Couponers: We know how to shop a sale and save money. We also know how to do our research to gauge value when comparing store and name brands.
And while we love to shop Target with coupons in hand, these are items you’ll never find in our shopping carts.
1. Listerine or Crest Mouthwash
Mouthwash is one of those Top 5 items (along with toothpaste, body wash, shampoo and detergent) that couponers always get for pennies on the dollar. Target has good prices, but not great prices. The best place to buy mouthwash is actually at CVS.
See all mouthwash coupons and deals.
2. Market Pantry Cream Cheese
Market Pantry cream cheese has a 1.5-star rating. One reviewer said she “bought it twice because [she] thought the first time was just a bad batch. The consistency both times was horrible, stretchy and viscous. There’s way too much stabilizer (xanthan/guar gum) added.”
Instead, shop Philadelphia brand at Kroger or Walmart and pay less than that generic price — my stock-up price for cream cheese is $1 or less.
See all cream cheese coupons.
3. Kleenex or Puffs Facial Tissue
Target gift card promos never seem to be deeply discounted enough to create a good price on facial tissues from Kleenex or Puffs.
The Krazy Coupon Lady stock-up price list says wait for Kleenex 100 ct. boxes to drop below $0.75 per box or Puffs under $0.50. We typically see those stock-up-worthy prices at drugstores: CVS, Rite Aid or Walgreens.
See all Kleenex coupons and Puffs coupons.
4. Gift Cards
Never pay full price for gift cards! Discounted gift cards are one of the easiest ways to save. You can buy gift cards below their face value at Costco or at sites/in apps like GiftCardGranny.com or Raise.com.
Shop Costco deals.
Produce at Target is convenient, but not competitive. Walmart or Kroger stores have better pricing across the board, even after minimal Circle savings of 5-10%. And while it can be difficult to find coupons for healthy foods, they do exist.
See all produce coupons.
6. Goody or Scunci Hair Accessories
Hair accessories are actually cheapest at the Dollar store. So unless you’re finding brands like Goody and Scunci on clearance, skip these items at Target.
Shop Dollar Tree deals.
7. Market Pantry Ice Cream Cones
There are usually plenty of ice cream coupons available to print or scan from your phone. And Target has pretty competitive ice cream sales. But, ice cream cones are another matter and not for the reason you may think. It’s not a taste issue; it’s a packaging one.
Reviewers shared that cones are broken to pieces. So, the advice here is simple. If you’re shopping in store, buy the cones, then open the box before you leave the store and return immediately if they’re broken.
Sticking to name brand cones? See all Keebler coupons.
Pro-tip: Don’t toss your receipt immediately after checkout at Target. Did you know the receipt is required for any return within 24 hours of purchase? That’s because Target doesn’t receive credit card data, not even RedCard data for 24 hours.
8. Up & Up Permanent Markers
The best time of year to buy permanent markers is during the Back-to-School shopping season in July and August. That’s when we see both sales and coupons. The best place to buy Sharpies is usually Staples or Office Max. But if you need permanent markers now, don’t go generic to save money — at least not at Target.
These Up & Up permanent markers have awful, dry, leaky, exploding reviews. Yep. Exploding.
Try your luck to see if there are any Sharpie coupons available now.
9. Market Pantry Microwave Popcorn
Pop Secret popcorn is $4.99 for 12 bags every day at Target, or about $0.42 a bag. That’s actually cheaper than Market Pantry’s cost per bag, which comes out to about $0.45 per bag. And just read the reviews that claim Market Pantry Butter Popcorn or Market Pantry Extra Butter Popcorn tastes like chemicals. And that’s for the kernels that actually pop; sounds like there are many that do not. I’m sticking with name brand.
Browse active popcorn coupons.
10. Vega Protein Powder
Target isn’t the worst place to buy protein powder, but they don’t beat the cost per ounce at Costco. Compare Vega protein: $0.48/oz. at Target versus $0.41/oz. at Costco.
Check out the latest Costco deals.
11. Up & Up Plastic Storage Bags
Consistently poor reviews across the Up & Up plastic storage line warn to steer clear of it all. The bags are inclined to rip at the seams and, as one reviewer shared, ruin your Sunday night by bursting as you carry the marinating vegetables across the kitchen. The cling wrap reviews suggest that the plastic is good quality, but the serrated edge on the box is incapable of cutting it.
