Parts Of The Grocery Store To Avoid
Grocery stores are designed to make you feel like you need to follow a certain path through them. Some pretty impressive master planning goes into those fluorescently lit markets you pop into one to several times a week. Haven’t you noticed that you go in there with a plan to only stay for 20 to 30 minutes and a list of items to buy that only spans one post-it note, and you come out an hour later, with five bags full of items? How did this happen? When you went in there, you felt pretty certain that you knew what you needed—and what you didn’t—for your kitchen. Yet, somehow, once you stepped inside that store, you were convinced otherwise. Don’t let the layout disorient you and cause you to over-spend and buy things you don’t want. Here are parts of the grocery store you should just avoid.
The clearance section
You didn’t go into the store thinking that you needed hard cider, condensed milk, Danish pastries, or boxed mac and cheese and yet…you now have those things. Why? Because you found them in the clearance section and thought, “I’ll save money if I buy these!” But any amount of money—small as it may be—spent on things you don’t need is money wasted.
That’s where you’ll find your prepared potato salads, macaroni salads, beet and goat cheese salads, and chicken salads. They seem so convenient—why not just grab a few tubs for quick and simple lunches? Well, because the cost per pound of that stuff at the deli is at least five times what it would cost you to make it yourself. Come on: potato salad is just potatoes, mayonnaise, mustard, chives, and seasoning.
The frozen meals
They seem so affordable—just $7 for vegan enchiladas with beans and rice or just $5 for tortellini—but at the end of the day, they lack the nutrition that the fresh stuff would. And, you never get enough food in one of those tiny frozen trays. You end up needing two, so actually, your enchilada dinner cost you $14. That’s a restaurant price.
The prepared salads
Those lovely bags with the precut and washed kale, dried cranberries, spinach, croutons, and butternut squash squares sure do look tempting. But they’ll run you between $4 and $6 for just one salad. If you buy the ingredients whole, you can easily make 20 of those salads for much less money per-serving.
The pre-cut vegetables/fruit
Yes, some items are a pain to cut up, like watermelon, acorn squash, and bell peppers. But the upcharge in the pre-cut varieties is crazy. A box of pre-cut watermelon might cost you $5, and it doesn’t even contain the fruit of a full watermelon—probably only a quarter of one. Meanwhile, you can buy a whole watermelon for a few dollars.
The hot foods counter
Ah yes. The tubs of fresh, daily made soup like chili and corn chowder. The half rotisserie chickens. The French fries. The macaroni and cheese. It smells so good. It’s so shiny. Everything is so cheesy and delectable. Get out of there. There is rarely anything that is low in fat, sugar, or calories over there.
The salad bar
Again, is the convenience really worth the upcharge? Maybe on rare occasions when you’re truly in a rush. But you have to understand that the salad bar contains things you can buy for much cheaper, whole, in the exact same store.
That special cheese counter
You know what cheeses you actually use on a daily basis—maybe some feta for your salad, parmesan for pasta, and sliced cheddar or provolone for your sandwiches. So don’t stop by that new, fancy cheese counter your store has installed. You know the one; it has all sorts of exotic cheeses with this and that fruit or herb. One little wedge may cost you $12.
The bread aisle
Get a fresh loaf from the bakery—it’s better than the sliced stuff and won’t contain the preservatives that packaged bread does. Plus, you know you get carried away in that bread aisle. Do you really need one loaf of honey oat bread, one loaf of white, one loaf of sourdough, one bag of poppy seed bagels and one bag of everything bagels?
The pre-packaged meats
You’ll probably get the better deals if you stop by the butchers counter. Furthermore, when you go to the butcher, you’re forced to stop and think about how much meat you really need. You discuss the pounds of this or that cut you’ll need for this many people. You don’t overdo it the way you do when you grab the packages of 20 chicken thighs.
The sauces and dressings isle
Make your own sauce and dressing at home. Tomato sauce for pasta and vinaigrette for salads are some of the easiest things to make from scratch. It’s silly and wasteful to spend money on bottled or jarred varieties.
The cakes, the cupcakes, the pastries, the lava cakes, the cheesecakes, the brownies, the cookies, the donuts…They send a heavenly (or deadly?) smell wafting your way. Don’t follow it. None of those foods are part of a nutritious meal.
Aw, that sample lady is so cute and cheery! Don’t you want to try the frozen chili she has heated up and is serving into little cups along with slices of store-bought cornbread? No. No, you do not. Because then you’ll definitely buy some.
Surprise manager’s specials
Even though manager’s specials can be great deals, if you hadn’t planned for that pork chop or pound of shrimp in your meals over the next 36 hours (about the expiration date of most manager’s specials) then it will just go to waste.
The seasonal prepped items
The front of the store will try to get you right away. Here you’ll find the exact items the store knows you’re craving at this time. If it’s the hot summer months, the coolers of popsicles and overpriced fruit salads will be here. Just walk by.