Things You Should Never Buy at the Grocery Store

If you need to make a quick purchase, chances are the first place you think of going is the grocery store. However, this isn’t always the best place to meet your shopping needs. When it comes to quality, quantity, and price, there are times when you can get a better deal elsewhere. This might come as a surprise, but when you take the time to do some comparison shopping, you’ll see it pays to go elsewhere for some items.

Here are eight things you should never buy at the grocery store.

1. Office supplies

pencils and notebooks in variety of colors

Office supply stores have better prices. | iStock/Getty Images

Your best bet is to buy your office supplies at an office supply store, such as Staples. You can get better prices at an office store, especially during certain times of the year, such as the back-to-school season. If you only need simple items, such as pens, pencils, paper clips, and note pads, you can get the best prices at your local dollar store.

2. Pet food

Little dog maltese and black and white cat eating food from a bowl in home

It’s often better to buy in bulk. | Humonia/iStock/Getty Images

If you’re short on time, you might grab a bag or a couple of cans of pet food and toss them in your cart without thinking much about it. However, purchasing pet food from the grocery store isn’t the best way to stretch your dollars. Because pets tend to go through food quickly, you would be better off buying pet food in bulk at a warehouse store, such as Costco or BJ’s. This way you can get the most for your money.    

3. Kitchen supplies

Hanging pots in kitchen

Supermarkets tend to overprice kitchen supplies. | Berryspun/iStock/Getty Images

You can get a better price for kitchen supplies when you make your purchase at a department store or online. The selection of supermarket kitchen supplies is often limited and not the best quality. Kitchen items also tend to be overpriced. When making a cookware purchase take into consideration whether it’s more cost effective to purchase a single item or a cookware set. If you only need to replace a scratched pan, for example, it won’t make much sense to buy an entire new set of pots and pans.

4. Batteries

close up of batteries

You can probably find them cheaper if you shop around. | iStock/Getty Images

You might see packs of batteries at the checkout counter, but don’t give in to the urge to grab a pack. There are better prices on batteries at the dollar store and at big-box retailers or warehouse stores. You can get more batteries for the same price or less when you shop around. And don’t be deterred by generic brands. Depending on what you need the batteries for, off brands can be just as good as brand names.

5. Flowers

Red roses and flowers

Flower markets likely have a better price. | Konoplytska/iStock/Getty Images

You can get better prices on fresh flowers when you buy them at a local flower market. In addition, if you decide to visit a flower shop, you can sometimes get a pretty good discount. If you’re a member of a professional association, a senior citizen, or a regular customer, you might be able to get a discounted price, reports Reader’s Digest.   

6. Greeting cards

greeting card aisle

Shop around for your greeting cards. | Chris Hondros/Getty Images

It’s easier to grab a greeting card from the stationery aisle than it is to make a trip to a separate store. But when it comes to greeting cards, trading convenience for a lower price will pay off. Look online for lower-priced greeting cards, where you can often find bulk deals. Websites, such as Shutterfly and Cardstore, offer deals throughout the year.

7. Household tools


Head to the hardware store instead. | iStock/Getty Images

Do you need an extension cord, a screwdriver, or some other small household tool? The grocery store is not the place to buy it. These types of items are usually overpriced when you purchase them from the grocery store. Like kitchen supplies, you’ll also have a limited selection and a higher price. Instead, visit a hardware or department store.

8. Toiletries

johnson's baby shampoo

Big-box stores have better prices. | Mike Clarke/AFP/Getty Images

Shampoo, lotion, razors, and other personal-care items abound at the grocery store. What you might not know is big-box stores such as Target and Walmart tend to have better prices on these items than supermarkets. Keep track of sales at these stores by downloading their apps so you’ll be the first to know about sales and coupons. Drug stores are also not the best bet when it comes to toiletries. ShopSmart magazine found big-box stores were most likely to have highest prices, while drug stores often had the highest price.

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