14 Items with the Biggest Markup at the Grocery Store

Posted at 10:30 AM on May 29, 2015 by I am THAT Lady: Lauren

May 29th, 2015

Do NOT buy these 14 Items at the grocery store! They have the biggest markup!

You’ve got your list and your keys, and you’re ready to head out to go grocery shopping. Not so fast!  There are some major money-zapping items that you should mark off your list right now. We hope you’ll enjoy these money saving tips on how to avoid the 14 items with the biggest markup at the grocery store.

light bulb (1)

Non-grocery items

Examples: light bulbs, motor oil, lawn furniture, coolers

The grocery store is counting on you buying these items so you don’t have to make one more stop. If you’re buying auto and home maintenance supplies at a grocery store then this is probably costing you a lot of money. Don’t let the convenience cost your family in the end.

Money Saving Tip

  • Make an extra stop at a big box store or a home improvement store to get the best prices on everyday household items.

precut vegetables (1)

Prepared Foods

Examples: deli sandwiches, salads, fruit trays, pre-cut produce, and other ready-to-eat meal products

These convenience items could be stickered with at least a 40% markup. You’re paying way more for prepared meals because of the convenience factor.

Money Saving Tips

  • Don’t go to the store hungry.
  • Don’t pay someone else for the privilege of chopping your veggies for you. You can make beautiful fruit trays and hoagie sandwiches at home for almost half the cost of pre-made items. And they’ll be so much fresher!

cereal (1)


Examples: name-brand cold cereals and packages of flavored instant oatmeal

No, I do not particularly want to wake up and make a 4-course meal for breakfast every day. Cereal can save time and even money, but not if you’re paying for a name brand and not if you’re paying regular price. These breakfast items are usually marked up about 40%.

Money Saving Tips

  • Try generic cereals that are usually shelved right beside the name brands.
  • Always check unit pricing. I’ve seen unit pricing on the larger sizes actually end up costing more than a small box.
  • You can save so much when you wait for a sale and use coupons. Even without clipping coupons, sometimes you can stock up on some rock-bottom sale-priced cereal.
  • Mix your own pre-mixed oatmeal packets for pennies on the dollar compared to the flavored packages at the store.

pills (1)

Brand name over-the-counter medications

Examples: pain medication, cough and cold medication, children’s remedies

Many times the brand names are the same content with the same active ingredients as what’s in the generic varieties. Be smart and don’t pay for the name brand label.

Money Saving Tips

  • Don’t pay for a brand name if it’s the same as the generic. Check the label and save up to 40% on the same medication.
  • Get lots of details here on how generics can achieve the same goal and save money, too.

beauty products (1)

Cosmetics and Beauty Supplies

Examples: Makeup, face creams, lotions

50% markup is what you’ll be paying if you buy beauty products at the grocery store. That kind of convenience is costly.

Money Saving Tips

  • Shop around and find the best prices on beauty products in your area. Some beauty supply stores are open to the public and even put out their own coupons.
  • Clip coupons and watch for sales if you are brand loyal. This could save you hundreds of dollars a year.
  • You could also save money by making some beauty products yourself.  Check out this post with some great tips on making your own leave-in conditioner, exfoliating face scrub, and more.

deli meat (1)

Deli Meats and Cheeses

Examples: expensive, hand-sliced meats and cheeses

You can expect about a 50% markup when you go to the deli counter. Those items are marked up because of the special care that has to be taken to hire a dedicated employee to manage that area. Unless you’re a single person that buys a maximum of 5 slices of meat per week then you should avoid the deli counter completely because you’re throwing away your money.

Money Saving Tips

  • You can find most varieties of cheese in the dairy section. The dairy shelves at my grocery store offer feta, bleu cheese, muenster, smoked provolone, and several varieties of imported cheeses.
  • Many packaged lunch meat makers have several varieties beyond bologna that you might not know about. I’ve recently seen great varieties of roast beef, pastrami, and dozens of types of ham and turkey in the packaged meat aisle.

butcher (1)

Butcher Meats

Example: any meat packaged in the store

You’ll pay up to 60% markup on fresh meats from the butcher counter area of your grocery store.  This is due to the quick turnaround they have to have on these fresh products.  A lot goes to waste because they just don’t sell it before it goes bad.  So they make up the cost by charging you more.

