9 Popular Items You Should Skip at the Grocery Store to Save Money

Some products at the supermarket aren’t worth the price, even if people buy them all the time.

man at supermarket
Updated July 18, 2024
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Grocery trips seem to only be getting more expensive, and rising costs are probably taking a bite out of your budget. But there are some items that just aren't worth the price that are making the situation worse.

So the next time you head to the supermarket, save money on groceries by dropping these items off your list. You just shouldn't be spending your money on them.

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Brand-name products

Tada Images/Adobe shopper pushing a cart loaded with bath tissues

Brand names can be pricey. The cost is higher because companies pay for commercials and other marketing tools to get you to buy their products.

To save money, try generic or store-brand versions of your favorite products. In many cases, the quality of these products matches that of name-brand items.

Pro tip: A genius Costco hack is to buy items with Costco’s in-store Kirkland Signature brand. Those items are likely to save you cash.

Organic foods

Monkey Business/Adobe woman buying fresh fruit and vegetables

The jury is out on whether all organic foods are really more healthful. Many experts have their doubts.

Yet organic foods often are more expensive to buy, so think before purchasing a lot of them. It might make sense to limit your organic purchases to things like produce, where choosing organic helps you avoid exposure to pesticides.

Impulse items at the register

bodnarphoto/Adobe girl stands at the supermarket and waits for a queue

Grocery stores put easy-to-grab items right by the checkout lanes. Perhaps there’s a small fridge with sodas or tempting candy bars and gum on display.

These purchases may be small, but they can add up over time and make the difference between staying on budget or going into debt.

Steering clear of these items each time you go shopping can help you save some extra cash over the course of a year.

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Prepared meals

foodandcook/Adobe preparing a balanced meal for lunch box

Prepared meals can be a convenient way to feed your family, particularly after a long day at work or a busy day at school. But that convenience comes with a cost.

Consider other ways to make quick meals at home. Perhaps you can find some new recipes that don’t take long to prepare. 

You could also do weekly meal preps on weekends so you can easily grab dinner out of the fridge or freezer on a weeknight at a lower cost than what you would pay for a prepared meal.

Pre-cut produce

littleny/Adobe fresh cut fruits in plastic containers in supermarket

Pre-cut produce comes with a healthy dose of sticker shock since you're paying extra for somebody else’s prep work.

Take a good look at pre-cut produce and compare the cost to items you can buy much less expensively if you're willing to do the cutting and cleaning yourself.

Muffins and cookies from the bakery also come with an extra cost simply because someone else did the prep work and baking.

Consider splurging on baked goods when you want a fancy cake or special baked item. Otherwise, a few ingredients from the baking aisle and some work at home can get you the same result for less money.

Bottled water

Suteren Studio/Adobe woman drinking water

Bottled water is one of the biggest wastes of money.

It can come in handy if you need water at home for an emergency or to stock up in case you can’t get fresh water. However, in most cases, a pitcher with a water filter is a great inexpensive alternative to bottled water.

Consider investing in a solid water bottle if you need water when you’re on the go, such as at your office or the gym.

Fresh seafood

Kristina Blokhin/Adobe lobsters and seafood on plate

Fresh seafood can be a good treat. It also makes sense when you’re making a fancy meal to impress someone.

However, for everyday cooking, frozen seafood can be a better option. It lasts longer in your freezer until you’re ready to use it, and it also can cost less than the fresh version.

Locally sourced items

Анна Демидова/Adobe woman chooses ice cream in the store

Maybe you love the ice cream in your grocery store freezer that comes from a local business. Or perhaps you simply want to support local companies. Unfortunately, those local products often come at a premium price.

While it’s great to support local businesses, you might want to limit the number of local items to just one or two if you’re trying to stay within a budget.

Snack packs

Konstiantyn Zapylaie/Adobe woman holds various dried fruits and nuts in her hand

Snack pack versions of items like fruit snacks, chips, or trail mix may be a convenient choice when you’re packing lunch for the kids or getting snacks together for work. But the per-unit cost is often higher than if you bought a whole bag of chips or trail mix.

Consider buying the bigger quantity and picking up some plastic storage items at your local store so you can divide the snack yourself.

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Bottom line

Seventyfour/Adobe man handing credit card to smiling cashier

Your next trip to the grocery store can be less stressful and expensive if you keep a few items out of your cart.

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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.