Grocery stores offer plenty of conveniences to make food-buying as simple as possible. Most of us head to the grocery store to pick up fresh produce, meats, cheeses, snacks, and other convenience foods, and you can pick from dozens of brands and generic items that fit your budget. Still, there are a few things you don’t want to pick up at your local supermarket. Certain types of produce are full of pesticides and you’ll be better off heading to the local farmers market or buying organic. Buying non-grocery items at the supermarket usually means you'll spend much more than the average price in your area.
Here are nine items you shouldn’t pick up from the grocery store:
1. Cosmetics and skin care items. 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 your nearest chain drugstore, Wal-Mart, or Super Target if you want to stock up on or sample makeup, moisturizer, cleansers, and scrubs.
2. Pre-ground coffee. Some grocery stores offer great prices on coffee beans that you can grind right in the store, but buying pre-ground coffee could put a dent in your grocery budget. The mark-up on pre-ground coffee is relatively high and you could get a much better deal on large coffee cans at your neighborhood big-box store. Remember you can also track down coupons and vouchers for certain brands.
3. Party supplies. As convenient as it is to pick up candles, balloons, and other party supplies for that last-minute get together, you’ll end up paying a high price solely out of convenience. Plan to make a pit stop at the local dollar store or party supply store to take advantage of lower prices.
4. Kitchen appliances. Whether you’re in the market for a new toaster, blender, or food processor, do your homework and track down a great price on kitchen appliances online. Grocery stores typically carry a very small stock of these items and you probably won’t even find a quality brand. Stick with big-box stores and online merchants for your kitchen appliances and other small electronics.
5. Hardware. Light bulbs, extension cords, nails, and small tools don’t come cheap at the grocery store. Again, these are considered to be specialty goods at a grocery store and most will only have a very small inventory of hardware items. Stick with big-box retailers, the dollar store, or even your local hardware store when you need to stock up.
6. Cookware and bakeware. If you’re suddenly inspired to cook a banquet-style meal when shopping at the grocery store, make sure you pick up your basic supplies elsewhere. Cookware and bakeware items are usually heavily marked up at the grocery store and you could end up paying almost double the price for your items. Make a list of what you need then head out to a store that has a larger inventory of these specialty items.
7. Some fruits and veggies. PBS put together two lists of fruits and vegetables that are worth buying–and not buying–at the grocery store, based on the level of pesticides and chemicals present in each items. The recommendation is to stick with organic varieties of apples, bell peppers, peaches, strawberries and potatoes. Grocery stores are your best bet for fruits and vegetables like asparagus, sweet peas, eggplant, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, and onions.
8. Gourmet cheese. The deli section of most grocery stores is stocked with pricey items that also have a very short shelf life. If you’re looking for cheese, head to the dairy section where you’ll find processed varieties for a fraction of the price of the fresh, gourmet options. If it’s gourmet cheese you’re after, keep an eye out for deals on offerings from daily deal sites at local wine and cheese stores in your area. You can also get better pricing on cheese at your local warehouse club.
9. Name-brand spices. Fresh spices are another gourmet food item that you’re probably paying a premium for at the grocery store. Your best bet? The ethnic food markets and local ethnic food stores. Some big-box stores also tend to stock a large spice inventory and will price these at lower price points than your neighborhood grocery store. Consider buying in bulk from the ethnic market to save even more.