1 Frozen fruit bars
Those “fruit and juice” bars that cost $2 a pop at the grocery store are usually filled with preservatives and other unnecessary flavor ingredients. Why not make your own at home? Just make a simple blended juice smoothie, pour it into a paper cup, add a popsicle stick and freeze!
2 Trail mix
Pre-packaged trail mix products are not only expensive, but they are often mostly filled with the unhealthy unnecessaries like candied chocolates, raisins, and peanuts. Make your own by selecting nuts high in healthy fats and unsulfured dried fruits.
3 Spice rubs
Spice rubs or mixes are often sold at the meat counter and seem like a good buy because you get all those ingredients in a single package. If you check the label first, you’d notice that the first ingredient is salt — and that most of the other herbs that follow are actually already in your own pantry.
4 Energy drinks
Gone are the college (fraternity) days of chasing the Red Bull truck — if you need an afternoon boost of energy, get a cup of coffee instead. Caffeinated energy drinks are usually packed with sugar and the FDA has numerous reports linking items like 5 Hour Energy and Monster Energy to heart attacks, convulsions, and even death.
5 Energy or protein bars
Energy bars are high in calories — not because of protein but because of carbohydrates! When they claim to be low-carb, they often contain sugar alcohol that tends to cause bloating and other unwanted symptoms. Opt for yogurt or fruit next time.
6 Boxed rice mixes
Most things are better when made from scratch, and rice is no exception. Boxed rice entree or side dishes usually contain low quality rice, spices, and a lot of salt to make a flavorful dish. Instead of cooking out of a box, why not think outside of one and learn to season your own rice?
7 Gourmet frozen vegetables
It’s a no brainer that buying fresh veggies will almost always be healthier than buying frozen ones, but so-called gourmet frozen vegetables are often high in fat and sugar — and more often than not, they don’t taste as good as plain veggies cooked with some butter and salt.
8 Foods containing cellulose
Have you ever noticed the ingredient “cellulose” on the packaging of a snack bar that claims to be high in fiber? Well, cellulose is actually a code word for wood pulp additive, which manufacturers use to add fiber content to their foods. Would you want to eat wood shavings for lunch?
9 Flavored non-dairy milks
Rice milk, almond milk, vanilla flavored soymilk… the list goes on. Remember the days when there was only one kind of milk? Well, if you must buy a non-dairy milk, try to find an utnsweentened one that is low on the carb scale. The only one with a decent amount of protein will be unflavored soymilk, which is far healthier than sweet vanilla flavored ones.
10 Pasta sauces
A jar of spaghetti or pizza sauce usually runs anywhere between $2 and $6 at the grocery store when a can of tomatoes is often just 99cents. We suggest making your own tomato-based pasta sauce from scratch — it’s easy, refreshing, and cheap. Why not skip all the preservatives AND save money at the same time?
11 Bottled tea
Did you know that bottled sweetened teas often have more grams of sugar or corn syrup than a simple soda or even a slice of heavenly tasting pie? That’s right — it’s better for your waistline AND your pocketbook to brew your own iced tea at home.
12 Reduced fat peanut butter
As with most reduced fat items on the market, when the fat gets taken out, extra sugar (or in most cases, corn syrup) gets added to the mix. Peanut butter is no exception. Skip the low fat option and just get the original full fat one — it’s full of great healthy fats and protein that make shakes and sandwiches delicious and healthy.
13 Blueberry flavored items
The labels may say blueberry, but buyer beware — most of the time, those items don’t contain any real blueberries, just the artificial flavor. Skip the flavored yogurts, granola bars, and muffins and instead opt for a plain item and add your own fresh berries.
14 Cured meats
Pass on the hot dogs and salami at lunchtime. Cured meats have been linked to cancer, disease, high blood pressure and migraines. They’re literally full of fat — pork sausages are allowed up to 50% of fat by weight!
15 Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
For some yummy Italian cheese to top your pasta, salad, or other dishes, it may seem like a fortune to put down $22 a pound for Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — and it is! Look for variations like Pecorino Romano and SarVecchio that have a similar flavor and can be had at half the price.