Money Saving Tips

batteries (1)


Examples:  you guessed it, batteries…AA, hearing aid batteries, 9volts… all of them!

Those 4 packs of batteries that you have to have (so you pick them up while you’re at the grocery store) are costing you up to a 70% markup.  That’s mega bucks if you use batteries as much as we do in my house.

Money Saving Tips

  • If you go through a ton of batteries with remotes, controllers, and the like, then it’s better to buy in bulk at Sam’s Club.  The last time I looked a 24 pack of name brand batteries was around $13.  That’s close to $0.50 per battery.  Batteries at my grocery store, on the other hand, average at about $1 each.
  • You can also keep your eyes open for a B1G1 sale at CVS.  I see the CVS brand on sale quite a bit, and that’s where we grab them if we don’t need a mega pack from a warehouse store.

produce out of season (1)

Out of Season Produce

Examples:  fruits and vegetables that don’t grow year round in your area

Lots of us are trying to eat healthier.  Unfortunately, the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables can come with up to a 75% markup.  If that produce isn’t coming from within 100 miles of you in the last week then you’re paying for storage and shipping.  That adds up and sucks the healthy right out of your budget.

Money Saving Tips

  • Buy in season.  Watch for rock bottom prices and ask your grocer what’s freshest and what’s coming out next week.  You should be adjusting your meal plans to fit the season.
  • Stock up and freeze produce to be enjoyed all year. Here are some easy tips of which produce items freeze well and how to keep those stock-up purchases feeding your family for months.
  • Sometimes even buying frozen will cost less.  Check the unit pricing and use frozen fruits and vegetables when it makes sense.

spices (1)


Examples:  basil, oregano, cumin, paprika, pepper, etc.

We all want to spice up our cooking without breaking the bank.  Brand name spices carry up to 97% markup.  There’s no reason to pay for a label when the product inside is the same as a generic spice or herb.

Money Saving Tips

  • Aldi has great prices on most spices and dried herbs.
  • Sometimes you can even find comparable spices at the dollar store.

coffee (1)


Examples:  brewed coffee and espresso drinks from a cafe in the grocery store

These are popping up all over our area and lots of moms love the extra caffeine boost.  But be the smart mom that passes up the 99% profit margin that brewed beverages bring with them.

Money Saving Tip

  • Bring your own coffee.  These bottles are the ones we use for hot and cold drinks.  We carry them everywhere.  They don’t break if you drop them and they’re leak proof – really!

bread (1)

Bakery Items

Examples:  breads, cakes, tortillas, muffins, cookies

Smart grocers pump the smells from the bakery into the entryway of their store.  It’s smart because I’ve never met anyone that didn’t LOVE the smell of fresh baked bread.  Well the smells are free, but the bakery items are marked up by 100%.  They’re convenient, but probably not worth the ding to your pocketbook.

Money Saving Tips

greeting cards (1)

Holiday and Gift Items

Examples:  greeting cards, boxes of chocolate, stuffed animals, balloons

200% markup!  Grocery stores really get us where they want us on this one.  We don’t really want to get the kids out of the car one more time today so we’ll pay double for that balloon and greeting card that sings.

Money Saving Tips

  • Make your own!  Everyone loves a heartfelt sentiment and hand-written note.
  • Buy boxed cards for every occasion.  This will save you a ton of money throughout the year for all those last-minute expressions.

water bottles (1)

Bottled Water

4,000% markup!  (No, that is not a typo!)

Usually, the water isn’t even special or imported from Europe. It’s a bottle of tap water.  No kidding here.  You are paying for lots of processing (for the bottle, not the water) and shipping.

Money Saving Tip

Do you know of other items we should watch out for when we’re trying to stick to our budget?  What are your favorite money saving tips?

14 times with a big markup FB

Ranch Slow-Cooker Chex Mix

Posted at 8:00 AM on May 29, 2015 by I am THAT Lady: Lauren

May 29th, 2015

Slow-Cooker RANCH Chex Mix - OMG - it is SO good! This is our favorite after school snack, it's super easy to make and the kids love it! AD @HVRanch

It is almost summer and I can just hear my kids – “Mom can we have a snack?”  Am I the only mom who gets asked that

I decided to be proactive about it and start to try out some fun new easy summer recipes.  Today, I made this Gluten-Free Ranch Slow-Cooker Chex Mix – it is AMAZING!

