Going to the grocery store is always an internal battle. Even with a watertight shopping list, it’s hard to resist the temptation when you see that extra good deal or you think about how much easier it would be to just pick up the ready-made stuff off the shelves. In the long run, these products either put a hole in your pocket or they just don’t have the ingredients that are advertised on the label. Here are some things you should avoid buying at the store.
1. Packaged Fruit Juice
Packaged fruit juice often masquerades as health food but this is far from the case. They’re often packed with sugar and contain little to no actual fruit. They’re possibly reconstituted from concentrate to make sure each product has a uniform flavor and texture. Even the ones that are advertised as freshly packaged tend to pack lots of sugar and often miss out on a lot of the actual fiber.
The Alternative: Buy fresh fruit and invest in a blender to get the whole fruit into your system. You can add some coconut water if you want to thin it out.
2. Salad Dressings
Have you ever looked at the ingredient list on store-bought salad dressing? Sure it’s convenient, but is it really worth all that money for a bunch of things you can’t even pronounce? Not to mention, your favorite ranch dressing, probably contains titanium dioxide(also used in sunscreens) to give it that white color.1 Try making your own, and we guarantee it’ll cost you a fraction of the price.
The Alternative: Stock up on different kinds of vinegar, oils, mustard, and fresh herbs to make your own personalized dressings when you need to.
3. Pre-Cut Fruits
It can be tempting to get the pre-cut fruit mix just because it saves time and effort. This is simply another way for supermarkets to separate you from your hard-earned cash. You’re paying a premium price for something you could do at home in a matter of minutes. Don’t give in to the urge and your wallet will thank you.
The Alternative: Look for sales on fresh seasonal fruit. Cut them up and store in freezer bags for quick access to a cold treat. Or throw them in your blender with some yogurt for a quick smoothie in the morning.
4. Pre-Made Dips
Whether it’s salsa, cheese dip, or hummus, buying it pre-made will not only cost you a fortune, but they’ll also have your blood pressure levels soaring. These jars of pre-made dips are usually packed with a crazy amount of sodium. If you’re looking to entertain a crowd on game night, fresh is the way to go.
The Alternative: Chop up fresh tomatoes, onions, and jalapenos. Add coriander, salt, lime, and mix well. You’ve got yourself an easy, healthy alternative to jarred salsa and it’ll taste much fresher and tastier. Make a double batch of this and add a mashed avocado to one batch for a cheat’s version of guacamole.
5. Low-Fat Products
Low-fat dairy products usually aren’t a cause for concern but anything else that is low-fat, usually is. Things like low-fat peanut butter are often fortified with other flavor additives to make up for the lack of fat. Often they have more sugar or sodium than their original counterparts. And the fats in peanut butter are the ones that are actually good for you!
The Alternative: Choose all-natural peanut butter with no added sugar or sodium. If you have a high powered blender or food processor you can buy different types of nuts and seeds and make your own nut butter to control the amount of sodium and sugar.
6. Grated Cheese
Go take a look at the ingredient list of on that package of shredded cheese. If one of them is cellulose, that’s usually a codeword for sawdust and it’s added to stop the cheese from clumping. Plus you would have no idea about the quality of the cheese, where it’s coming from, or how long it’s been in there.
The Alternative: Buy blocks of cheese and grate it yourself as you need it. It’s cheaper and healthier. To store your hard cheese, wrap it in waxed paper and store it in the vegetable compartment of your fridge. This allows it to breathe and mature while keeping it mold-free for longer.
7. Single-Portion Snacks
Those single portion tubs of ice cream and yogurt or portioned out crackers and cookies often cost a lot more money than the regular sized package. Eventually, your wallet will feel the pinch.
The Alternative: Get individual re-usable containers to take to work or store at home. Buy the regular package and separate out portion sizes when you get home.
8. Blueberry-Flavored Products
Sure, your favorite blueberry muffins definitely look like they have real blueberries in them. What else could those bits of purple possibly be? Well, we’re sorry to burst your bubble but they’re most likely sugar, gelling agents, and food coloring. If you’re looking for a burst of freshness and tartness from your favorite berry you won’t find in most shop-bought baked products.
The Alternative: Get fresh blueberries and bake your own muffins! Try using whole wheat flour and add oatmeal for some extra fiber.
9. Packaged Minced Meat
If you need minced meat for a recipe, you really shouldn’t choose that packet that’s sitting in the fridge in your supermarket. You can never tell exactly what kind of meat went into it, how much of it is fat, gristle, and sinew. It’s possible that a single package of minced meat can include meat from different animals which just increases the likelihood of contamination.
The Alternative: Go to your local butcher and ask for grass-fed, organic, free-range meat. Choose a particular cut and ask to have it ground. This way you can control exactly what kind of meat is going into your mince.
It’s just not worth buying these products from the store. Make these simple switches instead which will help you eat healthier and cheaper.