Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Foods To Never Buy Again

Here is a pretty interesting list of foods that Reader's Digest shared that tend to add a lot of extra expense to the grocery budget.  I'll admit I'm guilty of buying several of these for convenience sake.  My plan is to try to spend a little more time and avoid the trap of spending more money just to go easy on myself.

1. "Gourmet" frozen vegetables.
Sure, you can buy an 8-ounce packet of peas in an herbed butter sauce, but why do so when you can make your own? Just cook the peas, add a pat of butter and sprinkle on some herbs that you already have on hand. The same thing goes for carrots with dill sauce and other gourmet veggies.

2. Microwave sandwiches.
When you buy a pre-made sandwich, you're really just paying for its elaborate packaging — plus a whole lot of salt, fat, and unnecessary additives. For the average cost of one of these babies ($2.50 to $3.00 per sandwich), you could make a bigger, better, and more nutritious version yourself.

 3. Boxed rice “entree” or side-dish mixes.
These consist basically of rice, salt, and spices — yet they're priced way beyond the ingredients sold individually. Yes, there are a few flavorings included, but they're probably ones you have in your pantry already. Buy a bag of rice, measure out what you need, add your own herbs and other seasonings, and cook the rice according to package directions.

4. Energy or protein bars.
 These calorie-laden bars are usually stacked at the checkout counter because they depend on impulse buyers who grab them, thinking they are more wholesome than a candy bar. Unfortunately, they can have very high fat and sugar contents and are often as caloric as a regular candy bar. They're also two to three times more expensive than a candy bar at $2 to $3 a bar. If you need a boost, a vitamin-rich piece of fruit, a yogurt, or a small handful of nuts is more satiating and less expensive!

 5. Spice mixes.
 Spice mixes like grill seasoning and rib rubs might seem like a good buy because they contain a lot of spices that you would have to buy individually. Well, check the label; we predict the first ingredient you will see on the package is salt, followed by the vague "herbs and spices." Look in your own pantry, and you'll probably be surprised to discover just how many herbs you already have on hand. Many cookbooks today include spice mix recipes, particularly grilling cookbooks. But the great thing about spice mixes is that you can improvise as much as you want. Make your own custom combos and save a fortune.

6. Powdered iced tea mixes or prepared flavored iced tea.
Powdered and gourmet iced teas are really a rip-off! It's much cheaper to make your own iced tea from actual (inexpensive) tea bags and keep a jug in the fridge. Plus, many mixes and preparations are loaded with high fructose corn syrup and other sugars, along with artificial flavors. So make your own, and get creative! To make 32 ounces of iced tea, it usually takes 8 bags of black tea or 10 bags of herbal, green, or white tea. Most tea-bag boxes have recipes, so just follow along. If you like your tea sweet but want to keep calories down, skip the sugar and add fruit juice instead.

7. Bottled water.
 Bottled water is a bad investment for so many reasons. It's expensive compared to what's coming out of the tap, its cost to the environment is high (it takes a lot of fossil fuel to produce and ship all those bottles), and it's not even better for your health than the stuff running down your drain!

8. Salad kits.
Washed and bagged greens can be a time-saver, but they can cost three times as much as buying the same amount of a head of lettuce. Even more expensive are "salad kits," where you get some greens, a small bag of dressing, and a small bag of croutons. Skip these altogether. Make your own croutons by toasting cut-up stale bread you would otherwise toss, and try mixing your own salad dressing.

 9. Trail mix.
 We checked unit prices of those small bags of trail mix hanging in the candy aisle not that long ago and were shocked to find that they cost about $10 a pound! Make your own for much, much less with a 1-pound can of dry roasted peanuts, 1 cup of raisins, and a handful of almonds, dried fruit, and candy coated chocolate. The best part about making your own is that you only include the things you like! Keep the mixture in a plastic or glass container with a tight lid for up to 3 weeks.

10. Tomato-based pasta sauces.
A jar of spaghetti sauce typically runs $2 to $6. The equivalent amount of canned tomatoes is often under $1. Our suggestion: Make your own sauces from canned crushed tomatoes or fresh tomatoes — particularly in the summer, when they are plentiful, tasty, and cheap. The easiest method is to put crushed tomatoes (canned or fresh) into a skillet, stir in some wine or wine vinegar, a little sugar, your favorite herbs, and whatever chopped vegetables you like in your sauce — peppers, onions, mushrooms, even carrots — and let simmer for an hour. Adjust the flavorings and serve. Even better: Coat fresh tomatoes and the top of a cooking sheet with olive oil and roast the tomatoes for 20 to 30 minutes at 425˚F before making your stove top sauce. Delicioso!
Further reading found at  15 Foods You Should Never Buy Again



  1. Thanks for sharing. It pays to think things thru.

    Have a wonderful day.

  2. I know, I know, but some of those things seem to make my life so much easier!

    Just wondering if anybody ever made a seasoned rice mix in canning jars. Ya' know the rage that started a few years ago? Think I am going to go BING my own answer...

    Great post, always could use a few more ways to tighten the belt.

  3. I was good with all of that (in fact, have eliminated almost all of it anyhow to save $$) ... except the rices. I just don't know how to make a good Spanish rice on my own. Any suggestions?

  4. Oh wow, I thought I was doing fairly well - and then you got me on the trail mix, for sure! And I'm a bit guilty with the protein bars, too - but not for myself. I do pay for convenience....boo.

  5. Wonderful tips! Many of these I never buy, but I do love those bags of washed lettuce. No drying involved!

    Great suggestions!

  6. guilty for about 1/2 of those items. Very interesting info. I do have to say though, I think it is good to have some bottled water on hand, just in case....we live in Southern California and it is recommended in case of an earthquake to have bottled water.

    thanks for posting the info :)

    hope Tuesday is a good one for you!



Thank you for sharing your commment. It is a joy and blessing to hear from you and your words are appreciated.