Go with Ziploc or Glad and wait for a sale at Target or even try a drugstore. The best place to buy Ziploc and Glad changes by the week. Check out recent coupons and deals below.
See all Ziploc coupons or Glad coupons.
12. Up & Up Sunscreen
Consistent bad reviews for the last seven years leave me shocked this sunscreen is even still on Target shelves. The Up & Up Sport Sunscreen Lotion has reviewers who said they broke out in rashes while wearing the sunscreen. And while the Up & Up Sport Sunscreen Continuous Spray protects a little better, (some reviewers said not at all) it apparently stains or bleaches your clothes.
There are plenty of coupons available for name brand sunscreen, especially during the summer months. Name brand with a coupon will cost less than the store brand anyway.
Check out all sunscreen coupons.
If you shop at a Super Target, then you know about Target’s fresh meat department. Prices are about 10% above Walmart. But my favorite place to buy meat is at my local Kroger grocery store–in my area that’s Fred Meyer. It may be Ralph’s or Fry’s near you.
See all meat coupons.
14. Up & Up Tampons
Up & Up Tampons claim they’re similar to Tampax Pearl, but reviewers across all varieties strongly disagree. Quality, comfort, effectiveness are all seriously called into question by dozens of reviewers.
Check out current tampon coupons and deals.
15. Crest or Colgate Toothpaste
Name brand, high-end toothpaste is one of the easiest items to get for free with coupons when you shop at drugstores like CVS, Walgreens or Rite Aid. Target does run coupons and promotions that leave the final price under a dollar, but if you want to get the very best deal, check out the toothpaste deals in the Krazy Coupon Lady app and make a run to your nearest drugstore.
See all toothpaste coupons.
16. Good & Gather Tortellini
With an average rating of 2 stars from 14 reviewers, this Good & Gather Four Cheese Tortellini (formally Archer Farms) is one of the worst-reviewed products on all of Target.com. Reviewers agree the cheese stays hard even after cooking and, according to one reviewer, “The taste was what I imagine a wet dog would taste like. I seriously thought I had some rancid product.” Our recommendation? Go with Barilla instead.
Check out our Barilla coupons and deals.
17. Good & Gather Coffee
Reviewers miss the Archer Farms brand, which was replaced by Good & Gather. Good & Gather (Archer Farms) coffee reviews are fairly poor overall, but no flavor ranks worse than Cinnamon Vanilla.
You can find plenty of deals on other brands of coffee at Target like Starbucks and Pete’s. Wait for a sale and get a higher quality coffee for under $5/bag.
See all coffee coupons.
The best places to score great deals on candy are typically the drugstores: CVS, Walgreens or Rite Aid. After drugstore promotions, candy can be completely free.
See our best candy coupons and deals.
19. Trojan Condoms
Drugstores are the place to get condoms. And there are a fair number of Trojan brand competitors that frequently release coupons including Skyn and Sustain brands. Aim to save 50% on name brands by shopping at Walgreens or CVS.
See all condom coupons.
20. Market Pantry Frozen Foods
Many of Market Pantry frozen foods have poor reviews, but none worse than the four cheese pizza 2.5-star rating. Reviewers are saying that the crust has changed and the taste in bland. To be honest, the price at $3.99 isn’t even that good.
See all chicken coupons.
21. Wine, Beer and Spirits
In a price comparison between Target and Walmart, our team found that most beer and wine were about a dollar or two cheaper at Walmart.
Plus, stores like Whole Foods, World Market and others offer a discount anytime you buy by the case. A case may be as few as six bottles. Ask your local grocery store if they do the same.
22. Bread — any brand
There are frequent Circle offers in the Target app to save an extra 5% on bread, but Target bread prices are so high that the after-coupon price still costs too much. Traditional supermarkets often run in-circular coupons on bread.
Many times, these may even be loss leaders, with selling prices at or below cost, intended to get you in the door.
See all bread coupons.
Nobody beats Amazon’s prices on books, and Target is no exception. Never, ever buy books at Target unless you price match Amazon. The easiest way to price match? Use the Amazon app to scan each book to reference the current selling price at Amazon. In all likelihood, that price will be lower than what you see on the Target shelf. Just request a price match to Amazon at any checkstand.