12 Items Not to Buy at the Grocery Store

Last updated on March 19th, 2018


Do you dread grocery shopping?  I have a love/hate relationship with grocery shopping.

I still hate meal planning, which is the first step when it comes to getting ready to grocery shop.  But that is probably more because I have not set up a working meal planning system.

I hate the amount of time out of my day grocery shopping takes, but I actually like being in the grocery store (half the reason why I shop at Wegmans!).

I love when I have a perfectly organized grocery list that allows me to minimize my time actually shopping, but I dread the unloading of the groceries.

Not to Buy | Groceries | Saving Money | Budgeting

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Maybe you hate grocery shopping because money seems to fly out of your wallet while you’re there.

Maybe you hate all the food that you waste because you buy too much.

Maybe you have NO idea how to lower your grocery budget.  (If any of these apply to you, be sure to check out this free guide.)

Or maybe, on the other hand, you feel like you have done all you can do to become more organized and spend less money but you still can’t seem to get your spending to where you want it.

–> No time to read now?  Pin this article to your money saving board to come back to later!

I have talked before about how best to grocery shop on a budget, but today I would like you to consider that perhaps the problem lies in what the items are that you deem necessary staples for your household.

I bet there are some things you buy each week or month that you would swear that your family NEEDS, but if you stopped buying them, or replaced them with something more cost effective, you would barely notice them missing.

Below are 12 items not to buy at the grocery store.  Or if you are going to buy them, buy them in bulk or for special occasions only.  You might think some of these ideas are crazy or something you would never do or care about, but if you are trying to cut down on your budget, anything is worth a try!

Related: How to Grocery Shop on a Budget

Bottled Water

While bottled water is not all that expensive, it can add up over time.  It is better for the environment and your budget for you to invest in a reusable water bottle and fill up from your fridge or a Brita filter at home.  My current favorite water bottle is one by Tervis.  I like that it is sturdy and keeps things cold, but it is also cute.  If you really want to get fancy you could invest in a Yeti or something similar.

Soda or Juice

Soda and juice are items that many people love, but are they really necessary?  Soda is definitely not healthy for you and juice is not really that healthy either.

If you really love those items, buy them on special occasions or make that your treat when you go out to a restaurant!  They just add an unnecessary expense to your grocery bill.

Shredded Cheese or Pre-Packaged Cheese

We love cheese in our house, but those bags of pre-shredded cheese can get expensive!  We buy Wegmans brand cheese in bulk (32 oz) and unshredded.  It lasts us so much longer!  You can either shred it all at once if that is all you will be using it for or just shred it or cut off slices as needed.

We also buy our cheese for sandwiches sliced from the deli.  I can choose exactly how many slices I need for the week to help with the overall weekly budget.  Plus, the cheese just tastes better!


Have you ever made your own bread?  It is actually surprisingly easy!  Bread is getting more expensive all the time.  The ingredients are simple and usually, a recipe will make more than you expect and can be more delicious than store-bought bread.

Related: 13 Freezer Meals to Make Your Dinners Easier

Prepared Foods

If you ever find yourself at a really great grocery store (think Wegmans, Whole Foods, etc) and perusing the prepared foods section, you have probably been tempted.  Most of it looks delicious and it is already made.

Unless you are truly in a bind, avoid this temptation as these foods can ALWAYS be made for cheaper.  Same goes for those enticing salad and hot food bars.

Marinated Meats

This pretty much falls under the same category as prepared foods except you might think you are saving a little more money because you still have to cook it.

In reality, you probably are, but also, in reality, you could easily recreate the marinade at home for much cheaper.

Specialty Foods Not to Buy

There is so much pressure to eat fresh, clean, organic foods.  And sometimes it just IS NOT feasible to do all that while sticking to a budget.

If you properly manage your money now there will be a day when you can choose to buy a higher quality aka more expensive selections of foods.

Related: 5 Steps to Create a Budget

Today is not that day.  Choose a few items that are really important to you to buy organic and stick to those.

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Pre-Cut Veggies and Fruits

Healthy foods are expensive enough without wasting money on the fact that they are pre-cut or sliced for you.  Plan ahead and cut all your fruits and veggies at one time before your week starts.

Convenience Foods Not to Buy

Buying items in bulk will almost always be the cheaper way to go.  Single servings of fruit, pretzels, chips, ice cream, nuts, etc. are marketed as making your life easier or your diet healthier, but with that benefit comes a higher price.

Laundry “Extras”

I don’t know about you, but I only use laundry detergent and occasionally stain remover and my clothes are just fine.  You can probably skip all the extras like fabric softener and dryer sheets.  You could even make your own laundry detergent if you are feeling really brave.

Excess Processed Food

It is so easy to grab all the yummy and delicious things in the aisles as you walk by.  But you really don’t need three different types of chips, two boxes of cookies, nuts, dried fruit, hummus, and more every week.

Choose 1-2 snacks for each grocery trip and don’t buy more unless you are out!  This will help you eat healthier as well as reduce your spending.  It also helps to be organized BEFORE you start walking down those aisles.

Related: How to Grocery Shop on a Budget

Name Brand Items

I have talked about this before, but if you are brand loyal to a fault, try replacing an item or two each trip with the store brand and see if you notice a difference!  I buy almost exclusively Wegman’s brand items.  I just made the switch for my peanut butter, and while it is definitely not the same, it is totally doable and worth the savings of HALF the price!

If you are serious about cutting your grocery bill and figuring out where you can save money, you need to get on board with some of these items not to buy and cut them off your grocery list.  If you can’t commit to completely cutting things out, buy them on a special occasion or once a month.  Properly managing your money now, getting your finances in order, and sticking to a budget will allow you MORE freedom in the future to buy whatever your foodie heart desires.

What is something that you have cut from your grocery list that has helped your budget?  Is there anything else you would add to the list of items not to buy?

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2 thoughts on “12 Items Not to Buy at the Grocery Store

  • Rita

    When I was a young mom with three children under 5, I swore I would never complain about grocery shopping again if I could just go by myself. Eventually I could shop solo and actually enjoyed it.
    Well twenty five years later I find myself again complaining. I enjoy cooking but have a hard time planning and buying food to cook for two. We often wasted food because we got tired of eating the same thing– think lasagna. My partial solution it to make these meals, divided them, and freeze half.

    • Erin Post author

      You are definitely great at making meals and dividing them! I think that is a great idea. I am sure it is weird going back to cooking for two after cooking for multiple people for so long. Since E still doesn’t eat what we eat I haven’t had to make the switch yet.