- Sugary drinks. No one needs them and they are not good for you. They also inflate your grocery ticket. Recommend : water , milk, tea coffee.
- Snack foods. Again, sugar and salt are not the best things for you. There is sugar hiding in a lot of foods. Scratch cooking gives you the luxury of knowing exactly what you are eating. The manufacturers are sneaky and have all kinds of word to hide the amount of sugar you are eating, Another big budget buster and diet buster .
- Ready made anything. It just makes sense that the more labor that goes into making something the more its going to cost. There are a few exceptions. Pasta sauce is one. It cost more to buy the tomatoes than it does to buy then sauce. It might be different if you grown them from seed and have a bumper crop. A few other things just take too much time to be worth your while. Most of us have more to do than to cook all day. Pick your recipes wisely.
- Spice mixes . The cost is prohibitive for a few teaspoons of a spice blend. Most spice blends have a recipe somewhere on the internet. Spices are cheap at the discount stores or you can get small quantities in the bulk isle. Note to people in the PNW: winco is cheaper than QFC on their spices.
- Cereal and granola. Again not much bang for your buck. Oatmeal is one of the cheapest cereals and very nutritious. Granola is easy to make. Again, children can learn to cook as you go along. We started baking at 9. My granddaughter knows how to make pizza from scratch with supervision. No hot , not sharp,and no raw meat. She is 5. Teaching them at an early age to wash their hands and make things will save you a lot of time later and teach them life skill in the meantime. Life skills are not taught at school anymore. I hear.
- Small quantities of things that you use almost daily. Generally, the smaller the package, the more per ounce it is going to cost. There are always exceptions. It doesn't pay to buy a huge can of something that will go bad before you will use it all up. Most families cant use a number 10 can of anything. Sometimes if you are using a coupon matching it with the smaller package will make it almost free. I buy popcorn, oatmeal, flour, and rice in bulk. For the cost of 8-1/2 pounds of rice, I can have 25 pounds. Almost three times as much. It will not spoil before we use.it. If I buy a quantity of fruits or veggies because the price is beyond right I will plan to dehydrate them. If something isn't getting used up fast enough, it gets put in the dehydrator. Carrots come out exactly like they went in after you put them in soup.
- Bringing people to the store with you. Children especially. If kids are throwing a fit, you can't concentrate on what you are doing. Spouses are notorious for adding things to the cart.
- Buying individual packages of meat. Rotation of meat and buying in quantity ( mega packs) when they are a good prices saves a lot of money. It only takes a few minutes to break down the packs in portion controlled meal packets and freeze. Buy enough to cover as many meals of that meat you will eat in a four to six week period of time. Buy something else the following week. You are still eating a variety of meats , you are just not paying full price for anything.
- Buying anything at full price. Buy the things that are on really good sale. For veggies and fruit that is usually what is in season. It tastes better and is more healthy because it is fresher. Meats are usually on sale on a rotation basis in the larger supermarkets. Take advantage of the mega packs and rotate your meat purchases. If you only buy what's on sale and buy enough to last you until it goes on sale again you will never pay full price. Your market basket might not look balanced but your pantry will. Less money, more food.
- Know your prices. Don't sweat the price of that can of cranberry sauce that you buy once a year. Identify the things you use on a regular basis and keep a little notebook if you cant remember. Little notebooks are 3/1.00 at the Dollar Tree. Or type an excell spread sheet and put it in your purse or coupon book. Most shoppers have a list of about 15-20 items. Things like diced tomatoes, green beans, pasta, pasta sauce, dairy products, chicken, cheese, pork chops, hamburger, diced chillies, tuna, canned salmon and veggies. I have a rule, I dont buyI dont buy a vegetable or fruit unless its under a dollar. In the 70s it was .39, then it went to .69 in the 80s . Now its a dollar. Rarely do I pay more . That usually means we dont eat much asparagus LOL.
Extra thing: Don't buy your groceries on line unless you are in a pickle or have health issues that don't enable you to go to the store. Its a convenience and you are paying with higher prices and delivery fees.
Watching what goes in your cart is paramount in keeping your bottom line down.