Although economic figures show inflation is decreasing, ridiculously high supermarket costs have not. When you compare the price of pantry staples from a year ago, the sticker shock can be surprising. Even basic foods are becoming increasingly expensive from eggs to butter to apples.
Many of us have had to change our weekly shopping habits to match our finances. Of course, the first step is to select the most cost-effective stores. But, unfortunately, even low-cost supermarkets have pricey items on their shelves.
As a general rule, buying convenience foods usually means sacrificing affordability. The extra effort, ingredients, and packaging of otherwise simple items can add a considerable cost over doing it yourself.
That’s not to say we’re against convenience—after all, we’ve been known to fancy up a tube or two of crescent rolls. However, remember that not everyone has the time or mobility to prepare every component from scratch. No judgment here if buying prepared foods works for you and your family. However, purely financially, it adds a significant amount of money to your shopping bill.
With that said, these are the seven most pricey things available at your local grocery.
Avocados are already costly, but readymade guacamole from the refrigerator section? Unfortunately, a small tub can cost more than the federal minimum wage! The container, the labor required to make it, and the ingredients required to transform a simple avocado into a zesty dip all contribute to the increased cost.
But let’s be honest: the extra ingredients aren’t exactly lavish. Premade guacamole often contains only lime, cilantro, onion, and sometimes a few bits of tomato. You’re better off purchasing those ingredients separately and devoting 15 minutes to mashing the avocado yourself. Then, even if the total cost is the same, you’ll have a bigger quantity of fresher, more seasoned guacamole.
Fruit that has already been cut
Rows and rows of sliced fruit in plastic containers line the perimeter of your produce section’s chilled displays. The brilliant assortment of hues, from pineapple and mango to basic sliced apples, can be very appealing.
However, this ease comes at a steep cost. Pre-cut fruit may be past its peak while still costing an arm and a leg. We appreciate the appeal of having the prep work done for you when it comes to entire fruits that are difficult to chop on your own, such as pineapples and melons. However, if you can do it yourself, you only need a sharp knife and some time.
Rice is a common ingredient in many cuisines around the world and comes in a variety of forms. Depending on the dish, you may wish to purchase boxes or bags of seasoned rice with extra flavorings. When you glance in the grain aisle and see boxes for a few dollars, it appears to be a cost-effective option. However, it is one of the most costly goods in the entire store.
Yes, a large bag of plain rice costs more than a box of garlic and herb pilaf. However, when measured on the most fundamental level, i.e, the price per pound, those seasoned rice packs might be roughly six times as expensive. If you’re on a tight budget, simply season plain rice with your spices.
Granola sold in stores can come in various varieties and contain various grains, nuts, dried fruits, and spices. Some of those items can be expensive, but rolled oats are the main ingredient in most granola. Even in the face of inflation, oats (particularly generic ones) are one of the most cost-effective groceries available.
You can simply create your batch of granola at home for less than the price of retail brands. What’s more, the best part? You have control over what goes in it. Fill up containers with tiny amounts of your favorite nuts and seeds if your supermarket has a bulk food area to customize your breakfast on the cheap.
Transportation is another element that can significantly increase the cost of food. And, for the majority of American customers, the majority of their vegetables come from faraway farms during the off season. The more delicate the fruits and vegetables, the more expensive the transportation. And the most expensive item comes in the smallest package: berries.
Berries that are not in season in your area are most likely imported from warmer climates south of the border. And, because they spoil quickly, the accelerated transportation means your fruit might cost a fortune. Instead, we recommend purchasing seasonal fruit. If you really want a batch of lemon blueberry cheesecake bars, go for frozen.
A mixture of Trail Mixes
Nuts are already expensive, but something about packing them with a handful of raisins raises the price even higher. Store-bought trail mix often has only a few servings but is still priced in the double digits.
Making your own trail mix couldn’t be easier, and it’s completely customizable, just like making granola from scratch. You can take as much as you need for a low price if you can access bulk bins. For a less expensive option, combine a couple of your favorite nuts and dried fruits.
Broth de Bones
People have waxed lyrically about the health benefits of bone broth over regular chicken stock cartons. Collagen derived from animal bones can surely add richness to sauces and stews. But, to be honest, most store bone broths have so little collagen that it has no impact on your recipes.
And, with some broths costing four times the price of ordinary stock per pound, the cost/benefit ratio isn’t worth it. Better Than Bouillon is the most cost-effective store-bought option for individuals who don’t have the time or energy to prepare their own broth. Each eight-ounce container yields 32 cups of broth, making it the most affordable alternative at the store.
Learn more: Superfoods to Help Slow Aging After 40