To avoid paying too much during your next trip to the local grocer, think at least thrice before casually tossing any of the following most overpriced grocery items into your cart.
Brand-name spices and spice blends
If you are interested in saving money, pass on these grossly overpriced taste boosters, as most of your purchase price pays for a brand name instead of product quality. Generic spices have an identical level of potency and flavor as their name-brand counterparts. Moreover, contrary to popular belief, preparing branded spices with celebrity chef endorsements requires no special training or expertise. Finally, careful scrutiny of package labels on such “high-end” spices readily reveals that their primary ingredient is salt – an incredibly cheap taste enhancer. Average price markup for branded spices and spice blends ranges from 100 to 500 percent.
Diced, chopped, or sliced produce carry an average price tag that is 35 percent higher than whole fruits or veggies. This is an excessive convenience premium. Shopping for in-season produce at a local street vendor or farmers’ market is the best strategy for those with a serious interest in saving money.
Pre-sliced or cubed meat
Most meats have very brief refrigerator shelf lives of a mere five days, after which time they must be discarded. Consequently, most grocers mark up meat prices at least a 30 percent to compensate for frequent and substantial meat-related financial losses. Steak prices, for example, have average markups that range between 40 and 50 percent. The price of many less expensive cuts like chuck and round have up to a 60 percent markup. Price markups for lesser meat cuts that are usually cut into smaller pieces for inclusion in stew or stir-fries might be as high as 300 percent.
Thrifty food hunters must therefore never buy these “mini meats” at full price, as they are always discounted at some subsequent point. Instead, food buyers with a serious bent for saving money should seek price markdowns on meat that is close to its sell-by date or visit bulk-quantity stores like Costco to save as much as 30 percent on bigger slabs of meat. Simply refrigerate any unused portion(s) until you are ready to use them.