5 Overpriced Foods You Should Not Buy at the Grocery Store

Stop buying these to save in big ways.

I first started buying all my own groceries midway through college when I moved out of my dorm and off of the school’s meal plan.

I could not have been more excited. There weren’t very many vegan options in the dining halls, so when I lived on campus, I had to supplement my required meal plan with my own groceries.

This not only limited the types of foods I could eat (I had to buy mostly foods that were shelf stable since my dorm room only had a small mini fridge), but also increased my overall food expenses, since I was paying for an overpriced meal plan with additional groceries on top of that.

I vowed that when I finally got to ditch the meal plan, I would take full advantage of the opportunity to cook and bake whatever I wanted, while still staying within a tight budget and saving money on food. That’s exactly what I did. It was during this time that I truly fell in love with cooking and baking healthy vegan food from scratch.

The following are five foods you shouldn’t buy at the grocery store. By making them yourself at home, you will not only save money, but they’ll also be much fresher, healthier, and best of all, tastier.

1. This Pasta Staple

When you sit down to eat a fresh plate of spaghetti noodles, the first thing you probably do is load up on the sauce.

Many of us, myself included, buy our pasta sauce pre-made from the grocery store. Depending on the brand you buy, the cost ranges anywhere from around $2 — $4 per jar.

On top of that, canned pasta sauces often includes a lot of added sugar and salt, which can negatively impact your health when consumed in excess.

Recently, I started making my own sauce fresh at home with a can of diced tomatoes, a splash of olive oil, a clove of fresh garlic, and some spices I already have on hand (like oregano and basil). The bulk of the cost comes from the $1 can of tomatoes.

By making this swap, you can save a few dollars per jar. If your family is anything like mine, you easily go through a jar or two every single week. So, this trick could save you $100 per year.

Total Annual Savings: $100

2. Tortillas

If you love burritos and eat them often, you can save a lot of money if you stop buying tortillas at the grocery store. My local store sells them for about $3.00 for 12 tortillas.

Plus, the nutrition label for most pre-packaged tortillas includes a slew of ingredients I’ve never even heard of, including preservatives. On top of that, many of the ones I have tried taste like cardboard.

With just a few simple ingredients, like whole wheat flour, olive oil, baking powder, water, and salt, you can make your own tortillas fresh at home. The bulk of the cost comes from the flour. Since a $2.00 bag of flour contains about 80 servings, the total cost per tortilla is only about $0.02 — $0.03. Therefore, you could easily save $2.50+ per package of tortillas you buy.

My family goes through about one package per week, so this would equate to about $130 saved per year.

Total Annual Savings: $130

3. This Refreshing Beverage

I can’t tell you how many times I see people with their grocery carts stocked full of bubbly waters or cans of soda.

While the soda is certainly worse from a health standpoint due to the high added sugar content, both options will cost you quite a bit of money.

A 12-pack of flavored water or soda costs about $3 — $4. However, if you make your own fresh at home by infusing your water with fresh lemon or lime slices, you can save big.

A two pound bag of lemons costs about $4, and if you put a few slices of fresh lemon in your water each morning, two large lemons should last you about 12 glass of flavor infused water. This comes out to about $0.65, so you’ll save about $3 each week (assuming your family goes through one pack per week).

Total Annual Savings: $156

4. Salad Dressing

Salad dressing is a staple in most peoples’ households. I remember when I was a child, my family usually had at least two different salad dressings in the fridge, and sometimes three.

In reality, it’s quite easy to make your own from scratch at home. I love to use a drizzle of olive oil and some fresh lemon or lime juice, but even if you want to make something a bit fancier, you’ll still avoid all the processed sugar and weird ingredients.

If you do use olive oil, it will cost you about $3.33 for 16 oz. Depending on the type of dressing you normally buy, you may or may not save money on this one. Nonetheless, you’ll avoid the negative health impacts of the bottled dressings with a lot of processed sugar and preservatives.

Most of the dressings that don’t have added sugar and preservatives are more expensive, at about $4 per bottle, which comes out to a total savings of $0.67 per bottle. Assuming you go through two bottles per month, this is a total savings of about $16.08 per year.

Total Annual Savings: $16

5. This Chewy Snack

I know how easy it can be to walk down the packaged snack aisle and load up your cart with fruit snacks, crackers, granola bars, and cookies.

While these products are enticing, they are highly processed and often have a lot of added sugar. Plus, they will cost you less money to make fresh at home.

An eight pack of granola bars costs $2.29 at the grocery store. If you make your own at home with fresh ingredients like oats, peanut butter, maple syrup, cinnamon, and nut milk, you’ll pay about $1.54 less.

When I was in middle school, my family easily went through about two boxes each week, and I’m sure many of you can relate. So, you’ll save about $12 each and every month by making your own granola bars at home. If you need inspiration, try this quick and easy recipe.

Total Annual Savings: $144

Final Thoughts

The foods you eat will impact your life immensely, and their reach goes beyond just your health. If you load up on convenience foods from the grocery store, grab coffees to-go, and eat out often, your wallet will take a serious hit.

I save hundreds of dollars by spending a little bit of extra time in the kitchen making simple foods like granola bars, tomato sauce, etc. from scratch.

Consider ditching the packaged grocery store snack foods, dressings, and sauces for your own homemade versions. They’ll be healthier, fresher, and save you hundreds of dollars (or more) every single year.

Source : Medium