Walking into a grocery store can be an overwhelming experience. The shelves are stocked with items that seem like things you need to buy but in reality, a lot of these items are either unhealthy or overpriced. Too many Americans opt to buy “junk food” instead of healthy, whole foods like fruits and vegetables and minimally processed proteins.
Keep reading to learn all about what you shouldn’t buy at the grocery store. We can all shop a little smarter.
Noodle Soup Kits Are Full Of Sodium
Remember those college ramen days? Noodle soup kits that you could just add hot water to were our go-to dinners back when we were pulling all-nighters and cramming hard for algebra tests. Now that we’re adults, we really should know better.
Many instant noodle soup brands contain harmful chemicals and preservatives. One such preservative is called tertiary-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ), which is a byproduct of the petroleum industry. Also, these noodle cups are chock-full of unhealthy amounts of sodium.
Don’t Eat White Bread
White bread isn’t the healthiest grocery store item in the world. First of all, it’s full of unhealthy carbohydrates. All of those carbs basically tur into sugar in your body. If you must have bread, you’re better off going with a whole grain option that has some fiber in it.
You could also make bread yourself at home. Then you know you’re not eating anything that’s full of chemicals and refined sugars. If you’ve never tried Ezekiel bread, that could be a good alternative to explore too.
Beware Of Blueberry Imposters
The grocery store aisles are usually stocked with numerous items that are said to be “blueberry flavored,” but a large amount of those items don’t contain any blueberries at all. Products such as breakfast cereals, muffins, granola bars, and sauces may claim to be flavored with blueberries, but it’s actually an artificial flavoring.
A healthier alternative to satisfy your blueberry craving is to purchase whole blueberries and incorporate them into the food of your choosing. Blueberries are filled with antioxidants and many essential vitamins that make them part of a balanced diet.
Don’t Fall For “Gluten-Free” Labels
Just because something is labeled as “gluten-free,” that doesn’t mean that it’s healthy. The only people who really need to pay attention to those labels are people who suffer from a gluten intolerance. Unless you have celiac disease, gluten-free doesn’t mean much. many of the foods advertised as gluten-free never had gluten in them in the first place.
Also, gluten-free snack foods such as chips, cookies, and candy are often loaded with massive amounts of sugar, salt, refined grains, and saturated fat to give the food flavor.
Stay Away From Boxed Mac And Cheese
Mac and cheese is usually considered to be a top meal choice for kids, but a wide variety of boxed versions are significantly unhealthy. Nutritionist Janine Whiteson, RD found that one serving of the most popular boxed brands of mac and cheese has two days’ servings of trans fats and over a day’s worth of sodium.
Boxed mac and cheese also lacks many nutritional elements that make up a balanced diet. There is virtually no fiber and many contain numerous additives and chemicals that have been banned in other countries around the world.
No More Toaster Pastries
Toaster pastries might sound like a delicious breakfast option, but they actually have very little nutritional value. Eating a toaster pastry is basically like eating a pocket of sugar. It’s definitely not a fitting food item for the most important meal of the day.
Many toaster snacks are fruit-flavored but don’t contain actual fruit. You don’t need all of those added sugars. You’re better off having some real fruit for breakfast. Pair it with some plain yogurt and you’re good to go.
White Rice Is Not The Best Choice
You really shouldn’t be filling up on carbs at mealtimes and white rice is basically all carbs. It doesn’t offer your body very much nutritionally and it will make you too full to eat the protein and vegetables on your plate. If you really want to indulge in some rice every now and again, choose a whole grain brown rice instead. Brown rice contains a lot more fiber than white rice.
Eating white rice regularly can also increase blood pressure, cause cholesterol levels to spike, and increase the risk of heart disease.
Don’t Buy Bottled Water
There are so many reasons not to buy bottled water. First of all, bottled water is expensive. Also, all of those bottles create so much plastic waste in our environment. If you absolutely don’t want to drink plain old tap water, there are some other options.
You can get a water filter and leave that in your fridge. If you don’t mind drinking straight tap water, investing in a reusable water bottle is the way to go.
No More Grocery Store Kitchenware
If you wander the aisles of a big-box grocery store, you’re likely to come across some kitchenware conveniently placed next to the cleaning supplies and tin foil. We’re here to tell you that the grocery store is not the best place to buy spatulas or tongs or any other kitchen utensil.
Finance experts say that buying kitchenware at the grocery store means overpaying by about 30 percent. They recommend either borrowing the items from friends or neighbors or finding a sale at a retail store such as Macy’s or Home Goods.
Don’t Buy Snack-Size Bags
Snack-size bags might seem like a good option especially if you have lunches to pack and kids to feed, but if you fall for this marketing trick, you really aren’t’ getting the best bang for your buck. Companies know that they can charge more for snack-size options.