This is the perfect snack to whip together for a backyard picnic, a potluck, or just to have laying around the house for the kids to snack on.

First, you will need to go to your grocery store and pick up a few ingredients:

Chex mix ingredientsHere are the ingredients that you need:

  • 1/2 cup of butter  (1 stick)
  • 2 packs of Hidden Valley® NEW Greek Ranch Dip Mix (priced at $1.79)
  • 3 cups of Corn Chex
  • 3 cups of Rice Chex
  • 2 cups of Gluten-free pretzels (can use regular if you want, but it won’t be gluten-free)
  • 2 cups of Corn Chips (Fritos)

chex mix in pot


Next you dump the pretzels, chex, and corn chips into the slow-cooker.  You don’t have to make it pretty like I did, I just wanted to show you the ingredients.

Melt your 1/2 cup of butter and then dump the contents of TWO Hidden Valley® Greek Yogurt Dips Mix packets.

The Dip Mix has ZERO grams of Fat, so even though I am mixing it with butter, I consider it an okay treat!


Mix the melted butter and packets of Hidden Valley Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip Mix together, until combined.

pouring 2

Pour the butter and dip mix over the dry ingredients in the slow cooker.


Stir together until combined. I had to stir for a few minutes until I was confident that the dip mix had covered everything.

set it


Then you are going to cook on HIGH for two hours.  Make sure that you keep it UNCOVERED, or else it will get soggy. Stir every 30 minutes.




Once it has cooked for two hours, lay out on a sheet of tin foil or parchment paper.  Cool for about 30 minutes, then eat and enjoy!

Ranch Chex Mix FB

5 from 1 reviews
Ranch Slow-Cooker Chex Mix
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Snack
  • ½ cup of butter (1 stick)
  • 2 packs of Hidden Valley® NEW Greek Ranch Dip Mix
  • 3 cups of Corn Chex
  • 3 cups of Rice Chex
  • 2 cups of Gluten-free pretzels (can use regular if you want, but it won't be gluten-free)
  • 2 cups of Corn Chips (Fritos)
  1. Add Chex, pretzels, and corn chips to your Slow-Cooker.
  2. Melt ½ cup of butter and mix in 2 packs of Hidden Valley® NEW Greek Ranch Dip Mix.
  3. Pour butter and Ranch mix over dry ingredients.
  4. Stir until covered
  5. Cook on high for two hours, uncovered.
  6. Lay on flat surface to cool.
  7. Serve and enjoy!


This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Hidden Valley – Greek. The opinions and text are all mine.

6 Reasons Why I choose NOT to Homeschool

Posted at 10:44 AM on May 26, 2015 by I am THAT Lady: Lauren

May 26th, 2015

2015 Build Your Bundle Homeschool Sale
 At this point we have chosen NOT to homeschool our children, and this is why....

I had a conversation with a friend yesterday about homeschooling, and I said these exact words:

“I don’t think I am the homeschooling type of mom.”

She responded, “I don’t think any mom feels like they are.”

It really got me thinking about why I don’t homeschool my kids, and I came up with a few reasons why it just doesn’t work for us right now.

Here are the 6 reasons why I’ve chosen NOT to homeschool my kids right now:


1.) We have a very affordable Christian School that is a few minutes away from our house. The class sizes are small (under 12 kids), and my mother in law is the principal. I know all of the teachers personally, and my kids LOVE going there. I pay roughly $850 per month to send three of my kids to school there, which in my opinion is a STEAL! If we did not have this option, I would have really prayed harder about homeschooling.

There are sports, extracurricular activities and fun school plays, like the Christmas play Kaylee was a sheep in this past year. And they actually use a lot of traditional homeschooling curriculum.

2.) I was NOT a good student. Growing up, I was a C student. I did not do that well in school, and much of it was because I have a horrible memory. If you were to quiz me on our US history, I would get a big fat F… seriously, I am not proud of this fact at all, but I cannot remember one lick of history. It was not until I got to college that I started taking subjects that I enjoyed and my grades started to improve. My first semester of college, I got a 2.4 GPA, and by my junior year, I was getting consistent grades around 3.5. I am smart, but have always had a hard time applying myself when I was not interested in what was going on around me.

crabby abby

3.) How in the world would I handle homeschooling, working full time, and a crabby 20 month old named Abby?  I just don’t know how that could all work. I know there are many full time bloggers who also homeschool their kids. How in the world do they do it? Hats off to them. For real.

