15 Things Not to Buy in a Grocery Store

Grocery Store Produce Department

Bill Oxford/istockphoto

Cheapism is editorially independent. We may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site.
Grocery Store Produce Department
Bill Oxford/istockphoto

Walk On By

There is so much advice when it comes to saving money on the grocery bill, from cooking at home over ordering take-out to shopping the store brand over name brand. But where you buy your products can have an impact on your budget, too. Here is a list of what to stop buying at the grocery store. 

Related: What Not to Buy at the Dollar Store

Large Number of Packed Bottled Drinking Water with Blue Caps
Ake Dynamic/istockphoto
Organic Vegan Gummy vitamins
Variety of assortment of modern cosmetics store

Makeup Products

It can be easy to take a quick detour from the grocery side of the store to the makeup aisle for a one-stop shopping experience, but instead of buying makeup at a grocery store, consider Ulta. Not only does Ulta offer most of the brands grocery stores have to offer, but you can find much higher quality products, along with makeup experts to answer any questions you may have. On top of the quality and service, Ulta has a great rewards program as well.

Dog food
Rawpixel / istockphoto

Pet Food

It’s best to go to a store that employs subject matter experts when it comes to certain products. Petco, Petsmart, and Chewy are all established companies that know the ins and outs of pet food. On top of an ability to aid and advise you, Petco and Chewy offer automatic shipments, which save time and money.

Related: The Best Cheap Dog Food

Stacked diapers isolated on white background.


At some point in a parent’s life, there will be a diaper emergency and a pressing need to grab a pack from the grocery store. Luckily, there are several alternatives to the grocery store’s pricey product. A diaper delivery service is a great way to save time and money, and there are many diaper subscription services available. Another bonus: cloth diapers are better for the environment.



Magazines in the checkout section of a grocery store are a great way to pass the time until it’s your turn, but it’s so much cheaper to pay for a subscription to your favorite magazines by finding a subscription card inside a copy. You can get annual subscriptions for $9 and up, while grocery stores charge $3 or more for a single issue. You can even get Kindle versions of many magazines for free.

Selection of greetings cards on display in the store

Birthday Cards

Talk about a mark up — cards at the grocery store can cost up to $10. Your average grocery store card will run you between $2 and $4. Skip the grocery store and head to the Dollar Store, and you can find greeting cards as cheap as two for $1.

Birthday decorations

Party Supplies

Like birthday cards, party supplies like hats, table cloths, themed cups and plates, and streamers are usually thrown away right after the party and used for no more than a few hours. Skip the grocery store and go to the dollar store for all of your party supplies. 

Related: The Best Things to Buy at the Dollar Store

Energizer Brand Batteries


Batteries are not cheap, but they don’t have to break the bank. Instead of getting them from the grocery store, try getting them from a big box store like Costco or Sam’s Club, where they can be about half the cost. Another great alternative is using Amazon to have them delivered directly to your door. They also offer a discount on your first purchase when you choose a subscription, which you can cancel at anytime.

Hanging Pots and Pans
Bill Oxford/istockphoto

Kitchen Tools

Kitchen supplies at grocery stores are not cheap. Grabbing a mixing bowl or a spatula can be helpful in an emergency, but in general, it’s best to get your kitchen gear at TJ Maxx and Marshalls. TJ Maxx and Marshalls are known for their discounted pricing, especially when it comes to items for the home. Be on the lookout for deals on pots, pans, and knives.

Protein energy bar with wholegrain cereals and berry fruit
Stefan Tomic/istockphoto

Granola Bars

Granola bars are a healthy and easy snack choice, but grocery stores are not the best place for procuring granola bars. Why? It is much cheaper to make granola bars at home than it is to purchase them, and you can control the amount of sugar added when you make them yourself. When it comes to individual snacks in general, it’s almost always cheaper to buy a big version and make individual versions using Ziploc bags at home.

Grocery Store Produce Department
Bill Oxford/istockphoto

Off-Season Fruits

It’s great when the store has summer fruit available in the winter, but the markup isn’t worth it. It’s essential to focus on in-season fruits, as those usually come from local farms, which helps boost the local economy. If you’re really craving a fruit that’s out of season, check the frozen section, which contains fruits that were frozen at their ripest.

Related: New Fruits You're Suddenly Seeing at the Grocery Store

Fruit Container
Thomas Demarczyk/istockphoto

Pre-Cut Fruits and Veggies

Pre-cut fruits and veggies can save you time in prepping your meals but are ultimately a massive waste of money. These precut items can cost up to three times more than their uncut counterparts. On top of the cost, precut foods are often stored in plastics that are bad for the environment, and because the food has been sliced, it doesn’t tend to hold up the way whole pieces do.

Spice Set


Herbs and spices from a grocery store aren’t always fresh, cost more than they should, and may even be contaminated. Instead, head to your local ethnic grocery store or specialty spice shop, or shop online for spices of higher quality and in smaller amounts, so they’re always fresh. You can even opt for a spice grinder and buy your spices whole to grind and use or blend as needed.

to-go containers ready
Photography By Tonelson/istockphoto

Grab-n-Go Hot Food

The hot bar or grab-n-go section of a grocery store may seem convenient and reasonably priced, but it’s actually quite expensive. Because many grocery stores charge by item weight, folks often get stuck with large bills for choosing heavy lunch items. It takes a little bit more time, but a great alternative is buying the individual ingredients and meal prepping to save time and money.

Related: Freezer Meal Ideas to Prep Ahead for Easy Weeknight Dinners