Cross these items off your grocery list! With the help of Readers Digest’s list of 27 foods you should never buy, you can eliminate these expensive and unnecessary food items from your diet. There are always healthier, less expensive, and more practical foods to experiment with for your family’s favorite snacks and dishes.
1. Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese: A few shavings of nice cheese on top of pasta or vegetables can take a simple dish from good to great, but you don’t have to fork out $22 a pound for the famous stuff. Instead, look for varieties like Pecorino Romano and SarVecchio, which offer the same flavor at half the price.
2. Smoked and Cured Meats: From fancy charcuterie to “dime a dog” night, pass on cured meats in any form—they’ve been linked to cancer, disease, high blood pressure, and migraines. Plus they’re packed with artery-clogging grease: regulations allow up to 50% (by weight) of fresh pork sausage to be fat.
>> Read about 10 foods you should never, ever eat.
3. “Blueberry” Items: Ahh, blueberries…now in everything from your breakfast cereal to muffins, granola bars, and sauces—or are they? Turns out that most of the blueberry-flavored items on grocery store shelves don’t feature a single actually berry, just artificial blueberry flavor. Buy your own berries and add them to plain cereal for a real health boost.
4. Multi-grain bread: This is junk food masquerading in a healthy disguise. Check the ingredient list to make sure whole wheat is the first, and main, ingredient—otherwise, you’re just getting a few grains mixed into regular white bread. Better yet, forgo the bread and enjoy straight-up barley, brown rice, quinoa, or steel-cut oats.
5. Reduced-Fat Peanut Butter: When companies take out the fat, they have to add something back in to make the food taste delicious. In this case, it’s lots of extra sugar—and who wants that? Instead, spread regular peanut butter on your sandwich for more of the good fats and protein without fake sweetness.
7. Tomato-Based Pasta Sauces: A jar of spaghetti sauce typically runs $2 to $6. The equivalent amount of canned tomatoes is often under $1. Our suggestion: Make your own sauces from canned crushed tomatoes or fresh tomatoes — particularly in the summer, when they are plentiful, tasty, and cheap. The easiest method is to put crushed tomatoes (canned or fresh) into a skillet, stir in some wine or wine vinegar, a little sugar, your favorite herbs, and whatever chopped vegetables you like in your sauce — peppers, onions, mushrooms, even carrots — and let simmer for an hour. Adjust the flavorings and serve. Even easier: Coat fresh tomatoes and the top of a cooking sheet with olive oil and roast the tomatoes for 20 to 30 minutes at 425˚F before making your stovetop sauce.
8. Swordfish: Large bottom-feeder fish such as tuna, shark, king mackerel, tilefish, and especially swordfish are high in mercury. Choose smaller fish, like flounder, catfish, sardines, and salmon instead.
9. Energy drinks: Stick to a cup of coffee for your afternoon boost. Seemingly harmless caffeinated beverages are often sugar bombs—and the FDA has received numerous reports linking brands like 5 Hour Energy and Monster Energy to heart attacks, convulsion, and even death.
10. Gluten-free baked goods: If you aren’t diagnosed with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, keep in mind that gluten-free doesn’t necessarily mean healthy—and gluten-free baked goods like bread, cookies, and crackers are often packed with more refined flours, artificial ingredients, and sugar than traditional baked goods. Plus, they can cost up to twice as much as you’d normally spend.
11. Flavored non-dairy milks: Vanilla-eggnog-caramel soy milk doesn’t win you any points in the health department—and it definitely won’t help your grocery receipt bottom line. If you prefer non-dairy milks for personal dietary reasons, buy unsweetened versions. And if you’re just trying to eat healthfully, skim milk should be just fine.
12. Foods made of WOOD: Take a look at the ingredient list for your high-fiber cereal or snack bar, and you’ll probably see an ingredient called “cellulose.” Turns out that cellulose is a code word for “wood pulp.” Food manufacturers use it to extend their products and add fiber, so it looks like you’re getting more food. But really you’re just left with a mouthful of wood shavings.
13. White Rice: Skip the refined grains and go for whole: a 17% higher risk of diabetes is associated with eating five or more servings of white rice per week, compared to eating white rice less than once a month.
Want to read about more grocery items you should keep off your list? Click here to be taken to the original story on Reader’s Digest.