Disposable Grocery Store Products That Are a Total Waste of Money

Many Americans have a love-hate relationship with their local grocery store. On one hand, it’s filled with delicious food ready for the taking. On the other, it’s likely your store is hiding a few secrets about what really goes on behind the scenes. Then, of course, there’s the issue of cost. Grocery store products are getting more and more unaffordable offering products that are either too expensive or are a total waste of money.

This is most apparent with disposables. Ahead are 15 disposable products that are not worth the money and what alternative product you should buy instead.

1. Paper towels

close up of paper towel

Paper towels go fast. | iStock/Getty Images

  • What to buy instead: Cloth towels

A value-pack of microfiber cloths will cost you just a few dollars more than a pack of paper towels, but the cloths will definitely last longer. Microfiber cloths are washable and don’t need replacing after every use. Plus, their teeny hooks that grab dust and dirt clean better, according to Donna Smallin Kuper, certified house cleaning technician and CNBC.

Next: Tested and approved

2. Alkaline batteries

close up of batteries

Most batteries are seriously overpriced. | iStock/Getty Images

  • What to buy instead: rechargeable batteries

When it comes to grocery store products that are a waste of money, batteries fall near the top of the list. A cost analysis by The Simple Dollar found that households who use rechargeable batteries over non-rechargeable batteries will save more than $77 dollars per year. In this instance, it’s wise to fund a higher upfront cost for rechargeables than it is to throw money away every few months.

Next: This product is a total waste of money

3. Detergent pods

Person holding detergent pod in hand in front of laundry machine

Bonus points: Kids won’t eat liquid detergent. | ssuaphoto/iStock/Getty Images

  • What to buy instead: Powder or liquid detergent

When it comes to detergent — laundry or dishwashing — there’s good, better, and best. An analysis by Reviewed.com found that pods can be a huge waste of money based on a few factors. If you’re looking for grocery store products worth your coin, go with powder. Powder detergents perform better, last longer, and come in a more environmentally-friendly package.

Next: Attention coffee drinkers

4. Single-serve coffee pods

Keurig K-cups and coffee beans

You pay extra for the convenience. | leekris/iStock/Getty Images

  • What to buy instead: Ground coffee or whole beans

Single-portion coffee pods are convenient for rushed mornings and solo coffee drinkers. But even a value pack of those pods cost more than a bag of whole beans or ground coffee in a can — both of which last longer. Business Insider did the math. Based on consumption and price, single-serve pods cost up to five times more than ground coffee.

Next: Don’t waste your money on these, either.

5. Paper coffee filters

female hand pulling out used coffee filter

It adds up for coffee lovers. | tab1962/iStock/Getty Images

  • What to buy instead: Cloth or metal reusable filters

While we’re on the subject of coffee, you might as well toss your paper coffee filters, too. Unless, of course, wasting money is alright with you. Sure, buying paper coffee filters won’t necessarily break the bank, but that doesn’t mean it’s worth sacrificing a few hard-earned dollars on a worthless product. Drip coffee makers can use a reusable filter, and single serve pots work just as well with reusable cups.

Next: Two reasons not to buy these grocery store products

6. Plastic bottles of water

Row of water bottles

The environment will thank you too. | Tezzstock/iStock/Getty Images

  • What to buy instead: A water filter

The negative effects plastic bottles have on the environment is a widely discussed topic. Millions of bottled lace landfills every year, and they take anywhere from 450 to 1,000 years to decompose. But there are additional reasons to stop buying plastic water bottles: They are a waste of money. Tap water can be cleaned and consumed through a filtration system that lasts for six to twelve months. Reusable water bottles are even more cost effective than disposable bottles.

Next: Buy these instead

7. Plastic straws 

Colorful drinking straws background.

Plastic straws are a waste of money, plus they’re bad for the environment. | Monrudee/iStock/Getty Images

  • What to buy instead: Nothing or steel straws

Yes, we know that few things can replace the joy that comes from sipping cocktails on a warm day. But when it’s time to enjoy a beverage, it’ll be more cost effective to do so without a straw. Did you know there is a whole market of reusable steel and plastic straws out there? They’ll cost a little more upfront, but you’ll save money forgoing those useless disposable products in the long run.