Also, you’re purchasing a lot more plastic which harms our environment. It’s better to buy in bulk and then separate snacks into smaller portions yourself using reusable containers.
Skip The Exotic Fruit
After you’ve sifted through the apples and the oranges and the bananas, most grocery stores have a section of more exotic fruits such as kumquats, horned melons, starfruit, and winter berries. These fruits aren’t purchased as frequently as “common” fruits, which means that they’ve been sitting on those grocery store shelves for a longer period of time.
If you want exotic fruits, you’re better off getting them from a specialized seller. Check out market fruit stands or specialty supermarkets.
Grocery Store Diapers Are A Scam
Grocery stores know that parents are exhausted and that they’ll pick up a pack of diapers while they’re shopping for dinner out of sheer convenience. That’s why they hike up the price of these essential items. This markup is at least 50 percent more than other retail options.
If you want to save money on diapers, buy them in bulk from places like Amazon or Costco. Also, if you buy diapers in bulk, you won’t find yourself in desperate need of them while you’re wandering through the grocery store.
The Problem With Juice
Juice may seem healthy because most flavors are said to have rich amounts of fruits and vegetables. Some juices contain antioxidants and vitamin C, but the vast majority are full of liquid sugar. A peer-reviewed journal called The Lancet found that fruit juice usually contains as much sugar as sodas such as Coca-Cola or Pepsi.
Some healthier alternatives are juices made purely of low-sugar fruits including blueberry and pomegranate. An even healthier alternative is to make your own juice using natural ingredients, avoiding the added preservatives and sugar.
Energy Bars Are Full Of Calories
A top reason for buying protein or energy bars at the grocery store is that they are widely considered to be a convenient nutritional snack and a healthier alternative to candy bars. While there are nutritious energy bar options available, this isn’t the case for all of them.
Many energy bars contain high amounts of fat and sugar that have just as many calories as a regular candy bar. Instead, grab a piece of fruit with lots of vitamins, a probiotic yogurt, or a small handful of nuts to satisfy your snack time hunger.
The Problem With Frozen Pizza
In order to keep frozen meals such as pizzas fresh for a long time, they are made with large amounts of chemicals and preservatives. Specifically, frozen pizzas are chalked full of calories, fat, sodium, carbohydrates, and sugar. These frozen pizzas are mass-produced in factories and aren’t always made with the healthiest ingredients.
If you insist on buying a frozen pizza there are healthier options available, including cauliflower and keto crusts. Making dough at home is relatively simple, which can be topped with fresh vegetables and other low-calorie, high-fiber alternatives.
Don’t Eat French Fries And Potato Chips
Healthline found that whole, white potatoes are actually very healthy, but the majority of the potato byproducts lack many nutrients. Products such as french fries and potato chips are extremely high in calories, salt, and fat and contain carcinogenic substances. PubMed Central completed several studies concluding that the byproducts directly contribute to weight gain.
The best way to eat white potatoes is to boil them in water, not fried in oil. When potatoes are fried, baked, or roasted it releases harmful chemicals that can cause cancer. Some snacks that can relieve the crunch cravings are baby carrots, nuts, or jícama.
Use Salad Dressing Sparingly
Consuming salads is a great way to maintain a balanced diet, but the tricky part comes down to the salad dressing. Bottled salad dressing can have a lot of sodium, sugar, and saturated fat. They also don’t stay true to serving size, causing people to consume at least a tablespoon more than recommended.
While limiting your intake of salad dressing can be difficult, nutrition experts say to try and skip it altogether. They suggest topping a salad with some avocado, poached eggs, or marinated vegetables to give it extra flavor.
Sweetened Cereals Aren’t Ideal Breakfast Foods
Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day, but for many people, it isn’t full of nutritious ingredients. There are some cereal options that make for a healthy breakfast choice, containing natural ingredients and low sugar. However, that’s not the case for most cereal brands.
The majority of breakfast cereals are unhealthy because they have alarming amounts of added sugar, preservatives, additives, and more. Cereals such as Reese’s Puffs, Cocoa Pebbles, and Golden Grahams are prevalent on the cereal aisle but are filled with tons of calories, sodium, and artificial colors that can spike blood sugar and possibly lead to serious illnesses.
Choose Your Ice Cream Wisely
Ice cream can be a nice treat on a hot day, but a lot of varieties and brands lack nutritional ingredients. Ice cream usually has a ton of sugar and since it’s a dairy product, it’s also high in calories. Even vegan ice cream made with coconut milk can be higher in saturated fat and sugar than dairy ice cream.
Those who want to avoid dairy can choose soy, almond, coconut, or cashew milk ice cream, but dairy ice cream is actually a bit healthier than non-dairy.
