Although it is convenient to grab everything at the grocery store, sometimes it's best to only buy certain items and shop for the rest at other locations such as specialty stores or the dollar store. One of the best ways to save money at the grocery store is to keep away from the items that are marked up. I talked to consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch, who shared eight items you shouldn't put in your grocery cart.
Cubed or Presliced Meat
"Meat markup is up to 60 percent and much more for precut or precubed meats. Since meat has a refrigerated shelf life of just five days and must then be thrown out, most meat departments in grocery stores aim for a minimum 30 percent markup, and often much higher, to make up for losses.
Steaks, for instance, are marked up 40 percent to 50 percent; some cheaper cuts, such as round and chuck meat, are marked up as much as 60 percent. Lesser cuts of meat, those typically cut into pieces for stir-fries or stews are marked up as much as 300 percent, should never be bought at full price because they're always discounted at some point (look for markdowns on meats that near their sell-by date or hit up bulk stores like Costco for savings of up to 30 percent off larger slabs of meat. You can refrigerate that which you don't use for later)."
"Name-brand spices are marked up close to 97 percent. Smart shoppers can buy spices at a natural food store to save you up to 97 percent on the basic spices people buy regularly. For instance, a $3.52 jar of bay leaves at the grocery store will cost you only 12 cents for the same amount at a natural foods store. Drugstores and discount stores also sell spices cheaper than at a grocery store. You may have to bring your own bottles to fill but the savings make up for this."
"Bakery items are marked up nearly 100 percent as you’re paying for convenience. For instance, $20 supermarket cake can be made from scratch or out of a box at home for just $5 (or less by purchasing sale items and using coupons for the boxed goods).
Bread can also be baked inexpensively at home. Since most people won't bake bread at home, look for buy-one-get-one-free deals and freeze one loaf or buy when bread is marked down. Savvy shoppers will ask store managers when bread gets marked down — usually nearing the expiration date or end of the day."
Brand Name Cereal
"Establishing product differentiation and aggressive brand promotion are key aspects of cereal markups. Production costs and retailer share make up about 36 percent and 20 percent of the retail price of cereal, the rest (44 percent) is average manufacturer gross margin.
One of the most basic cereals, Kellogg's Corn Flakes, had the highest average retail markup of 43.5 percent. At the low end was an average 18.2 percent markup. Buying generic is a smart means of saving money, nearly 50 percent. Compare ingredients of name brand with generic — if the ingredients are the same, you won't taste much of a difference. In fact, most store labels (generic) are actually produced by the big-name brands. They just happen to use different packaging — packaging that didn't cost a lot in marketing dollars to attract customers. However, this difference in packaging results in prices that are as much as 50 percent cheaper!
Compare the nutritional information and ingredient order of a favorite brand and a store label. Chances are, they will be identical and if so, you will be satisfied with it while saving a ton of money. Note: most stores offer a money-back guarantee on their own brands, so keep the receipt just in case."
"[Batteries] are marked up as much as 60 percent. Stay away from batteries at the grocery store and instead throw them in your online cart next time you're browsing Target or Walmart's website. Better yet, hop on over to a warehouse store like Sam's Club or Costco where you can find double the quantity of batteries for the same cost as your local supermarket. Since batteries have no expiration date, buying in large quantities is A-OK!"
"Produce that has been presliced, prechopped or diced for the consumer will cost on average 35 percent more than the whole vegetable or fruit. Shoppers are paying for convenience but a task that takes no more than five minutes, isn't worth paying more for.
Opt to shop for produce at a local farmers market and buy only what's "in season" to enjoy the lowest prices. Better yet, pop by a street vendor for the least expensive fruit and veggies."
"Though warehouse stores offer unbeatable prices on bulk laundry detergent and other household cleaning supplies for that matter, you could skip the special visit to the store altogether by purchasing online at stores like Walmart and Target. With various free shipping deals and online coupons ($5 off $50 at Target from CouponSherpa.com), you could stock up on bulk detergent and avoid lugging to and from your car. And, since laundry is one of those never-ending chores, the bulk stuff won't get wasted."
Personal Care Products
"From body lotion to shampoo and toothpaste, unless it's on sale, skip it. The best deals are offered at various drug stores like CVS (with coupons), Walmart, and even cheapest at dollar stores (makeup applicators, cotton swabs, shampoo, etc)."
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