta Sauces
Canned tomatoes cost under $1 while a jar of prepared pasta sauce goes for up to $6, depending on the brand. During the summer season, you can even get fresh tomatoes for a very cheap price. Stop buying prepared pasta sauces and simply make your own, so that you can save money while maximizing the flavor.
16. Peanut Butter with Reduced Fat
If the label on a peanut butter jar says that it has reduced fat, it probably does have less fat than regular variants. However, manufacturers need to put something back on the recipe to make the peanut butter taste good, and sugar is the culprit. You might not have consumed a lot of fat, but your sugar intake will increase. What you can do is simply buy the regular peanut butter variant and consume less of it so that you won’t have to deal with the extra sugar and calories.
17. Powdered Juice Mixes
Powdered iced tea, orange juice or other flavored drink mixes contain a lot of sugar – more than a can of soda or one slice of pie. If you love iced tea, simply brew your own at home and sweeten it with honey, then fill with ice.
18. Pricey Cheese Variants
One of the most expensive cheese variants in the market is Parmigiano-Reggiano. Although this is a famous type of cheese that can actually take your pasta recipe to the next level, you don’t have to shell out more than $22 a pound for a slice. Better, cheaper alternatives with similar flavors are Pecorino Romano and SarVecchio.
19. Salad Kits
Sure, salad kits are mightily convenient but they also cost twice or even thrice as much as buying individual ingredients from the market. Buy your own greens and mix your own dressing to save money while adding a punch of flavor. You can even make your own croutons simply by toasting day-old bread.
Although there are some canned soup variants which have a classic, comforting taste to it, there are actually lots of soups with hidden unhealthy ingredients. Hydrolyzed protein and autolyzed yeast extract are a couple of ingredients which trick the brain into eating more when you’re already full. Instead of going for the canned or mix variety, cook your own soups instead.
21. Spice Mix
You usually buy a spice mix to use as a rub for meat, but these mixes typically just contain salt and an unknown number of herbs and spices. You can easily create your own mix in the pantry, don’t be afraid to experiment.
22. Smoked/Cured Meats
There’s nothing wrong with indulging your taste for good, smoked meat every once in a while. But consuming smoked/cured meats on a regular basis can lead to artery-clogging diseases. If you must have barbecue nights, buy meat fresh from the butcher and grill it over coal to get that smoky, cured flavor.
23. Rice or Side Dish Mixes
Herbed rice or side dish mixes may sound fancy and gourmet, but you can easily make these yourself. Simply cook the rice according to package instructions and add your own herbs and seasonings.
24. Trail Mix
A bag of trail mix is actually very expensive, although they make for a very healthy snack. To save money, make your own mix by purchasing raisings, almonds, dried fruit and you can even toss in a small pack of chocolate bits as a ‘cheat’. You can keep a trail mix like this in a glass container for up to three weeks.
25. White Rice
Finally, go for brown rice or opt for whole grain rice. You will have lesser risks of having diabetes especially if you consume lots of rice with every meal.
By avoiding adding these items to your grocery list, you can feed your family much more healthily, avoid wasting food and maximize your food budget.