Lauren & Mark_0353

4.) I have the attention span of a two-year old.  The thought of sitting down and teaching for three hours makes me want to SCREAM. I don’t think that would go over too well when I am supposed to be the teacher.

Have you watched the movie “Up”? You know that dog that gets so distracted easily – he yells “Squirrel” throughout the movie? That is me – ask anyone who knows me. If I have a BIG IDEA, I usually am in the middle of telling someone about it when I get another idea and totally move onto another topic.

5.) I need a lot of ‘me time’.  I will say proudly that I am a great mom, but I also am a better mom when I work a few hours a day away from my kiddos. I may appear to be an extrovert, but secretly I love to be by myself. When Mark decided to quit his job and work with me, I had a hard time working next to him at first because he talked to me too much.

6.) I am NOT organized at all – the thought of picking out homeschool curriculum and having lots of papers around my house makes my skin crawl. I am a messy person by nature, and have to work SO hard to keep my clean presentable (which most of the time it isn’t).

I am not opposed to homeschooling in the future but at this very moment in our life, we have chosen not to. I’m also not against public schools at all either – our kids will probably go to the public high school.

Trust me, I’ve really thought and prayed hard about home-schooling, but at this point I just don’t feel like it’s my ‘thing’. It would become ‘my thing’ pretty fast if I thought one of my kids would do better because of it – but as of right now they are all thriving in the place where they are. But if that time ever comes, I know that I will have to change a few things about myself (which wouldn’t be a completely bad thing).

If you homeschool, I would love to know – how do you stay organized and motivated? What curriculum do you use?

If you do choose to homeschool, the amazing ONCE A YEAR Homeschool Bundle Sale is going on right now! Click here to view all bundles!

There are 19 individual bundles priced starting at $10, plus the BUILD YOUR OWN OPTIONS!!
These bundles are full of products from popular contributors!

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2015 Build Your Bundle Homeschool Sale
There are over 200 products available in 19 bundles, you can pick and choose which ones that you want!  It is a great way to save money and prices start on just $10.00!
Over 200 products in 19 bundles priced starting at just $10!

homeschool fb

83 Foods to Freeze or Foods NOT to Freeze

Posted at 11:20 AM on May 25, 2015 by I am THAT Lady: Lauren

May 25th, 2015

Freezing foods is a great way to buy things on sale and preserve them for later.  Most foods can be frozen with no problems.  It is important to note that some foods need preparation before being placed in the freezer.  Other foods don’t freeze well under any circumstances. See a full list of foods to freeze and not to freeze.

Last week I posted a huge article titled Freezer Cooking 101 – Everything you need to Freezer Cook Like a Pro.  Freezing foods is a great way to buy things on sale and preserve them for later.  Most foods can be frozen with no problems.  It is important to note that some foods need preparation before being placed in the freezer.  Other foods don’t freeze well under any circumstances.

Here’s an easy list of foods that you can freeze:

eggs (1)


  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Egg whites (must be raw)
  • Ice cream
  • Milk
  • Whipped cream (sweetened, in individual serving dollops)
  • Whole eggs (follow these extensive prep notes here)

Meat (1)


  • Bacon
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Crab
  • Fish
  • Hot dogs
  • Lobster
  • Lunch meat
  • Pork
  • Sausage
  • Scallops
  • Shrimp
  • Turkey
  • Wild game (venison, rabbit, duck, pheasant, squirrel, goose)

fruit (1)


Almost all produce can be frozen.  Here are some that freeze particularly well.  Make sure to follow prepping directions here for best results.

