18 Foods That Are Breaking Your Grocery Budget (But Don’t Need To Be)

Fresh, organic produce from the trendy grocery store down the street might look and taste slightly better than the alternative, but it will cost you a pretty penny.

Luckily, there are stores that provide fresh produce at a lower cost, like Trader Joe’s, Food Lion, Pathmark, or Publix.

Regardless, here’s a list of those 18 supermarket items that you should find an alternative to buying or dig out the coupons and pretend you’re on an episode of Extreme Couponing:

1. Spices

No, expensive grocery store, I do not want to pay $9.99 for rosemary!

According to Lauren Greutman at I Am That Lady, buying spices in bulk is the easiest way to save. She suggests Frontier Co-op, which is a website that helps you locate a store close to you that will have a bulk spice selection.

If you only want a small amount of a specific spice, then she suggests going to Big Lots or Aldi, which will often sell small amounts of spices at $1 each.

Strangely enough, she also said that the spice section of any grocery store is where spices will be more expensive. If you find spices in a different area, they may be a little cheaper.

Flickr | cookbookman17

2. Pre-Cut Foods

Greutman found that pre-cut foods are usually double the price of the uncut version. So, maybe you’re paying for the convenience, but just keep in mind that price difference.

Flickr | SouthernFoodwaysAlliance

3. Eggs

We’re in the middle of the worst outbreak of bird flu in decades, which is seriously jacking up egg prices. Egg prices went up another 3.3 percent in August after an giant 18.3 percent spike in June, according to CNBC.

To save yourself on eggs, try buying from a friend who has hens, if you have such a cool friend. Or try visiting your local food co-op or buy directly from a small farm.

Flickr | Janine

4. Organic Clean 15 Foods

Foods on the Clean 15 list are foods that you don’t have to buy organic, according to Dr. Andrew Weil.

These fruits and veggies are usually chemical and pesticide free regardless of whether they’re being sold as organic.

The Clean 15 include: avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwis, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower, and sweet potatoes.

Flickr | Sonny Abesamis

5. Bottled Water

Bottled water is super convenient sometimes, but just buy yourself a reusable bottle and you could save a few hundred dollars (or more than $1,000, depending on how much you buy bottled water) a year.

And we all know that using all that plastic just isn’t great for the environment, even if you recycled it.

Flickr | frankieleon

6. Pre-Made Salad Kits Or Pre-Made Deli Sandwiches

Again, you’re paying extra for convenience here. Buy yourself a head of romaine lettuce or a container of spinach leaves, grab some cherry tomatoes and nuts, and you’ve got the makings of the same salad — you don’t even have to cut anything up.

The same goes for deli sandwiches, except deli sandwiches are even more expensive given the amount of resources that they use. Set aside time to make yourself a sandwich and you could save yourself a lot of money over time.

Flickr | Lehigh Valley, PA

7. Individual, Serving-Sized Products

Greutman did an experiment and found that you can save $150 per year by never buying the individual serving-sized potato chips. Most of the time, packs of individually-sized Pringles can cost 50 percent more than a full-sized bag of Pringles.

Flickr | Mike Mozart

8. Jarred Spaghetti Sauce

Spaghetti Sauce is extremely cheap and easy to make, especially in bulk. When you buy jarred spaghetti sauce, you’re often paying for the convenience and the glass jar.

Greutman found that spaghetti sauce is only worth the money if you can get it for $1 or less with a coupon.

Otherwise, you could save yourself a lot of money by making your own sauce in bulk and then freezing it to use throughout the next few months. Here’s an easy homemade spaghetti sauce recipe from Greutman’s Sicilian grandmother, and here’s another extremely simple one.

Photo by theimpulsivebuy
Photo by theimpulsivebuy
Photo by theimpulsivebuy

9. Pre-Packaged Baking Mixes

When comparing boxed baking mixes and homemade baking mixes, Greutman found that you’re often paying 40 percent more for the convenience of boxed mixes.

If you want to save that extra money, then try making your own super simple mix with flour and baking powder (try this recipe here).

Then stick a label on the container that says something like, “Mix 1 and one-half cups of this mix with 1 and one-quarter cup milk and one egg,” so that you have that same convenience at a lower cost.

pancake mix photo
Photo by JeepersMedia

10. Frozen French Fries

This is a hard one to give up, I know. But if you buy your own white potatoes and try making your own fries, it’s about 80 percent cheaper than buying them.

Here’s a super simple recipe from Food Network to try to sway your decision.

Flickr | Christian Schnettelker

11. Canned Beans

Canned beans are apparently really expensive, which was something even I didn’t know.

You can get a 96-ounce bag of dried black beans at Aldi for around $1.59, according to Greutman.

Alternately, you often pay between 50 cents and $1 per 14-ounce can beans. When you do the math, you end up paying almost three times the amount per ounce for canned beans.

Flickr |cookbookman17

12. K-Cups

We all love our Keurigs, but you can pay 50 cents or more per cup of coffee when you buy K-Cups.

Greutman found that even if you buy the really expensive, organic coffee and brew it yourself, you will pay — at most — 17 cents per cup of coffee.

If you really need to save, this is a good tip to keep in mind.

Photo by colmmcsky
Photo by colmmcsky
Photo by colmmcsky

13. Baby Food

Buying your own baby food is usually double the price of making your own.

Thankfully, there’s a great two-minute recipe that can save you at least 50 cents on every jar of baby food you need.

Flickr | jencu

14. Salad Dressing

Yes, we are all about convenience in the U.S. But making your own salad dressing is literally as easy as riding a bike, minus all the scrapes and bruises from your first fall.

If you are looking for an amazing homemade salad dressing recipe, look no further this this delicious AND easy vinaigrette.

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 2.38.10 PM

15. Instant Rice

Instant rice is 60 percent more expensive than buying rice in bulk and cooking it in a rice cooker (one of the greatest inventions known to man).

Seriously, invest in a rice cooker, because it does all the work for you, and you will never go back to that high-sodium instant rice.

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 2.39.13 PM

16. Canned Broth

According to Greutman, canned and boxed broths are mostly water.

You can get more flavor and save money by purchasing Bullion cubes, which cost around $4 for a jar of 24 cubes.

Or you can make your own chicken stock, which you can make in bulk for no more than the cost of a chicken and some veggies.

Flickr | Wild Tofu

17. Boxed Popcorn

There is nothing better than making your own popcorn, and it’s also insanely cheap.

pop secret photo
Photo by JeepersMedia

18. Juice Boxes

Juice boxes cost about 49 cents per box, and if you have four kids, who each take one juice box to school each day, that adds up to $13.90 per week just spent on sugary juice boxes.

Buying them a water bottle that hooks to their backpack is cheaper and healthier.

juice boxes photo
Photo by stevendepolo

19. Soda

Soda is unhealthy and expensive—the two marks of something you should probably avoid.

If you just really love soda, try buying a Sodastream, which can make delicious flavored soda water for only the price of the machine and then the flavors.

Flickr | Allen