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What Not to Buy at the Grocery Store

When we head to the grocery store as savvy savers, we generally have a game plan in place. We have our coupons, circulars and store policies (and Favado) in hand and we are prepared for most any problem that could come up. Despite these efforts, we will still find ourselves in difficult buying situations.

Grocery stores are smart about what they mark up and what is discounted. Much like drugstores, they know what the average shopper is usually in their stores for. Whatever is not on that list, they mark it up.

As we browse their shelves, we inevitably run into these items and remember needs that were overlooked. This sometimes causes us to buy out of convenience rather than out of logical shopping opinion. The grocery store experts know this and they also know that a decent percentage of those folks will buy at their inflated prices.

So how do we battle this grocery store epidemic of overspending? It begins with knowing some of the worst offenders. Here are several items to NEVER buy at the grocery store:

Cards, Flowers or Gifts

Everyone has done this. The markup on these items is incredible, and you aren’t getting the same quality in many stores on those flowers and gifts. There are rarely savings or sales, and coupons are non-existent. Definitely plan in advance to purchase your cards, flowers or gifts elsewhere so you can get a bigger bang for your buck!

Chopping Veggies

Read this tip for cutting costs by making pre-chopped veggies in batches.

Convenience Foods

The perimeter is great to shop for healthy products, but they also contains LOTS of convenience foods that you will pay a premium for. To give you an idea, pre-diced onions can cost three times more than whole onions. If you must, purchase frozen pre-cut vegetables. Many brands offer coupons on frozen vegetables so you can save too.

The same goes for the pre-cut meats (just have the butcher cut the package you are buying), specialty food bars (salad bars, olive bars, etc) and baked goods. These items are marked up and rarely justifies the convenience for me.

Cosmetics Set Including Lipstick Eye Shadow And Blusher

This tip talks about drugstore copies of high-end products.


Even though many grocery stores are stocked with popular brands of cosmetics and skin care products, you’ll probably pay a premium for every item. Head to the drugstores, Ulta, or even Target to find a better price, and most likely receive a reward on top of that.


So many electronic stores out there have amazing deals for quality brands. Plus, many other stores have great rewards to help you save even more.


Check out all these awesome ways to save on hygiene products.

Personal Hygiene Products

With the exception of a double coupon deal, I steer clear of purchasing hygiene products at the grocery store. The drugstore is the best place to find these items where you can save 80% or even 100% with your purchase thanks to rewards and promotions. When they have these promotions, stock up so you don’t run out.

Pest Control

Wasp and ant killer in the grocery store is grossly overpriced! Compare the prices there and at your local hardware store or a superstore like Target or Walmart. You will feel sick.

School Supplies

Imagine walking down that aisle where the school supplies are and you suddenly remembering that you need two more glue sticks to complete your kid’s school supply list. You glance up and see that you can get two of them for a mere $4.99. You know you can get the same thing at the Dollar Store for only a buck, but you grab it anyway so you can check that box.

We’ve all been there, I know. Plan to stock up during the back to school shopping season so you don’t have to be tempted to purchase supplies at the grocery stores.

Homemade Taco Seasoning Recipe

This simple recipe for Homemade Taco Seasoning will be a grocery money-saver!


Spices can be crazy expensive at the store for a teeny tiny bottle. Try purchasing your spices in bulk. You will get 6-8 times MORE this way and can make your own spice mixtures like taco seasoning and french onion mix.

Flea market

Here are tips how different families have saved money on toys.


Every single toy I have ever bought my child in the grocery store has either fallen apart after one hour or cost so much I am embarrassed to admit to it. Neither of these things will ever happen again.

Although there are the occasional exceptions, these items are regularly marked up far more than you need to pay. Use coupons, work the circulars and spend plenty of time comparison shopping to avoid finding yourself standing in the grocery store paying inflated prices. Planning is key to saving, and this rings true for these types of offenders at the grocery store.

Ways to Save Money on Groceries

What to Never Buy at the Drugstores

Learn How to Coupon – Free Coupon Course!

How to Save Money on Groceries Without Clipping Coupons

Shipt or Instacart Grocery Delivery Service Review

Magazines with Coupons


List of things you should never buy at the grocery stores. Discover the best ways to save money on groceries, and what stores to always find the best deals! via @AndreaDeckard

About Andrea Deckard

Andrea Deckard is a personal finance expert and speaker. She lives by the following motto, "save on what you need so you can spend on what you want." She started Savings Lifestyle in 2008, and long-time readers remember the site as Mommy Snacks. Andrea is a go-to resource on frugal living for local news outlets such as WDTN, WGRR, and as well as national outlets like Good Morning America. She has also been featured in multiple national publications.


  1. Donna on January 22, 2014 at 10:48 am

    I would add paper products like toilet paper and tissues, I can always find these cheaper at a discount store or one of the “dollar” stores. Same goes for cleaning supplies especially laundry soap and fabric softeners.

    • Savings Lifestyle: Andrea on January 23, 2014 at 12:41 pm

      Donna, great additions! I tend to purchase these items at the warehouse clubs now (or make my own cleaning supplies). Thanks for commenting!

  2. Catherene on January 27, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    You can save money by buying pet toys and some treats at Dollar Tree or other true dollar stores. I even buy pet food dishes at Dollar Tree too. If in stock I buy name brand bread there as well for $1.00 over $2.79 a loaf.. You just need to know your prices at other stores including use of coupons. Sometimes I’ve gotten a better deal at the dollar store, other times at WalMart or Kroger’s. Now I will buy most of my cleaning supplies and fabric softener at Dollar Tree but I won’t buy detergent because it didn’t get clothes clean enough. I use coupons to buy my favorite brand. Sometimes quality outweighs quantity.
    Also if you have a discounted bakery where you shop such as Flowers Bakery, you can save by buying many breads and snacks there. My nearest is 20 miles away so I go once a month and stock up on Tasty Cakes – get for $1.00 a box instead of $3.00 and they stay good for weeks when stored properly beyond the sell by date. Bread is $2.97 for any 3 types of bread (rolls, buns, loaves and breakfast breads) at the Flowers Bakery I shop at in WV.

    • Savings Lifestyle: Andrea on January 28, 2014 at 11:32 am

      Great tips Catherene! We don’t have a discount bakery anymore near us and I do miss it! And I am a firm believer in quality over quantity, especially when it comes to my laundry products :)

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