Packaged Meat Can Make You Sick
There are severely high amounts of sodium packed into processed meats. These can include bologna, ham, sausage, turkey, hot dogs, bratwurst, roast beef, bacon, pepperoni, Spam, and more. PubMed Central found that people who regularly consume packaged meats are at a higher risk for serious ailments such as colon cancer, type 2 diabetes, kidney failure, and heart disease.
This doesn’t mean that you have to give up meat entirely. The deli counter and local butchers have fresh meat choices that don’t contain the unhealthy preservatives and saturated fat that pre-packaged meat does.
Get Rid Of This Ingredient In Your Canned Fruit
Sometimes buying pre-packaged fruit can be a time-saving tactic, but there are certain varieties to avoid. Any canned or packaged fruit that comes with liquid syrup should not be consumed. These heavy syrups are loaded with unnecessary sugars and artificial sweeteners, which can be harmful to the gastrointestinal system.
Instead, try purchasing fresh or frozen fruit. If you need to get canned fruit, make sure to only buy the ones that say they’re packed in “100 percent juice.”
Read The Ingredients In Popcorn
Popcorn may be high in fiber, but several versions completely slather on unhealthy ingredients. Some varieties contain palm oil, which is a major cause of inflammation. Others put on a heavy candy glaze that is doused with added sugars. Even some popcorn brands that claim to have fewer calories fill their product with heavy fat, oils, cheese, buttermilk, and more.
The best thing to do is avoid any brand that is popped using palm oil and find ones that use either coconut oil or olive oil. Buying kernels and popping them at home either on the stove or in a popcorn popper can be a healthier alternative.
Stay Away From Fruit Snacks
Most varieties of fruit snacks will say that they are fat-free, but there are several bad ingredients that some shoppers might miss on the labels. Most gummies have a lot of added sugar and tons of food coloring. Nutritionist Danielle Hamo states that eating fruit snacks “will probably lead to increased hunger.”
She goes on to say that they “have no fiber to prevent your blood sugar from spiking and crashing.” Similar products such as fruit roll-ups contain high amounts of corn syrup, sugar, palm oil, and a wide variety of artificial colors.
Tomato Sauce Isn’t Always Healthy
It can be convenient to buy a jar of tomato sauce, instead of making the sauce at home. However, making tomato sauce at home is a far healthier option. The Healthy found that popular brands of store-bought tomato sauce have around 12 grams of sugar and 20 percent of the day’s recommended sodium intake in just one serving.
Before buying jarred tomato sauce make sure you recognize the ingredients listed because that’s where a lot of the hidden sugars and sodium are found.
Don’t Overeat A Frozen Pot Pie
Frozen pot pie may seem like a healthy meal because it contains mostly vegetables and meat, but it’s actually one of the most unhealthy grocery store purchases. One frozen pot pie usually has around two servings, yet the majority of consumers eat one pot pie per person.
These are usually loaded with saturated fat and sodium and contain far more calories than someone should consume in one meal. The outer pastry and gravy inside the pot pie are what makes it unhealthy, so an alternative can be to cook up just white meat chicken and steamed vegetables.
We’re Spilling the Beans on This Canned Beans Secret
There are parts of the world where a majority of the population takes convenience into consideration when making purchasing decisions and America is probably toward the top of that list. One product that American shoppers are wasting money on is canned beans and legumes.
On average one can costs around a buck for every 14 ounces, as opposed to a two pound bag of dry beans that averages around $1.59. The only difference is that the beans haven’t been soaked in liquid, which can easily be done at home.
Make Your Own Pancakes
Almost any food can be packaged as a frozen product. This is especially true for breakfast food. There are frozen pancakes, waffles, french toast, and more. Those who prefer to purchase the frozen options may not realize that they are not budgeting correctly.
Making pancakes at home is simple because you only need a few simple ingredients that can be whipped up in no time. Also, you can usually make a lot more at once that can be frozen for the rest of the week.
Find The Best Deal on Batteries
It’s difficult to live a normal life without having some batteries. They have the ability to power so many miscellaneous items and people depend on them daily. Since grocery stores have almost anything, people can pick up a small pack of them, but it may not be the smartest option.
A pack of three or four batteries at the grocery store is about the equivalent to buying them in a bulk pack of 20 or 30 at a warehouse store. If you’re not a member of one of those places, Amazon also includes many of the warehouse deals as well.
Unwrapped Items Can Be Dangerous
While shopping customers may notice that not everything comes wrapped in a protective covering. This is especially true for produce products. When those are placed in shopping carts they are then exposed to a huge amount of hidden germs and bacteria.
A study by the University of Arizona found that nearly three-quarters of shopping cart handles were contaminated with E. coli. The best thing to do is bring a reusable bag or at least use the plastic bags that are provided for free in the produce section. Also, make sure to wash the reusable bags because the bacteria from the cart get on that too.