Next: A cheap packing solution

8. Zip-top bags

locked refrigerator bag to store food in the refrigerator,

| hatipoglu/iStock/Getty Images

  • What to buy to instead: reusable baggies

Disposable grocery store products like zip-top bags are a perfect pack-and-go solution. But they’re also a waste of money considering they can only be used once. Reusable baggies are available in many stores. A whole set of varying sizes will cost you less than $20, officially eliminating the need to spend a few bucks every month on the throw-aways.

Next: A steep dilemma

9. Tea bags

Tea bag in a hot tea cup on a table

Loose leaf tea has way more flavor. | eugenekeebler/iStock/Getty Images

  • What to buy instead: Loose leaf tea

Sometimes shoppers are willing to spend the money if it means securing a better-performing product. In the case of tea, some say that buying loose leaf tea is worth the added expense. Boxes of bagged tea on the other hand, won’t produce near the flavor as its counterpart. Plus, loose tea can be found in bulk at a reasonable price. Should you compromise on price or flavor? Tough call.

Next: A must know for restaurant lovers

10. Takeaway prepared food

Chinese take out food in boxes

Those convenient meals will add up big time. | rez-art/iStock/Getty Images

  • What to buy instead: Grocery story products to make at home

According to a 2016 Time article, grocery store prices actually fell by 0.5% while restaurant prices rose an average of 2.7%. This means it is actually cheaper to make a home-cooked meal than buy a premade meal in take-out containers. We’re not saying take-out isn’t convenient or delicious, but it will cost you over time.

Next: A cheaper solution

11. Paper or plastic plates

Stack of Paper Plates on Seamless Background

Yes, you may have to wash some dishes, but it’s worth it. | Sunstock/iStock/Getty Images

  • What to buy instead: Thrift store dishes

It’s yet another tale of unnecessary waste. Using paper plates once, then tossing them in the trash means you’re also throwing money away. Sure, paper plates are cost-effective and convenient for large parties, but a new-to-you set of reusable dishes can be bought for mere dollars at a thrift store. You don’t have to worry about these cost-effective sets get damaged or ruined because they’re not your “good china”. Plus, you’re not wasting money each time it’s time to stock up on a new paper pack.

Next: Sticking with the paper theme

12. Paper and plastic cutlery or cups

Used Disposable plastic Cups

Save money by investing in solid cutlery and glasses. | josemoraes/iStock/Getty Images

  • What to buy instead: Metal or bamboo products

By now you know there’s a running theme here. Grocery store products with a paper or plastic base are almost always deemed a waste of money when considering the reusable alternatives available. Savvy shoppers can save money by keeping metal utensils and mugs in their office for lunch instead of plastic ones. Bamboo disposable cutlery is also eco-friendly.

Next: An ingenious life hack

13. Plastic wrap & aluminum foil

Stuffed peppers covered in plastic wrap

You can even get free ones from yogurt containers. | mtutuncu/iStock/Getty Images

  • What to buy instead: Tupperware or reusable food containers

Any casual DIY-er knows that take out containers and leftover food cartridges come can be used in many creative ways. In the same vein they can be used for projects, they can double as food storage in place of plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Plastic yogurt containers, for example, are much more useful as food storage containers than they are wasting away in a landfill.

Next: A simple trick for saving money

14. Any lunchbox-sized packaged food items

mini chips ahoy

Buy in bulk for better deals. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

  • What to buy instead: Buy in bulk and divide into smaller portions

You’ll spend more money on most pre-packaged food items from the grocery store, like pre-cut fruit, deli meat, or single serve chip containers, than you would on most bulk items. It’s the packaging that jacks up the price on portioned foods, so it’s best to buy in bulk and make your own portion instead. This will not only save money, but it’ll cut back on waste as well.

Next: A product that’s not worth the cash

15. Disposable cameras

Disposable cameras and camcorders

They can be fun occasionally, but the quality on your phone is way better. | Tim Boyle/Getty Images

  • What to buy instead: Use your phone

Disposable cameras may work for a throwback party highlighting the early 2000s, but in terms of which products are worth your money, it’s best you pass on these cameras. Your smartphone will take quality shots instantly — especially the newer versions. Also, high-quality digital cameras that won’t break the bank are commonly sold in stores like Walmart and Best Buy.

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