12 Things You Should Never Buy at Grocery Outlet

Steer clear of these 12 budget-busting buys at Grocery Outlet.
Updated April 11, 2024
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a grocery outlet

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Grocery Outlet takes advantage of deals from companies for surpluses on particular g rocery items or changes in packaging to make groceries more affordable.

The retailer buys items at a deep discount and then passes those savings on to you, which can help you save money shopping and stick to your budget.

But not every deal can be good, so check out some of these items you should never buy when you're at a Grocery Outlet.

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Gorodenkoff/Adobe shopping for organic fruits

One of the first items you should cross off your list at Grocery Outlet is any produce.

There may be a reason the retailer is getting produce at a discount, so check any fruits and vegetables to see if there are issues with rotting food or items that are about to go bad.

You may be better off sticking with a local supermarket that might be more expensive but won't be as likely to get you sick.


Jacob Lund/Adobe female baker with fresh bread

Another perishable item that could be skip—worthy at Grocery Outlet is bread.

Some breads may have preservatives for a longer shelf life, but you should still check bread or buns for mold or other signs that they're no longer fresh.


Tamani Chithambo/peopleimages.com/Adobe looking at drugstore pills

Vitamins can be good way to supplement your nutrition, but you may want to research the vitamins you spot on the shelves for Grocery Outlet.

Vitamins don't have regulations the way medication does, and some vitamin retailers may not be as honest as others regarding what's in their products.

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Lunch meat

Pixel-Shot/Adobe deli meats on wooden board

Meats, including the kind you add to your sandwiches, may not be the best option when shopping at a store like Grocery Outlet.

Check expiration dates to make sure you're buying as close to fresh as possible, and give the packaging a good look as well, just in case.

Your favorite products

pauchi/Adobe bowl of cereal

You may get lucky and find your favorite cereal or snacks on the shelves of Grocery Outlet, but it might not be there every time.

Grocery Outlet's opportunistic purchasing model means it's buying whatever it can based on overruns or surpluses.

That could mean that what you were excited to see available a month ago may not be on the shelf on your next trip.

Dairy products

Elena Medoks/Adobe a glass of milk

Dairy products have expiration dates that are usually much sooner than more non-perishable items.

Keep a close eye on things like milk, cheese, and other options in the dairy section, and only buy items you know you'll be able to finish quickly.


Alexander Raths/Adobe herbs and spices in spoons

Spices have an expiration date, so don't assume their age doesn't matter because they're shelf—stable items.

Spices can lose their flavor over the time so you could waste money on spices that aren't very spicy because they were brought as overstock to sell in Grocery Outlet.


whitestorm/Adobe different kinds of pasta

Pasta can be a great staple in your pantry for an easy meal, but you may want to compare the price at Grocery Outlet and your local grocery stores.

You may be surprised to find pasta priced like other stores, and additional discounts, coupons or sales could push it lower compared to Grocery Outlet.

Single-serve snacks

Drobot Dean/Adobe couple sitting eating snacks

You may be tempted to pick up single—serve bags of chips or crackers from Grocery Outlet to stash in your desk drawer for a quick snack in the middle of a long day.

But compare the prices for those items at Grocery Outlet to the cost of your office vending machine. The prices may be similar, and your vending machine could have a better selection.

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Past expiration date

8th/Adobe man checks product expiration date

You may be surprised to find out that some foods can still be consumed past their expiration dates, and you don't have to stick with them as firm dates.

But that doesn't mean you'll want to eat something past its date. Expired food may have issues with taste or texture.

There's also still a possibility that it could be unsafe to eat, so make sure you inspect it for freshness issues or signs of rot.


monticellllo/Adobe bowls of cereal

Check the cereal aisle with some reservations before grabbing a box from Grocery Outlet.

Many cereals you might find at Grocery Outlet are packed with sugar and marketed to kids.

Instead, try finding healthier options at your local gorcery store that may cost a little more but can also be more filling.


Barbara Helgason/Adobe assorted variety of sour candies

One of the things you may see right as you're checking out is candy in the checkout lane.

You may have a hankering for a candy bar or a sugary treat, but you also may be giving into a product that's there to tempt money out of your wallet without getting you a good deal.

Bottom line

AntonioDiaz/Adobe couple paying for shopped goods

While Grocery Outlet offers savings, remember it's not a one—stop shop for the cheapest groceries.

Be a savvy shopper: compare prices, embrace variety, and prioritize flexibility to maximize your savings adventure at Grocery Outlet.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.

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