Flip Through the Magazines Elsewhere
Another culprit of being overpriced at the grocery store are magazines. They usually have a large selection with topics ranging from fitness, entertainment, cooking, and more. Magazines rely on places like grocery stores because customers may get drawn in by the vibrant covers and choose to put it in their cart.
Buying one there usually will cost around three or four bucks, but there are a lot of publications where people can make yearly subscriptions for around $20. Also, libraries tend to have a great number of magazines that people can read for free.
The Trick for Owning Amazing Cleaning Products
Cleaning products are some of the most essential items to own, but the grocery store is not the place to buy them. There are plenty of other ways to get cleaning products into your home. First, look for deals at big box stores such as Costco or Sam’s Club.
Dollar stores also sell some, but they may turn out to be a little more diluted. For those set getting something at the grocery store just pick up some vinegar, baking soda, salt, and lemon and make it yourself.
Stay Away From The Salad Bar
When buying food at the salad bar of a supermarket, consumers are purchasing more than just the salad. They are also paying for the time and preparation it took for the employees to wash, cut, and organize everything. While salad is a healthy choice there are other ways to get the same nutrients for a cheaper price.
Instead, go to the produce aisle and pick up the ingredients found in the salad bar. It doesn’t take too much time to do the prep work at home. Also, many salad bars contain a lot of bacteria because people use the tongs (or their fingers).
Where to Look for Light Bulbs
Grocery stores don’t only have food to pack your pantry, but they also have a lot of common household items. One object that many sell are light bulbs. It may seem convenient to pick up a few of them while out at the supermarket, but it’s advised that customers head somewhere else.
People will get the best value for their money at warehouse stores such as Costco, Sam’s Club, or BJ’s, but there’s also another option. Finance experts searched all over for the smartest deal and they found that Amazon had the cheapest prices hands down.
What to Look for in Pre-Arranged Flowers
It’s difficult to ignore the vibrant and colorful flowers that are usually out in front of grocery stores. They can be a good gift or congratulatory gesture, but there are also some cons to buying the pre-arranged bouquets at the supermarket.
Grocery store flowers tend to be less fresh than those at a florist, so they will usually wilt faster. They also may have a lot of unnecessary greenery or weeds around them that take up a lot of room. If someone needs to buy them at grocery stores it’s best to get single varieties with buds that aren’t fully opened.
What’s Lurking in Shredded Cheese
There’s no denying that cheese is one of the most popular products bought at grocery stores, but there are certain types that consumers should avoid. Pre-shredded or grated cheese may be easy and convenient, but they have some abnormal things hidden inside.
The companies that make the pre-made cheese tend to add non-cheese fillers, including wood pulp, that can take up 50 percent of the bag. It’s smarter to buy a block of cheese and grate it yourself.
Pass On The Beer
Not every grocery store in the US sells beer, wine, and liquor. Some only sell beer and wine, while others sell no alcohol at all. For this reason, grocery stores usually rack up the price when it comes to alcohol. Since they can’t sell it elsewhere, they need to make money off of it where they can.
You’re better off visiting a warehouse club for your booze. Liquor stores tend to have a wider selection, lower prices, and better options. The only perk to grocery store alcohol is convenience.
These Toothbrushes Aren’t Great
If you visit the dentist regularly, then there’s no need to buy a toothbrush at the grocery store. Dentists recommend visiting twice a year to keep your teeth clean and healthy. Every time you visit, they’ll give you a new toothbrush. Hence, you don’t have to buy yours at all.
If you do need to get a new toothbrush, visit a drugstore instead. CVS and Walgreens are constantly putting toothbrushes on sale and often sell them in packs, which saves you money in the future.
Cakes For Parties And Special Occasions
Grabbing a birthday cake at a grocery store sure is convenient, but they aren’t cheap. A full-sized cake from a bakery or warehouse costs the same as a small cake from a regular grocery store. In addition, most of these cakes are packed with preservatives. Cakes from independent bakeries are guaranteed to be fresh.
Bakery cakes also include more options and prettier designs. Even if these bakeries charge more than grocery stores, they guarantee better quality cakes. Don’t you want the best dessert for your celebration?
Ignore All Baking Mixes
Baking mixes like Bisquick sell for their convenience. You don’t have to mix together baking soda, flour, or salt. The trick is that most people already have these items in their home, so they’re spending money on something that they could make for free.
For example, to make a Duncan cake mix, you need sugar, flour, salt, and baking soda. Any regular baker has these items in their home already; they last a long time and can be used for multiple baking sessions. Even though you have to mix more, you’ll save time and money by making a homemade cake or pastry.