Laughing, Weeping, Living

Life happens. You laugh about it or cry about it, sometimes both.

Shopping for Deals

on June 11, 2013

I have a secret to confess: I adore shopping for groceries.

It’s kind of strange, I know. But I love everything about it. And I think I have a pretty good strategy for saving money on groceries, so I’ll share it with you.

First things first: I love getting the ads in the mail from the various stores with the weekly sales and specials. Second, I love comparing the sales from the stores and finding which place has the best price. Does Acme have cheaper sweet potatoes at regular price even though Giant Eagle is running a sale this week? Where am I going to get the cheapest milk gallons this week? I’m running out of coke products so where should I go to restock? Third, I love making a weekly menu based on the ads and any special sales and promotions. Fourth, I love finding the sale items in the store, and sometimes finding the neighboring off-brand that is even cheaper yet than the sale item. Score. I love walking the aisles and seeking out the items on my list (I never shop without a list, even if it only has a few things on it).

Fine. I also admit there are a couple things I don’t love about grocery shopping. First, when the product I’m looking for is nowhere to be found. It’s really annoying when the ad special runs out and the store has no intention of restocking. Second, I don’t like when I go looking for an ad special and the price at the store doesn’t match the ad. Annoying. Third, I don’t like when a store mysteriously organizes things in a way that makes no sense. Like today, why wasn’t the salsa at Aldi located with other cans and jars? Because they stocked it next to the chips, that’s why. It makes a little sense, I guess, but it’s not what I would expect.

My strategy for saving money on groceries is pretty simple. I’ve talked a bit about it here where I discussed stocking up  with a chest freezer. I use the stores’ weekly ads to find really good deals on items, and when there is a great price on something my family eats, I buy a ton of it and stock it in the pantry or freezer. That way, we are set on that item during the times prices are not so good. You can freeze a surprising variety of things. Milk (pour some off to allow for expansion), shredded cheese (only shredded), butter, any meat, bread, fruits and vegetables (some have to be blanched or otherwise prepped, some do not). Grains and flours keep longer in the freezer, too.

I also use the store ads to help plan weekly menus around what items are on sale. For example, if my store is having a Buy One Get One sale on roasts, we have roast or stew or shredded beef tacos that week. Or if lettuces are 99 cents per bunch, we eat a lot of salads on the side. If avocados are on sale, we make guacamole. You get the idea.

The final thing I really try to do is to be aware of what’s a good price for the items we buy the most. That way I can buy those items at the right store, or plan to stock up when they are on sale. For example, I’ve noticed my local stores sometimes run a 2 for $5.00 sale on butter in their weekly ad. So 2 for $5.00 is a pretty good price and I try to wait for that. But today we did most of our shopping at Aldi where the butter is priced at $2.39 regular price. Obviously I bought 4 pounds (freezer, baby!). Another example is Giant Eagle sells their sweet potatoes for $1.49 per pound regular price, but Acme sweet potatoes are only 99 cents regular price. I buy all our sweet potatoes at Acme.

The prices for everything keep going up every day, so it feels worth it to me to take a little extra time strategizing about grocery shopping. I get a great sense of accomplishment when I can stock the fridge and freezer for less money. Plus, then I have some moolah left over to buy fun stuff like Pop Tarts!

5 responses to “Shopping for Deals

  1. jaclynmariet says:

    These are the things that are harder about living in a small town. There’s only one grocery store. I still stock up on things when I’m in Billings, but there’s no such thing as comparison shopping or waiting for sales. You buy what you need when you are there, and you pretty much buy it all in one spot. It’s kind of a drag.

    • judy says:

      Yes, I know I’m lucky to live in a larger town where there is competition for customers. I hope your grocery store doesn’t take too much advantage of their lock on the market! Have you ever looked at buying grocery items online? I’ve never done it myself, but I have some friends who regularly buy things through Amazon, especially gourmet or special-diet type foods like gluten-free. My friends save a lot of money that way, but it does have the downside that you won’t be supporting your local businesses.

      • jaclynmariet says:

        I have never really investigated shopping online….I don’t know if I’d want to bother. Things are definitely more expensive at our local IGA, but not usually prohibitively so, particularly since I’m only shopping for me and my husband. Most people here with larger families do a lot of shopping at Costco in Billings or Bozeman. We don’t have a Costco membership, but maybe someday….I hear they have pretty good produce. That’s probably my least favorite thing about shopping locally…the produce selection is pretty limited and often not very fresh. And we don’t have much of a farmer’s market either…sad!

      • judy says:

        I would recommend a Costco membership if you like to stock up. In Billings, Costco has the lowest prices on many items compared to the other grocery stores. Jeremy and I bought milk, eggs, cheese, produce, paper products, deli meat, bread, cereal, soft drinks, and a bunch of other stuff there. Since we’ve moved around, we’ve discovered that COstco is not always super competitive depending on your city. But in Billings, they definitely are! And they do have good produce, even the onions which are usually pretty sketchy.

      • jaclynmariet says:

        Yeah, I just haven’t resigned myself to Costco yet, since there are only 2 of us to shop for! I know they sell rather large quantities and we don’t have a ton of food storage space. I’ll probably cave eventually though. Also…the Costco parking lot scares me, especially on Saturdays. I miss living in Billings and being able to run errands at off times, not just on Saturdays!

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