27 Foods You Should Never Buy Again

Cross these items off your grocery store list—whether they're rip-offs, fakes, drastically unhealthy, or just plan gross, here are the foods to keep out of your shopping cart.

Adapted by Rachel Hofstetter from Dollar Savvy
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    Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

    A few shavings of nice cheese on top of pasta or vegetables can take a simple dish from good to great—but you don't have to fork out $22 a pound for the famous stuff. Instead, look for varieties like Pecorino Romano and SarVecchio, which offer the same flavor at half the price.

    Smoked and Cured Meats

    From fancy charcuterie to “dime a dog” night, pass on cured meats in any form—they’ve been linked to cancer, disease, high blood pressure, and migraines. Plus they’re packed with artery-clogging grease: regulations allow up to 50% (by weight) of fresh pork sausage to be fat.

    Photodisc/Thinkstock

    “Blueberry” items

    Ahh, blueberries...now in everything from your breakfast cereal to muffins, granola bars, and sauces—or are they? Turns out that most of the blueberry-flavored items on grocery store shelves don't feature a single actually berry, just artificial blueberry flavor. Buy your own berries and add them to plain cereal for a real health boost.

    Multi-grain bread

    This is junk food masquerading in a healthy disguise. Check the ingredient list to make sure whole wheat is the first, and main, ingredient—otherwise, you’re just getting a few grains mixed into regular white bread. Better yet, forgo the bread and enjoy straight-up barley, brown rice, quinoa, or steel-cut oats.

    Reduced fat peanut butter

    When companies take out the fat, they have to add something back in to make the food taste delicious. In this case, it’s lots of extra sugar—and who wants that? Instead, spread regular peanut butter on your sandwich for more of the good fats and protein without fake sweetness.

    Bottled tea

    Brew your iced tea at home and you'll save both big bucks and your waistline—bottled teas can have more grams of sugar than a soda or slice of pie.

    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 easier: 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 stovetop sauce.

    Swordfish

    Large bottom-feeder fish such as tuna, shark, king mackerel, tilefish, and especially swordfish are high in mercury. Choose smaller fish, like flounder, catfish, sardines, and salmon instead.

    Energy drinks

    Stick to a cup of coffee for your afternoon boost. Seemingly harmless caffeinated beverages are often sugar bombs—and the FDA has received numerous reports linking brands like 5 Hour Energy and Monster Energy to heart attacks, convulsion, and even death.

    Gluten-free baked goods

    If you aren't diagnosed with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, keep in mind that gluten-free doesn't necessarily mean healthy—and gluten-free baked goods like bread, cookies, and crackers often are packed with more refined flours, artificial ingredients, and sugar than traditional baked goods. Plus, they can cost up to twice as much as you'd normally spend.

    Flavored non-dairy milks

    Vanilla-eggnog-caramel soy milk doesn't win you any points in the health department—and it definitely won't help your grocery receipt bottom line. If you prefer non-dairy milks for personal dietary reasons, buy unsweetened versions. And if you're just trying to eat healthfully, skim milk should be just fine.

    Foods made of WOOD

    Take a look at the ingredient list for your high-fiber cereal or snack bar, and you'll probably see an ingredient called "cellulose." Turns out that cellulose is a code word for "wood pulp." Food manufacturers use it to extend their products and add fiber, so it looks like you’re getting more food. But really you’re just left with a mouthful of wood shavings.

    White rice

    Skip the refined grains and go for whole: a 17% higher risk of diabetes is associated with eating five or more servings of white rice per week, compared to eating white rice less than once a month.

    '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.

    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.

    Premium frozen fruit bars

    At nearly $2 per bar, frozen 'all fruit' or 'fruit and juice' bars may not be rich in calories, but they are certainly rich in price. Make your own at home — and get the flavors you want. To make four pops, just throw 2 cups cut-up fruit, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice into a blender. Cover and blend until smooth. You might wish to add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water so the final mix is a thick slush. Pour into 4-ounce pop molds or paper cups, insert sticks, and freeze until solid.

    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.


    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. 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.

    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. Check the label first: 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, and you can improvise as much as you want.

