5 Prepackaged Foods You Shouldn’t Buy at the Grocery Store

by Miranda Marquit · 8 comments

The intersection of health and personal finance is clear: Take good care of yourself, and you’ll avoid some of the long-term costs associated with poor health.

One way to get creative with your healthy choices is to change the way you shop at the grocery store. By avoiding some of the unhealthy and expensive prepackaged options, you’ll save money AND boost your health.

Here are five items you should stop putting in your cart:

1. Herbs

I haven’t bought spices at the store in a long time. Why? Because it’s possible to grow them at home. You don’t even need a garden — your windowsill will do. I grow basil, rosemary, oregano, thyme, and sage.

During the summer months, I always have fresh herbs, and in the fall, I harvest and dry what’s left. That way, I have herbs to use all winter. It’s an easy way to save money while still getting great flavors. Not to mention that herbs can often replace salt, boosting the healthy flavor of your food.

2. Salad dressing

You can make your own salad dressing at home. All you need is olive oil, herbs, and balsamic vinegar. If you want to get more creative, recipes for many types of salad dressings can be found online. With a little mayo, eggs, and sour cream, you can also create delicious dips at home.

3. Packaged sandwich meats

Depending on what you get, many pre-sliced and packaged meats are full of unhealthy preservatives. When it’s an option, I prefer to use leftover chicken and turkey on sandwiches. Since I try to buy locally raised, cage-free poultry, it’s usually healthier than pre-sliced meats.

If I do end up buying sandwich meat, I go for the freshly sliced stuff at the deli, which is usually not quite so unhealthy. Plus, it’s usually cheaper for me, since I purchase less than what comes in the packages.

4. Frozen dinners

You can make your own frozen dinners; you don’t need to buy them at the store. When I make chicken noodle soup, I usually freeze the leftovers in serving sizes for my family.

Whenever you’re cooking something, consider making extra portions to freeze. If you’re not sure what to freeze or how to do it, check out one of the many tutorials available online. Not only will you save money, you’ll avoid all of the chemicals found in prepackaged frozen dinners.

5. Canned fruits and vegetables

Buying frozen produce isn’t a problem — it’s when you buy the canned items that things get unhealthy. Canned vegetables and fruits are high in sodium and/or sugar, and they can be somewhat expensive. In many cases, frozen peas costs less per ounce than canned ones, and they’re healthier (and better tasting).

Of course, the best option is to grow your own produce. You’ll eat fresh, and you can freeze or can the produce on your own — without all the extra chemicals that go into prepackaged foods.

Any other prepackaged items you’d add to this list?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • JJ Keist says:

    How about macaroni & cheese, & noodle meals you just mix milk into & cook in your microwave? They start adding up after awhile if you eat them a lot, & they’re often fattening.

  • Michelle says:

    These are also on the “not to eat list” but I still do…

  • Kit says:

    We have a farmer’s market twice a week in our town. You can’t get any fresher and it feels great to support the local guys – your neighbors. Costs are lower and quality is much, much higher. Forget cans and packaged! Fresh is always cheaper – you’re not paying for processing, chemicals, packaging, and advertising. Buy local, buy fresh!

  • Danielle says:

    I make my own granola instead of buying it at the grocery store. The amount of added sugar in most granola sold in grocery stores is outrageous! All you need to make your own granola is old-fashioned oats, some chopped nuts, toasted coconut flakes and a bit of honey and/or maple syrup for a bit of sweetness — items you may already have in your pantry. Cheap and much better for you!

    • David @ MoneyNing.com says:

      The amount of sugar they put in almost everything to help prolong shelf life is actually quite starling. No wonder there’s obesity issues in America.

  • Kate @ Money Propeller says:

    I usually bought canned fruits and vegetables and salad dressing. Maybe it’s about time to make my own salad dressing.

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