Do you feel that your food budget is not going as far as it should? Maybe you aren’t making the best “food” choices for your budget. Read below for my top 10 items to never buy at the grocery store.
I love to read blogs that outline how families spend their food budget. I really like to see what they purchase for weekly meals and how much money they saved that week. When someone displays their grocery haul and how much savings they have for that week many times all I see are cleaners, personal products and even diapers. These aren’t very tasty.
In the past, I thought I was saving a nice chunk of our food budget. But, when I went to the pantry to make dinner, I realized we had tons of toilet paper but little food.
Now I make it a point to only buy items that are edible at the grocery store. Then I find ways to use what we save on food to buy non-food items elsewhere.
Additionally, there is a list below of 10 items you should NEVER buy at the grocery store along with stores where you should be buying them instead.
Cleaning Products – I buy all our cleaning products at the Dollar Tree. I find their window cleaners and furniture polish do the same job as the bigger brands. I also buy their laundry detergent if I can’t find a better deal elsewhere. On a side note, you can find name brands too. Such as Comet, Ajax, Dawn and more.
Paper Products – One of the wisest money saving things we do yearly is subscribe to Amazon Prime. When we have get togethers, we purchase Chinet Platter Paper Plates. The price at Publix is $5.99 for 24 platter plates. Earlier this year, I found them at this awesome price:
I was able to get 96 platter plates for $5.56. SCORE!
Toiletry Products – By far the best places to purchase name brand toiletry products are Walmart and Target. Walmart has the lowest prices on razor blades, hair products and skin products. Plus, you are able to use a coupon on top of their lower retail price.
Additionally, Target has great prices on toiletry products. On top of that, you are able to use a Target In-Store Coupon as well a manufacturer’s coupon. For extra savings, be sure to use Target’s Cartwheel App and be sure to apply online for a free Target REDcard debit card. By using the REDcard, you are eligible for 5% more savings + other perks.
Cosmetics – I am able to find Cover Girl, Maybelline, Revlon, LA Colors, e.l.f. and Physicians Formula at the Dollar Tree. Their selection is not as broad as Target or Walmart, but you can find quite a few eye shadows, lip colors, nail polishes, makeup brushes and sponges.
Seasonal Merchandise – Do not EVER buy your outdoor patio furniture or a barbeque grill at the grocery store. Chances are you will find way better deals at end-of-season sales at Home Depot, Lowes, Big Lots, Walmart or Target. You can also find great deals at your local Goodwill or garage sales.
Over-the-Counter Medicines – Hands down the lowest prices I see for OTC medicines is Walmart. However, there are times when I can purchase medicines for pennies or virtually free at CVS and Walgreens. Here’s how:
CVS allows you to use a manufacturer’s coupon along with a CVS store coupon. Additionally, CVS has a card that you can request online, in store or by using their App called an “Extra Bucks Reward Card”. You can earn “ECBs” (Extra Care Bucks) each week on certain items in their circular. Basically, ECBs are “money” that you can use at CVS. I use them to purchase medicine, magazines, or goodies I normally do not buy.
For extra savings, I also use an online or manufacturer’s coupon and pay for items with my ECBs. Be certain to keep your eye on when your ECBs expire so you don’t miss out on free money.
Walgreens also allows you to use a manufacturer’s coupon along with a Walgreens store coupon. Additionally, Walgreens offers a Balance Rewards Membership which is free to join. You can become a member in the store during checkout, at their photo kiosk or you can download the Walgreens App. You can also go to Walgreens.com as well.
To break it down quickly, you get 10 points for every $1 you spend. Even better, each week you earn bonus points on featured products in their circular. When you earn enough points, you redeem for redemption dollars which are used as payment in a transaction. For more of a complete breakdown, go to Walgreens.com to see how this awesome membership works.
Spices – I purchase all my dried herbs/spices at the Dollar Tree. I do not taste a difference in McCormick’s Parsley Flakes or parsley flakes by Supreme Tradition (Dollar Tree brand).
Greeting Cards/Wrapping Paper – You cannot beat 2/$1 greeting cards at the Dollar Tree or their wrapping paper. The best price at the grocery store for a greeting card is $.99. It’s not as ornate as cards available for $.50 at the Dollar Tree or any dollar store for that matter.
Room Candles/Room Sprays – Please do not buy candles at the grocery store. Unless they are birthday candles that you forgot to buy at the Dollar Tree or Walmart.
Walmart carries Mainstays brand room candles for $2.80 for an 11.5 ounce candle. You cannot beat that price. Mainstays throw such a powerful scent that my veterinarian’s office uses them. The scent is actually overwhelming when you walk inside, that’s how highly fragranced they are.
As far as room sprays go, AirWick room sprays are $1 at the Dollar Tree and Walmart occasionally has seasonal sprays as low as $.97. Find a good coupon and you can get it for pennies or free.
Baby Diapers/Formula – Grocery store prices for diapers and formula are astronomical. The best place by far for buying diapers is Aldi. When my son was in diapers 10 years ago, I was buying the brand Aldi carried then. I believe those diapers were $5 which is the same price for the Little Journey brand that Aldi presently carries.
Not too long ago, I purchased a 50 pack of Little Journey diapers for $4.99 as a gift. They are awesome and have a wetness line indicator for leak prevention. They are also hypoallergenic.
Aldi also carries Little Journey Baby Formula. My neighbor’s daughter uses this brand with her second son and swears there is no difference in this brand compared to the Similac she used for her first son. Except the price. At $13 for 22 oz, Little Journey’s price is awesome.
However, if you feel you want to stay with the name brands for your baby, you can sign up for a Similac StrongMoms membership at http://Similac.com. As a member, you can get up to $400 in benefits. In the past, Similac has sent free formula samples, coupons to use and instant-rebate checks.
In a nutshell, I think the grocery store is the best place for deals on FOOD. All the other non-food items can be bought elsewhere for way less than grocery store prices and with a little know how you can get them for possibly free. And yes, it does require a bit more time and planning to go to different stores, but in the long run you will see your food budget go further for edible items. And who doesn’t want more savings?