Food Purchases That Are Hurting Your Budget

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Your grocery budget is one of the biggest monthly expenses you’ll have (other than housing). Why then, are you spending more than you need to? Don’t get trapped in food purchases that are ruining your budget. Learn how to replace these to save money and still indulge!

Food Purchases That Are Hurting Your Budget

It amazes me to think that certain everyday foods we use could be so costly when compared to their alternative counterparts. These food purchases literally destroy your budget. As I discovered, by using these products, I was throwing away money.

Yes, literally wasting (so to speak) money that we could be using on purchasing other food-related items. We made the switch to save money and found out that the alternatives contain the same quality and taste and, in fact, are much healthier for my family.

In fact, now that our family has made the switch, we are loving it. I would not see it any other way. Plus, I have also switched to a different method of tracking our grocery budget. This new tracker that I made keeps me in check each month. No more boo-boos. 

Making popcorn at home - pictured red and white popcorn containers

Microwave Popcorn

For a 3-count package of microwave popcorn, you can spend between $2.50 – $3.99 or $0.25 – $0.70 per ounce. This, of course, doesn’t include those extreme savers who can score a really great sale matched with coupons. 

For most of us, we can’t always count on those hit-or-miss sales.

By purchasing whole kernel popcorn and making it yourself, whether old-fashioned stovetop or air-popped style cooking, you can save a ton of money.

You can also you a brown paper lunch bag, add kernels, fold it over, and place it in a microwave. A bag of whole Kernel popcorn costs around $2.50 per 64 oz bag or $.04 an ounce. Using kernel popcorn versus microwave popcorn has many health benefits too.

Microwave popcorn contains extra oils, flavoring, seasonings, and ingredients to prepare and preserve freshness, while the whole kernel does not. Our favorite popper is the classic whirley popper.

Salad Dressings and marinades - pictured homemade salad dressing

Marinades & Salad Dressings

A bottle of salad dressing costs $3.39 ($0.46 an ounce), but purchasing bulk red wine and extra virgin olive oil comes out to less than $0.24 an ounce. I actually started making my own salad dressing during my radioactive treatment (for thyroid cancer). 

You see, I was not allowed to have anything that contained iodine (which, by the way, is found in almost everything we eat). It was a tough time, but I made it through (TWICE). I definitely learned alternative ways to cook food. 

I fell in love with this balsamic salad dressing recipe and the price difference. Alternately, marinades fall right in line with salad dressing, but they can cost more.

drink mixes - pictured mason jar with homemade pink lemonade

Drink Mixes

I absolutely LOVE my iced tea drink mix, but at $3.99 – $6.99 for 12 quarts I wanted to find an alternative. This was one of the easier food purchases I could change to stop destroying our grocery budget. 

I found 100-count tea bags of my favorite name brand for $3.50 (and $2 when on sale). I use 6 tea bags to make 2 quarts, plus sweeten with my favorite sweetener. You can make an average of 36 quarts of tea for almost 70% of the cost, including the cost of the sweetener.  

cooking oil - pictured three bottles of oil

NonStick Cooking Spay

A can of cooking spray costs roughly $4.49 depending on the brand name. I never realized until I purchased my Misto oil sprayer the amount of oil actually used in a can. Each can contain 3 oz of oil, propellant, and air. So, think about paying $4.49 for only 3 oz of oil. 

Yes, there is a little upfront cost to saving more money, but not much. I found my Misto on Amazon

The Misto is easy to use – fill it 1/3 up with oil, pump 10 times, and spray on the pan. It’s a great way to further reduce the waste we send to the landfill and save a few bucks! Plus, it also helps to control the oil I use while cooking, so I am using less of it.

potato chips - pictured potato chipsi n blue bowl

Snacks, Cookies, & Sodas

These items can be found in our house, but are now within limits. Snack foods & soda can add a hefty sum to your check-out bill, not including those empty calories you will consume.

Limit yourself and your family to purchasing one temptation per trip. Have a sweet tooth? Buy the fun-sized items and have just one. Save yourself some money and calories.

Food purchases like these are often the hardest to stop, but you can even train yourself to make your own homemade versions for lower cost and lower calories.

coffee at coffee shop - pictures two cups of coffee in white mugs


The coffee craze is filled with the convenience of using k-cups. First, there’s the cost of the machine. These machines are not cheap. In fact, the least expensive Keurig coffee maker is $100, which seems fairly typical. You can purchase traditional drip coffee for as low as $15.

According to “K-Cups versus ground coffee, showed that the per-cup cost was 66¢ versus 28¢, respectively.

If you make three cups a day, 365 days a year, that adds up to around $723 spent on K-Cups, versus $307 for regular coffee brewers. So you’d easily save $400 a year by going the old-fashioned route”. Which is pretty incredible if you think about it.

 If you are looking for more convenience, you can make prep your coffee the night before and set an alarm to brew (which more makers have), and wake up to a freshly brewed cup of joe.

Many food purchases like these are made for convenience. Learning to take the time to create your own versions using less expensive products will help your budget, but most likely, your health will be affected in a great way.

Which food purchases are destroying your budget? Leave us a comment below. We would love to hear from you.

More Grocery Savings Tips:

Unexpected Places to Help You Find the Best Food Deals

Meal Planning 101 – With Printable

How Much Should I Really Be Spending On Groceries?

6 food Purchases that can kill your budget - pictured produce section of grocery store

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  1. I have another tip to add as for the spray oils. When I open a stick of butter I put the wax wrapper into a sandwich baggie and store it in the freezer. When I need to grease or coat a pan I pull out a wrapper and rub it in. ?

  2. These definitely are the pricier items in our budget. I find that I buy these items and stock up when they go on sale.

  3. I should get that Misto. Cooking spray is expensive and if I can cut down on buying that, then why no! Thank you for these tips and for making me aware of how much I am spending for things I can just make myself.

  4. Great ideas to save money! I am so guilty of wasting money on k-cups – a traditional route is so much cheaper wow!

  5. I’ve been thinking about this for quite some time. I have always thought of alternatives especially after grocery shopping and taking a glance at the receipt in my hand. I know I have to do something to save money from grocery shopping and I found this list 🙂

  6. Wow I didn’t realize these purchases effect budget. I will be implementing these tips next time I go shopping!

  7. I love all these money-saving tips on everyday purchases! i definitely need to look into coffee and teas – I bought a lot of those!

  8. These food products can certainly add up when your purchase them every week. I like the idea of making your own salad dressings to save money. Much healthier too!

  9. So true! There are such simple ways to solve that are still convenient. Personally, our biggest budget killer is soda water… we could make it ourselves from home!

  10. I love these tips! I think I’m as attracted to having fewer chemicals in my life as I am to the money I can save.

  11. I’m so guilty of buying a lot of Marinades & Salad Dressings. It’s totally expensive! I usually make my own now. It’s much cheaper!

  12. Wonderful tips for some cool savings. And if you count the money saved annually, that could perhaps pay for the holiday for you and your hubby to the islands. Thanks for the valuable insight.

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