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You Can Get Cheaper Options For These Supermarket Staples

A weekly visit to the grocery store is the norm for so many of us. After all, supermarkets allow us to get all the essentials in one place and offer various discounts too. That being said, grocery stores regularly mark up items that can easily be bought for a lesser price elsewhere. Since customers have the convenience of getting all their essentials in one place, they don’t usually bother considering the extra amount they end up paying for these products.
Many supermarket staples – from pre-cut fruits and vegetables to salad dressings, spices, and baking mixes – can be bought at much lower rates or prepared in your kitchen. So, if you're looking to cut back on your grocery store spending, cross these items off your shopping list.

1. Bottled Water

Unnecessary Supermarket Buys Bottled Water
Buying bottled water from the supermarket has become a trend in many countries, but it is problematic for many reasons. For starters, bottled water is about 3,000% more expensive per gallon than tap water. You’d be much better off investing in a water filtration system, as it will provide you with much cheaper and purer water. Also, plastic, as you might be well aware, contributes towards polluting the environment, and you don’t want to add to that mess, right? So unless you live in an area where tap water is undrinkable, getting bottled water is a waste of money and plastic. 

2. Baking Mixes

Unnecessary Supermarket Buys, Baking Mixes
Getting a pre-made cake is fine if you don’t enjoy baking, but buying baking mixes isn’t the best idea. Sure, they are convenient, but most of them are loaded with preservatives and additives. Many, in fact, have partially hydrogenated oils, which are high in trans fat. Moreover, they don’t even help get your job done completely - you still have to add more ingredients and complete several steps to get a finished cake. Not to forget that they are quite pricey too! 
With a little bit of effort, you can make your own at home. Here’s what you need to do:
1. Sift 6 cups of flour, 3 tablespoons of baking powder, ¼ cup white sugar, 1 cup nonfat dry milk powder, and a tablespoon of salt together in a bowl.
2. Whisk the ingredients thoroughly until they are properly combined.
3. Work in 3/4 cup of vegetable shortening.
4. Store in an air-tight container for up to 3 months. 

3. Pre-Cut Meats or Veggies

Unnecessary Supermarket Buys, Pre-Cut Meats or Veggies 
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is essential for all of us. That doesn’t mean, however, that you begin opting for pre-cut vegetables and sliced meat just because they make meal prep easy. That’s because they put a serious dent in your pocket. An analysis by Consumer Reports’ ShopSmart magazine found that many ready-to-cook products cost nearly 370% more than the normal versions. 
So, if you have the time, it’s best to chop the meat and vegetables yourself. It probably only takes 10 or 15 minutes and will help you save a lot of money.

4. Out-Of-Season Produce

Unnecessary Supermarket Buys, Out-Of-Season Produce
Eating seasonal foods isn’t just important if you’re concerned about the taste of your produce; this practice is also vital for your budget. Produce that's out of season is promoted regularly in supermarkets, but it's pretty costly too. Just because strawberries are available in December doesn’t mean you should pay extra for them. It’s much better to buy foods that are in season. You can also opt for the frozen version of out-of-season fruit or vegetables. They are usually flash-frozen at peak ripeness and are nominally priced. 

5. Pre-Portioned Snack-Sized Bags 

Unnecessary Supermarket Buys, Pre-Portioned Snack-Sized Bags 
Portioned snack-sized bags can be great, as the serving sizes are already pre-packed in them, and that helps keep our appetites in check. However, they aren't as great for your wallet, as they come at a premium price. These little bags are estimated to be marked up by around 50% at most grocery stores. The smarter idea would be to get your favorite snack items like almonds, raisins, nuts, dates, and pistachios in bulk, and then divide them into reusable snack bags or zipper bags. You can then package your own snacks for a much healthier body at a much better price.

6. Party Supplies

Unnecessary Supermarket Buys, Party Supplies
Grocery stores are known to keep dedicated sections for party supplies. It makes it easier for customers who are planning a little get-together to stock up on paper plates, disposable cups, napkins, and plastic cutlery while also grocery shopping. But supermarkets usually charge extra for such party supplies, and you can get a cheaper deal for the same stuff at a dollar store in your area. 

7. Spices

Unnecessary Supermarket Buys,  Spices
Spices are essential for many recipes but don’t run to your nearby supermarket to get them. They generally sell spices and herbs of popular brands in fancy-looking bottles that will charge you 90% more than local ethnic stores do for the same stuff. A local ethnic market or shop will sell spices at a much lesser cost. 

8. Pre-Made Salads

Unnecessary Supermarket Buys, Pre-Made Salads
Pre-made salads are highlighted prominently at grocery stores nowadays. Salads are healthy, of course, and getting a pre-made one is convenient, as you don’t have to waste time chopping up those veggies, right? But if you think about it, spending money on pre-made salads is just absurd. Vegetables usually aren't all that expensive, and you can easily get all the ingredients to make salads for a week for the same amount you would likely pay for a single pre-made one.

9. Microwave Popcorn

Unnecessary Supermarket Buys,  Microwave Popcorn
Microwave popcorn is one of the most popular buys at supermarkets all over the world, but it's also one of the most insanely marked-up items there. You can buy a bag of popcorn kernels at a much lesser price. A huge container of popcorn kernels that will last you for months usually costs about the same as you would be paying for about six servings of microwave popcorn. So which is the smarter choice? Additionally, you control the toppings while making your own popcorn, which makes it a healthier option as well. 

10. Salad Dressing

Unnecessary Supermarket Buys, Salad Dressing
Yes, a lot of salad dressings are pretty inexpensive, but they are also packed with plenty of preservatives and more than a dozen ingredients you should avoid having, as per the U.S. News & World Report. There’s an easier and much healthier solution – make your own dressing. It may appear intimidating at first, but when you use fresh ingredients like herbs, garlic, and vinegar, you will know exactly what’s going into your salad and can gorge on it with satisfaction. Read our articles on The Ultimate Guide to Creating the Tastiest Salad Dressing and 10 Healthy and Easy-to-Make Salad Dressings for more ideas.
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