Groceries can cost a lot, but you still need to buy food. Knowing what not to buy at the grocery store can save you money.
Grocery stores — whether your local store or a big-box chain — have tons of items in stock and many for a fair, reasonable price. But that doesn't mean it should be your one-stop shop for anything you need to buy.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average American spends more than $4,000 a year on food for the home. That's in addition to the over $3,000 spent per person on food outside the home. Meals rack up big costs.
Still, it can seem difficult to save money when grocery shopping. One way to trim expenses is to make a list and stick to it — but that's not the only saving strategy that works.
Shopping online, using price matches, waiting for products to go on sale, and meal planning are other ways to save money on groceries. You can also figure out which stores have the best prices on different products. It may seem like a hassle to shop in multiple locations, but the savings can be worth the sacrifice.
Throwing away food that was never used is another problem worth solving. The American Chemistry Council found that the average household wastes $640 in groceries per year — over $50 a month.
In addition to these steps, there are certain groceries you should think twice before buying. The 16 products below could be the cause of sky high grocery bills — and skipping them can help you save money on your next trip to the grocery store.
Not only will buying corn in the winter be more expensive than in the summer, as Erin Brodwin of Business Insider reported, but off-season produce travels from further away and will perish sooner.
Those candy bars and gossip magazines are put there for a reason. As Business Insider's Kate Taylor reported, stores try to capitalize on customers willingness to spend a few extra bucks on impulse purchases found at the checkout line.
Unless, of course, you have celiac disease and need to keep a diet without gluten. Gluten-free products have been found to be on average of 242% more expensive than their gluten counterparts by The National Center for Biotechnology Information — and some foods can be as much as five times more expensive, as Reuters found.
As Business Insider previously reported, generic drugs are required by law to be as effective as the brand name product and are often a small fraction of the price. Go for the generic.
It is usually cheaper — and probably tastes better — to make your own tomato sauce from canned or fresh tomatoes than buying a jar of premade red marinara, as registered dietitian Owennie Lee recommends.
It is often cheaper to buy items — such as paper towels or pet food — in bulk, says One Good Thing. The lower cost per unit will help savings even if the one time cost is higher.
However, you can go too far in the other direction. If you buy products in bulk that eventually expire unused, it might be better to get a smaller size next time. One Good Thing says that produce should definitely not be bought by the bag.
Sugar doesn't fill you up, according to Scientific America; it only makes you hungrier. Sugary snacks also don't help your waistline and can disrupt your meal schedule.
Americans are ditching soda as the health consequences become more obvious. Soft drinks — as the Daily News found out — dehydrate, creating more thirst and desire to drink more soda, and many cities have created a soda tax, making these beverages costly.
Juices are promoted as a healthy alternative to fruit, but the sugary drinks are often bereft of the implied benefits, Business Insider's Erin Brodwin found. Instead of a glass of OJ, save your wallet and waist by just sticking to eating an actual orange.
Between Monster and 5 Hour Energy, energy drinks have scary side effects as Business Insider has reported. Nutritionist Andy Bellatti told Business Insider of cheaper groceries to buy — such as oatmeal or black beans — if you need to keep up your energy levels throughout the day.
Water is everywhere, so you don't need to purchase it by the bottle. Americans now drink more bottled water than soda, Kate Taylor reported, even though Business Insider discovered that it costs $1.22 per gallon for a commodity that can be accessed for next to nothing.
Buying the ingredients separately and combining them yourself will usually cost less than buying pre-made trail. You can even customize the snack by adding or subtracting mix-ins, or changing the ratio, to what you prefer.
Using ground beef to form homemade meatballs or burgers is incredibly simple. Cut out the convenience cost and create your very own meat creations that don't come from a frozen bag.
Instead of an all-purpose grocery store, you'll find lower prices buying notebooks and printer ink from a specialty store like Staples or Office Depot.
That advice doesn't just go for office supplies. Not surprisingly, hardware stores are better for getting hardware than grocery stores are. There will be a better selection, better prices, and more knowledgeable staff.