Rip Off #1: Big Packages
Watch out for stores trying to trick you into thinking the biggest package means the best value. Just as at warehouse stores, it always pays to do the math. Outsmart it by scanning the shelf tag for the cost per unit - you might find that the medium size offers the best value. No shelf tag? Bring a pocket calculator (or use the one on your phone) and divide the cost by the number of ounces or grams.
Bonus Tip: If you haver a coupon, do your calculations after you factor in the savings it provides.
Rip Off #2: Salad and Hot-Food Bars
There's nothing wrong with hitting one of those bars for a quick entree or side dish for tonight's dinner, but becareful what you choose, since everything is priced per pound. If you're buying an inexpensive item such as macaroni and cheese or baked means for example, you could end up paying far too much. Purchase only items that are pricey to begin with, such as roast beef and chicken parmesan - those can be a decent deal, since you're only buying what you need. Just don't be fooled into spending $4 on 15 cents worth of Jell-O.
Rip Off #3: Packaged Sliced Lunch Meat:
Cold cuts are convenient, but you pay a premium for pre-slicing and packaging. A 7.5 ounce container of sliced ham can run more than $10 per pound, while a larger smoked ham- which you could also use for dinners - is usually far less at about $3 a pound. Buy uncut ham and slice it yourself for sandwiches. Serve thicker slices for dinners and use smaller pieces to flavor soups or pastas. Freeze anything you don't want to use right away. Do the same with a whole turkey breast.
Bonus Tip: If you opt to buy deli meat, compare the per-pound prices of pre-sliced and sliced-to-order meats.
Rip Off #4: Bottled Water
Supermarkets devote shelves to bottled water, and often have refrigerated bottles at the register, too. Even at its cheapest, 1 cent per ounce of bottled water is still more than 300 times as costly as tap water. If you drink one 16-ounce bottle of water everyday for a year at $1.50 per bottle, you're spending more than $545. Multiply that by every person in your household! Drink your tap water. Install a filter if taste or contaminants are a concern (you can find a faucet-mounted Pur filter online for as little as $35 and it filters about 100 gallons of water).
Rip-Off #5: Sale Prices in Multiples
Do you go straight for those three-for$5 deals in the store? Who doesn't? But watch out for such sales. Some prompt you to buy more than you otherwise would. For example, a 10-for-$10 deal on apples might sound great, until you realize you're paying $1 per apple, perhaps a worse deal than if you just buy the three you want - and the extra fruit might go to waste. Other wonderful-sounding deals (three avocados for $5) can get your to buy items you don't really need or desire. Use a calculator to ensure you're actually getting a bargain.