The Ten Groceries You Should Never Buy
Grocery bills seem to be perennially on the rise as retailers try to compensate for increased food growing costs, the higher price of gas across the country, and other overhead items that need to be passed on the consumer. In some areas, though, prices are needlessly high and almost excessive. Shoppers who are looking to manage the effects of higher grocery prices can eliminate at least ten key items from their shopping cart each week to enjoy a lower bill and an easier budgeting process. Here’s a look at ten items that are overpriced and inflating grocery bills everywhere.
At first glance, the prices for bottled water are pretty low, or at least that’s the way it appears to most consumers. But even the few dollars per gallon of bottled water that most consumers are spending is far too much. In fact, most analysts estimate that the average markup on bottled water is an astonishing 4,000 percent. That’s enough to cause more than just a little sticker shock.
Pictured at top: Culligan Faucet-mounted Water Filter
Brand Name Cereal
From Cinnamon Toast Crunch to Special K and Honey Bunches of Oats, name-brand cereal options have among the biggest markups in the entire grocery store. Consumers, on average, pay 44 percent more for major brands than they do for the same cereal offered under the supermarket’s generic label. This is one change that should be easy to make for most consumers.
Kobe and Wagyu Beef
Americans love their Angus, but Kobe beef is rising in popularity at supermarkets. Even so, it represents the single most expensive cut of beef on the market, with four steaks costing as much as $300 at many supermarkets. What’s more, the improvement in quality is negligible, and certainly not proportional to the price being charged for these cuts of meat.
From pre-cut romaine lettuce blends to Caesar salad kits and baby carrots, prepared produce options are among the most expensive items in the grocery store by volume. Worst of all, they’re often sold right alongside fresh, unprepared counterparts that are often less than half as expensive. To cut costs, prepare produce at home and avoid the bagged lettuces of the world.
It’s certainly convenient to pick up a pack of light bulbs in the grocery store rather than heading to a nearby home supply store, but this is one convenience that will drive up the grocery bill. In supermarkets, light bulbs are sold at nearly a 50 percent markup when compared to the exact same product at a home supply store or a local hardware store.
Supermarkets have branched out in recent years to compete with the likes of Wal-Mart and Target, but that expansion has come at a price. The limited supply of notebooks, pencils, and Post-Its at grocery stores can cost shoppers more than a 30 percent premium over the same products at a big box retailer or office supply store.
Brand Name Spices
Take a stroll down any baking aisle at any supermarket and there will be a pretty stark display of spices: One rack carries major brand names, while another displays the supermarket’s own generic brand. Major label spices are up to twice as expensive as generic options, which are indistinguishable from the brand name offerings. With a 100 percent markup on average, this is one product worth avoiding.
The bakery is perhaps the most tempting area of all within a supermarket, but it’s also one of the more expensive. Virtually every prepared bakery product sold to consumers can be created at home for as much as 30 percent less money. That’s a significant savings in an era of tight budgets.
The deli department has become known for offering a blend of cold cuts and prepared dinners, but many of those options will cost a pretty penny. Rotisserie chickens prepared on-site are often twice as expensive as raw whole chickens that can be cooked at home. They’re good in a pinch, but they’re bad for the budget.
Brand Name Coffee
Generic coffee options are actually really affordable, but major labels like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts sold in the supermarket coffee aisle are way too expensive. In fact, they’re usually twice or three times as expensive as the supermarket’s own brand.
Shop Smart; Avoid Expensive Mistakes
From bottled water to baked goods, supermarkets are full of very expensive items that often sit right alongside really great bargains. By shopping deliberately and understanding where the biggest expenses lie, consumers can reduce their grocery budget without sacrificing their favorite meals and snacks.