5 Items We Never Buy From The Grocery Store

Supermarket interior with shopping cart

As a mother and a wife, I go to the grocery store quite often. For everything on a huge grocery list or some quick ingredients I forgot for a dish, the grocery store (unfortunately) sees me a lot.  But that’s good for you.  Over the years, I’ve learned a few things about my neighborhood grocery store and big box chain grocery stores. For you and your family’s health, here are items you should never buy.

1.) Name Brand Spices

How did spices at the grocery store get so expensive? Even basics like cinnamon and garlic powder seem to get pricier all the time — forget about the fancy stuff like saffron and whole vanilla beans.

Consumer Reports ran a blind taste test using pricey name-brand spices versus cheaper generic versions in different recipes, and asked tasters to compare them. For the most part, the tasters couldn’t tell them apart. “You don’t need to spend more unless the spice is the main attraction,” Consumer Reports said in this video.

It also has to do with the packaging and date of the spice. As long as the spice hasn’t been on the shelves for long periods of time and are packed in a sealed container, most grocery store spices are the same.

Here’s a better idea: Skip the grocery store spices completely and head to the nearest health-food store where spices are sold in bulk. Buy those spices that use most often and keep them in a sealed ziploc-style bag at home — it’s much cheaper and keeps your spices fresher. Another option is to grow your own herbs and have a supply of fresh basil, oregano and thyme always on hand.

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2.) Anything sold in the checkout line.

Candy, magazines, cube-shaped breath mints covered in flavor crystals (who eats those besides kids anyway?), tiny packages of mixed nuts–these encapsulate the epitome of the impulse buy. Such individual tidbits are priced far higher than their bulk counterparts found a mere few aisles back. Why? Because they are what grocery store execs call at the “point of purchase.”

Once you’re in that line, it’s hard for a consumer to get out of line and go somewhere else in the store just to get an item. So all those items, in the checkout are impulse buys. Meaning you buy them because of what you’re feeling right then (hungry, thirsty, interested, etc).

Plus, let’s be honest, if you didn’t buy it before you got to the checkout lane, you probably don’t actually need it.

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3.) Food that’s already cooked.

If someone else cooked it, you’re going to pay for that service with almost no exceptions. Frozen dinners, prepared hot meals, salad bars, packaged sandwiches, rotisserie chicken, and that like are all more expensive than their raw component parts.

Now that’s not to say there’s no place for the occasional packaged/pre-made meal in the home, but on average, most of the pre-made meals have way too much sodium, too much fat and aren’t seasoned the way you like in the first place. You usually get them for convenience.

To make eating at home easier, plan your meals and then cook them late at night or early in the morning to get them out of the way of your work day.

4. Lunch-ables

I know we’re going to get a lot of flack for this one, but Men’s Health magazine named them as one of the worst…