    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. To make 32 ounces of iced tea, it usually takes 8 bags of black tea or 10 bags of herbal, green, or white tea. If you like your tea sweet but want to keep calories down, skip the sugar and add fruit juice instead.

    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.

    Even taking into account the cost of filters, water from home is still much cheaper than bottled water, which can run up to $1 to $3 a pop.

    If you have well water and it really does not taste good (even with help from a filter), or if you have a baby at home who is bottle-fed and needs to drink safe water, buy jugs of distilled or 'nursery' water at big discount stores. They usually cost between 79 cents and 99 cents for 1 gallon (as opposed to $1.50 for 8 ounces of 'designer' water). And you can reuse the jugs to store homemade iced tea, flavored waters, or, when their tops are cut off, all sorts of household odds and ends.


    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.

    Individual servings of anything

    The recent trend to package small quantities into 100-calorie snack packs is a way for food-makers to get more money from unsuspecting consumers. The price 'per unit' cost of these items is significantly more than if you had just bought one big box of cheese crackers or bag of chips. This is exactly what you should do. Buy the big box and then parcel out single servings and store them in small, reusable storage bags.


    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? 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.

    'Snack' or 'lunch' packs

    These 'all-inclusive' food trays might seem reasonably priced (from $2.50 to $4.00), but you're actually paying for the highly designed label, wrapper, and specially molded tray. They only contain a few crackers and small pieces of cheese and lunchmeat. The actual edible ingredients are worth just pennies and are filled with salt.


    Gourmet ice cream

    It's painful to watch someone actually pay $6 for a gallon of designer brand ice cream. Don't bother. There's usually at least one brand or other on sale, and you can easily dress up store brands with your own additives like chunky bits of chocolate or crushed cookie. If you do like the premium brands, wait for that 3-week sales cycle to kick in and stock up when your favorite flavor is discounted.

    Pre-formed meat patties

    Frozen burgers, beef or otherwise, are more expensive than buying the ground meat in bulk and making patties yourself. We timed it — it takes less than 10 seconds to form a flat circle and throw it on the grill. Also, there's some evidence that pre-formed meat patties might contain more e. coli than regular ground meat. In fact, most of the recent beef recalls have involved pre-made frozen beef patties.


    Your Comments

    • evolutionairy

      What kills me: to most of the food listed, My first thought was, “Yeah, no sh&*.” The multigrain bread and gluten-free baked goods were surprising (to me). Then it got me thinking: most do not have a good foundational knowledge of nutrition, and, even if they do, it *is* more expensive to eat healthily. I didn’t until I shown an appropriate diet. I try to eat 40:30:30 (ratio of proteins:carbohydrates:fats). This has allowed me to reach my goal weight and maintain it. One thing I would potentially like to see amended is the listing of protein bars. While I agree the majority of the bars on the market fit the description given (extremely low protein – 2 to 4 grams – with high carb content), there are some very good protein bars that fit the 40:30:30 requirement and range between 170 to 220 calories (for me, perfect for a meal replacement on the go – I eat 5 to 6 meals a days, with a target of 1400 calories, choosing what I eat based on the ratio I mentioned).

    • Don

      Why on Earth are you using comments from 3 years ago??????!!!!!!!

    • Bill

      Never giving up my meats and woe be to the person that tries to take them!

    • http://www.clevergirlreviews.com/ Clever Girl Reviews

      You do know that Pecorino is made with sheep’s milk and Parmesan with cow right? They taste nothing alike.

    • Phyllis Anne

      SORRY, I’M NOT BUYING YOUR ADVICE ON DRINKING OUR PERFECTLY FINE AND CHEAP TAP WATER. I’M A KNOWLEDGEABLE CONSUMER! AND AN RN. CAN’T FOOL ME! AND YOU SHOULDN’T BE FOOLING OTHER PEOPLE EITHER!
      Chlorinated and flouridated water is a sensitive subject for me.

