10 Foods It's Okay to Skimp On


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Some foods and beverages do not have to cost a lot to be tasty or fulfill a recipe. Many times, store brands and bargain staples are just as good as you need them to be and offer all the flavor and quality at a lower price. These guidelines for saving on select grocery items will help manage costs so you have extra cash to spend on foods that are actually worth a splurge.

woman holding avocados in grocery store
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The Environmental Working Group's guide to pesticides in produce features a "Clean Fifteen" list that includes avocados, onions, papayas, and more. "You can save some money here by not buying organic," says health expert and trainer Joey Daoud of New Territory Fitness.
olive oil and olives
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Daoud recommends reserving pricey, high-quality olive oil for foods like salads and hummus and buying a cheap bottle for cooking. "You don't need to waste money cooking with expensive olive oil, since you'll never get the flavor you're paying extra money for," he says. As for olives, nutritionist and author Stephanie Pedersen tells her clients to go to a local Middle Eastern grocer and purchase them in jars or vacuum-sealed pouches to save money.

sardines in opened can
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Fish like sardines, mackerel, herring, anchovies, and smelt are rich in nutrients and come cheap in cans or jars. "These can be bought in a grocery store or an ethnic grocery store at a much lower cost per serving than fresh fish from your grocer's fish department," Pedersen says.
liver meat
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Buying less common and less expensive varieties of meat is another way to keep your budget lean. "Organ meats such as liver, tongue, heart, sweetbreads, tripe, and kidneys are a popular food in the keto and paleo diets," says Pederson, author of "Keto Lunches." "High-quality organ meats are protein-packed and much cheaper than higher-quality cuts of beef and chicken."
opened coconut
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Whether you want fresh coconut or unsweetened, shredded, dried coconut, get it inexpensively at a market that sells Caribbean or Southeast Asian foods, Pederson says. When it comes to coconut oil, "no need to spend extra on organic," she says. "Few coconut trees are sprayed."
hands with packages of white eggs in store
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For everyday meals and baked goods where the flavor of an egg is not perceptible, it's not worth shelling out for pricey eggs. "I love the idea of free-range, organic eggs, but I know they can be expensive," Pederson says. "I suggest that my clients buy the not-so-popular medium-size eggs. They are often much cheaper than large and extra-large eggs."
container of flour
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Expensive dry baking supplies are not required to make a really tasty treat. Premium flour, sugar, baking soda, and baking powder can easily be swapped for store brands and other bargains. For big savings, load up on inexpensive bulk ingredients.
assorted beans and lentils
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Store-brand dried beans and lentils sold in bags are a huge bargain, providing a protein-rich foundation for a meal. Not only do they cost less than canned, they don't go bad and aren't loaded with sodium. Rinse them and prepare according to the instructions. It takes longer, but the result is worth it.

woman with bottles of rose and white wine in store
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Love treating yourself to a mimosa or French 75? No need to pay real Champagne prices for the requisite sparkling wine, only to dilute the flavor with juice or gin. Reach for the best sparkling wine under $10 — or an honest-to-goodness French champagne from Costco for around $20 — and live well for less.

rolled oats in a bowl
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Tins of specialty steel-cut oatmeal can cost a lot, but store brand or bulk oatmeal serves just as well. Dress up this healthy alternative to refined cereal with nuts or fruit to lower your daily sugar intake. You can also blend or process the oatmeal to create oat flour for baking.

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