If you love food, a trip to the supermarket can be a glorious thing — zipping up and down the brightly lit aisles, grabbing items from bountiful shelves and eagerly anticipating digging in. But it can just as easily be a stressful experience, full of price comparisons, wading through difficult-to-understand ingredients lists and the eternal struggle to pick out the best product from a shelf of seemingly identical items.
There are, however, some grocery items that might be better to avoid entirely. Some contain undesirable ingredients, some don’t provide the nutrients you may be expecting, some are way more expensive to buy than to make at home, and most of them are vastly inferior to a fresh version prepared in the comfort of your own kitchen.
Baking mixes and pancake mix
Sure, baking mixes are convenient — who doesn’t love a lazy Saturday morning spent making waffles or pancakes from a box? Just a scoop, some eggs, a splash of milk and voila! Batter is done. But those premixed boxes, while handy, are kind of a waste of money and, once again, could be loaded with unpronounceable ingredients.
So why not just make your own mixes? It’s really not that complicated — simply combine all of the dry ingredients in your favorite recipe and store them in an airtight jar until they’re ready for use.
You can buy bottled water cheaply, but it’s 2019, and in case you haven’t been paying attention, plastic is making our planet very sad. Do Mother Earth a favor and buy some sort of eco-friendly water filtration system so that you can have clean-tasting water without creating unnecessary waste. Water filter pitchers and bottles aren’t all that expensive, and you can buy them practically anywhere. Or just drink tap water.
Canned fruit and vegetables
If you have access to fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, those really are the better-for-you options. Canned vegetables sometimes have a really high sodium content, and canned fruit is often swimming in sugar syrup, so if you’re using them in lieu of the fresh stuff, you might be missing out on a lot of their natural goodness.
Of course, if there’s no other option, a meal made from canned goods is not going to cause irreparable harm, but try not to make canned fruits and vegetables the center of every meal.
You should never use cooking wine. Why? For starters, it doesn’t taste good. The kind you find in American supermarkets is cheap, low-quality wine loaded with salt and preservatives. You might recognize brands like Roland, Goya and Holland House, all of which are labeled “not for sale or use as a beverage.” Stay away from those and just use regular, drinkable wine to cook with instead — and pour a glass for yourself while you’re at it.
Croutons and bread crumbs
Don’t spend money on those dry, sawdust-like breadcrumbs that seem to have an indefinite shelf-life. Just make your own. If you have a stale loaf of bread that has seen better days, just slice it into manageable pieces and bake them in a low-temperature oven for croutons or throw them in your food processor for breadcrumbs. Store them in an airtight container in the freezer until you need them and never rely on the store-bought stuff again.
Frozen and canned pasta
The convenience of warming up a frozen pasta dish in a matter of minutes via microwave is pretty incredible, but most are loaded with fat and sodium. It doesn’t really take that long to boil noodles and make your own sauce (or use some from the store if you must), and it tastes a million times better.