How to Avoid Spending Traps at the Grocery Store

Do you spend more than you think you should at the grocery store? Do you consider what you’re placing into your cart and then consider the alternatives? For example, do you realize that you are paying more for shredded cheese than you would for a whole block? Do you know that prepackaged deli meat is 50% more than the meat you receive fresh from the deli? Do you buy shredded lettuce even though you know it costs more and will spoil much more quickly then buying a whole head and chopping it up yourself?

I must admit that I’ve fallen into some of these spending traps. I used to buy prepackaged salad, but got fed up with how quickly it turned brown and converted to buying a whole head of romaine. The bags used to last a day or two, the head is sometimes good a week and a half later!

The same goes for shredded cheese. If I’m looking for a particular mix I might pick up the shredded variety, if I’m buying old fashioned cheddar I’ll just pick up a block and shred it myself. That is of course, unless I find a great sale on the shredded variety.

I loved the infographic I found one All You today. (You can view it at the end of this post.) It provides a list of spending traps along with ways to avoid them. I follow most of these rules, but I must admit that I still purchase a lot of boneless chicken. Most of my recipes call for the boneless variety so unless I’m making chicken soup or chicken stock I typically purchase boneless poultry.

Looking at the graphic definitely got me thinking about it though. We eat a lot of chicken! So much so that I recently complained about how tired I am of eating it. Many of my recipes require the chicken to be baked and chopped up prior to adding it to the dish and I’m wondering if it would be cheaper and tastier to bake the chicken with the bone in the oven and then cut around the bones to extract the meat.

Hmmm. I might have to give this a try. I barely have time to make dinner as it is, so if this adds too much time to the current repertoire then I’ll have to reconsider. But this might definitely be do-able for those Sundays when my husband watches the baby while I cook a few days worth of meals.

I’m also not so sure about buying produce in bulk. I’ve tried this many times and I’m often disappointed by the quality of the apples and oranges. When you pick them yourself you know they don’t have marks and bruises. When you buy the bag it’s more difficult to decipher the quality of the product. I’ve been buying the bag lately, but I find myself cutting out or eating around quite a few bruises in my produce.

Kudos to them though for pointing out the difference between smaller cut pieces of meat. I always buy the larger portions and divide them into freezer paper when I get home. I had no idea though that the markup was 300%!

Take a look at the graphic below and let me know what you think. Do you avoid spending traps at the grocery store? Can you think of any others that should have been included?

[Source: Daily Savings from All You] For more tips on smart shopping flip through this free digital issue of All You!

8 thoughts on “How to Avoid Spending Traps at the Grocery Store”

  1. Great tips! Keep in mind though that when you buy the cheaper bone in, skin on chicken you’re also paying for the weight of the bone and the skin. You can use them to make stock but it’s not as big a difference in price as it may seem; you’re getting more meat for the pound when you buy boneless which is why it costs more.

  2. I prepare my “roast” chicken in the crockpot. It turns out moist and falling off of the bone every time. I put aluminum foil balls in the bottom of the crockpot, and spray the sides and tops of foil balls with cooking spray. I rinse the chicken, take out its insides, dry it off, and grease it top and bottom with olive oil, and add salt and pepper. I “roast” it for 8 hours in crockpot. It tastes just like roasted chicken to me, and it will break into 4 pieces as you remove it from the crockpot. All of the fat drains through the balls so that the chicken isn’t sitting in the fat while it cooks. The skin doesn’t get very crispy, but I’ve asked for a mini torch for my birthday, and lots of people don’t eat that anyway. I pull all the meat off of the bones and we eat from it that night. Then I chop all the leftovers, adding celery, and make chicken salad for lunches. Whole chicken runs about 95 cents the pound, so I get 3 dinner servings and 3 or 4 lunch servings for $5!

  3. Love the hints, but have to agree with Bernie – my favorite store usually has boneless skinless chicken breasts on sale for $1.89 per pound, which I can’t beat with a whole chicken, which usually aren’t less than $1.29/pound. Take out the skin, bones, and dark meat, and the b/s breasts win the Cost Contest.

  4. I rarely go to big grocery stores (for 10 years I didn’t even live near a big grocery store), but I would never buy prepared salad. I think salad from grocery stores is bland and tasteless. (I buy from small green grocers and locally produced) . But, i have always thought ready prepared salad is just so pointless, it is just one of those things I have never understood, but then I am a big salad lover so maybe a little more picky than most people

  5. Bagged produce is less expensive, but I’ve also found that the quality is mixed, so I’d rather pay a little more and inspect each piece of fruit.

  6. My wife handles the grocery shopping, but she has a good handle on shopping for value. We plan our weekly menus based on what’s on sale in the flyer, and generally buy generic (though not entirely). We do buy the boneless chicken. I’m willing to pay a bit more on some things for the convenience.

  7. I find that buying bone in is not worth it for me. It’s such a hassle that I’d rather pay a little more. It may be that I need a little more practice, though and if I did it more often it would be easier and faster.


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