  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Avocado (pureed and prepped with lemon juice)
  • Beets
  • Berries
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cherries
  • Greens (including spinach and collards)
  • Mangos
  • Melon (chunks)
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
  • Onions
  • Peaches (peeled, sliced)
  • Peas
  • Pineapple (chunks)
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Squash (summer squash, zucchini, and all winter squashes)
  • Strawberries (hulled)
  • Sweet potatoes

PRODUCE THAT YOU CAN FREEZE (but only in certain circumstances):

  • Cabbage (will be soggy, CAN be used in cooked dishes after frozen)
  • Celery (only to be used in cooked dishes)
  • Garlic (frozen in oil)
  • Herbs (frozen in water or oil to be used in cooked dishes or dressings)
  • Overripe bananas, peeled (great for smoothies and banana bread)


  • Apples
  • Citrus fruits
  • Grapes
  • Plums
  • Pomegranates

nuts (1)


These items do very well in the freezer.  Because of their high fat content they would go rancid sooner if you only stored them at room temperature.  The freezer helps preserve them for months longer than the pantry.

  • Nuts (also nut flours are great in the freezer)
  • Seeds
  • Flours (high in oil content like wheat flour)

muffins (1)


  • Biscuits
  • Brownies
  • Cakes (unfrosted)
  • Croutons
  • Muffins
  • Cookies
  • Quick breads (like banana bread)
  • Fruit cake
  • Doughnuts (unglazed)
  • Pie (fruit, meat, nut, sweet potato, and pumpkin are all okay.  DO NOT freeze pies with meringue on top)
  • Pizza – reheat at 400 degrees
  • Yeast breads

pastry shell (1)


  • Pizza dough – uncooked
  • Pie shells – blind baked (ready to fill)
  • Cookie dough -individually freeze then place in zipper bag
  • Cake Batter
  • Yeast dough


  • Pesto sauce
  • Wine (freeze in ice cube trays for use in sauces)

Tips to make dinnertime easy with COOKED FOODS THAT FREEZE WELL

(Make sure to cool completely in the fridge before freezing.)

  • Baked Breads (cooled completely before wrapping).  We load up on clearance breads from our grocery store.  They have a rack at the back of the store where all the breads are up to 75% off.  These are great time savers for Sunday afternoon meals when you are so hungry when you get home.  Also, bread helps a meal stretch to serve so many more people.  Frozen loaves reheated in the oven are perfect for when you’re hosting surprise dinner guests!
  • Casseroles (like this one!) (Unless otherwise noted in recipe, thaw overnight in fridge, bake covered at 350 for one hour or until bubbly.)
  • Chicken and turkey – deboned and chopped, freeze in 1 cup portions for easy thawing and recipe use
  • Ground beef – freeze in 1 cup portions for easy thawing and recipe use
  • Pasta, undercooked – do not rinse – do not add sauce
  • Tomato based pasta sauce
  • Here’s a great resource on how to prep your fresh meat and veggies for freezer storage.

See this great chart here for food storage times.

gelatin (1)


  • Cooked egg whites
  • Cream based soups and sauces
  • Cucumber
  • Desserts with meringue
  • Fried foods (become soggy)
  • Frostings/icing that include raw egg whites
  • Fully cooked pasta (can be frozen in dishes if undercooked)
  • Fully cooked rice
  • Gelatin
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Lettuce
  • Mayonnaise and mayo-based salads (tuna salad, egg salad)
  • Sour cream

You can learn more about how to prepare foods for freezing and some great tips here on Freezer Cooking 101.  What foods would you add to this list?

Presentation of a series of ice cubes with strawberries

Presentation of a series of ice cubes with strawberries

The Best Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Posted at 1:14 PM on May 24, 2015 by I am THAT Lady: Lauren

May 24th, 2015

  One of my favorite summer treats - is a homemade Strawberry Rhubarb Pie.  I was so worried that I wouldn't be able to eat it anymore - so I adapted my recipe to make it Gluten-Free.  You can make this with a regular pie crust as well, but if
3 Secrets to an Affordable Family Vacation

Posted at 8:02 AM on May 22, 2015 by I am THAT Lady: Lauren

May 22nd, 2015

Our favorite place to vacation is Topsail Island, NC.  We always book our rental home through HomeAway and VRBO. This post is brought to you by HomeAway, to help you save on vacations too!

Everyone has different ways to vacation. Some like to go

24 best things to buy at the dollar store

Posted at 8:02 AM on May 20, 2015 by I am THAT Lady: Lauren

May 20th, 2015
There are two ways of thinking about the dollar store - either it is inexpensive junk or bargains galore. Depending on the type of shopper you are, you may avoid it because you think everything in there is poorly made or miniature size. Or you ma