By Barbara Pronin
In today’s busy world, it seems expedient to shop as much as we can in one place – most often at the grocery store where, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the cost of feeding a family of four can run an average of $175 per week.
But supermarkets have tons of tricky ways to entice you to spend more than you intend. Consumer advocates tell us we can eat healthier and save money by avoiding the middle aisles, shopping primarily from the meat, produce, and dairy shelves around the outer perimeter of the store.
They recommend we save even more by leaving these seven traditionally overpriced items at the supermarket and buying them at far cheaper outlets:
- Salad bar food – It’s tempting to take home prepared veggies and salads from the salad bar. But it’s a lot cheaper and it doesn’t take much time to wash and cut fresh produce at home.
- Herbs and spices – For dried spices, shop the dollar store or visit local ethnic markets. For fresh herbs, such as basil and parsley, try growing your own in pots.
- Cooking tools and bakeware – These cost up to 30 percent more at supermarkets than at dollar stores or on sale at retail outlets.
- Shrinking package sizes – Instead of raising the price of an item, food manufacturers often shrink the size of the package. Packages may look the same, but read the price-per-ounce labels on store shelves to be sure you are getting the most amount of product for your dollar.
- Snack-sized packages – Individual, 100-calorie servings of crackers, nuts, and other snack foods are a tempting buy, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. But the cost per serving is significantly more than if you purchased a full sized bag and divided the servings into small zipper bags.
- Greeting cards and wrap – Why spend $4 or more for these goods at the supermarket when you can stock up on them for a buck or so apiece at the dollar store?
- Personal care and cleaning products – Surveys have found the best prices for beauty and personal care products, as well as cleaning products, are found at dollar stores or at reputable big-box stores.