      In regards to bottled water. I’ve lived in California, Arizona, Nevada, Washington and each state treats the water so heavily with chlorine and/or flouride, that the strong smell is pervasive when I run the faucet or fill a glass with the tap water. It’s terrible. I’ve used pool chemical testers, and the level of chlorine at times is way over the acceptable limit! Very strong odor of chlorine at all times and since I also have asthma which reacts to noxious fumes, including perfumes and chemicals, the chlorine gas smell breathed in does cause me to have an asthma attack. The other day, I got a deep whiff of the chlorine in the water, and I felt like I had stuck my nose into the opening of a bottle of Chlorox and took a deep breath! My fan had gotten turned off. I keep a small desk fan to blow air across the sink away from me, which helps.

      Be logical, If you can smell the strong chlorine then it IS that strong, then It seems obvious to me that there is too much chlorine in the water! And ingesting that high a level of chlorine CANNOT be healthy! However, so many people who do drink tap water are unaware that the chlorine is known to kill bacteria in the water (making it safe to drink??) but it also commonly kills off the good bacteria in our intestines and colon, and chronic debilitating diarrhea is a common result. Dr. Oz recently made this statement as well. Many people who’ve the diagnosis of Irritable Bowel and suffering with chronic diarrhea, and who do drink tap water, the chlorine in the water could very well be the cause of their chronic diarrhea. It’s sad that so many people are affected in this way until they learn how drinking chlorine water is the cause of their ills. I too had the idea that it was cheaper to drink tap water, yet I suffered with daily chronic diarrhea and Irritable Bowel for 25 years and was just told I had IBS, until I learned the correlation between chlorinated tap water and IBS/diarrhea. I’m no fool now!

      Here’s an interesting experiment I did. I have two cats and one small dog. I’ve always given them distilled or bottled water since they were wee babies. About ten different times in the past 8 months, I placed tap water in their usual large water bowls. THEY REFUSE TO DRINK IT! Then, after 12 hours, I place a clean bowl of bottled water near the chlorinated tap water. They run for the bowl and drink a lot. Since I’ve done this experiment ten times already, they’ve become smart. They know that eventually they will get good water. SO MY POINT IS, it is instinctual for animals to refuse to drink bad water. They’re not stupid! Neither am I.

      Water delivery companies are responsible. They at least regularly recycle their plastic bottles to prevent “age leaching” of the bad stuff from plastic bottles that are used and reused too many times. AND they use the healthiest plastics known, and the cost is not much more than 5 gallons in the “not so good” plastic bottles at the “big box stores”, so telling me that the cost is so high for this bottled water, I’m sorry, a water company WILL charge way more if it did cost that much more to deliver the water to homes. Landfills are filled with designer bottles and so is our ocean garbage dump.

      I won’t even start the discussion on the bio-film inside the city water pipes! However, bio-film is a slime that builds up on the interior surface of the water pipes, and this slime also harbors and breeds bacteria and other toxins.
      And I’m not going to get on the subject of the poison known as flouride.

      I am responsible, I do not buy small bottles unless caught in a tight situation (rarely). I have used only bottled water, two 5 gallon jugs a month, for 10 years, and no more IBS problems. I also send the man twice a month to refill the 5 gallon jug at the reverse osmosis kiosk for 1.25. I had used a 10 gallon fully automatic water distiller for over 6 years prior upon recommendation from my MD who recommended I NOT drink TAP WATER! No more IBS! Then distiller quit working and I’ve since relied on water delivery, two 5 gallon jugs a month. I don’t buy the little bottles, but use an Eco bottle for on the go.

      SO I’M ANNOYED “DOLLAR SAVVY,” YOU DIDN’T DO YOUR RESEARCH ON BOTTLED WATER VS TAP WATER ADEQUATELY, I’LL NOT BE DRINKING OUR POISONED TAP WATER! AND NEITHER WILL MY ANIMALS BECAUSE THEY’RE SMART ENOUGH TO KNOW IT’S BAD STUFF!

      Disclaimer, I am not a Conspiracy Theory believer, however, it is interesting to read sometimes, and some of it can make quite a bit of sense. So, as a side note, in Conspiracy Theory, city water pipes have had other pipes hooked up to the main line, and these other smaller pipes are electronically controlled to open and close when the switch is turned. No one knows why the water companies are installing these small pipes onto the main lines, but Conspiracy Theorists say that it is to reduce the population via water borne pathogens/poisons or to control them with drugs in a situation of Martial Law or ?? Google ‘city water pipes’