Saturday, May 1, 2010

Grocery Shopping Tips::"Good" Prices

edit: A lovely spreadsheet screen shot has been formatted for your shopping convenience. 
Check it out!!

I've been getting an increasing number of questions on "How Do I Do It?"
How do I shop so frugally? 
Eat so (health)fully? 
Plan meals that inspire and entice? 

I am one of the "lucky ones" I guess you could say. 
These budget conscious ways of me actually come naturally.
"Wait, what's that you say?"
Yes, saving money, bargain hunting, price comparing, unit pricing...
all of those tactics have become such an integral part of my life that I don't even realize it's "abnormal."

I give me parents [almost] all the credit for this. 
They trained me.

They taught me.
They were an example to me.

Now, granted, I could have thrown their advice in the garbage can.
But I didn't. 
I took it. 
and I ran with it.
And I'm still running. 
Hey! I guess I'm a marathoner after all! 

But seriously, I can't imagine NOT getting the lowest price. 
It just goes against everything everything I am.

This is why I never thought to give pointers.
But I'm so glad some of you thought to ask.
I would love to share. 

To get my ideas down on "paper."
I plan to do periodic posts on my shopping trips.

What I bought.
How much I paid for it.
What "good prices" are.
What meals I planned around those items. 

The third item in that list is, I believe, one of the hardest to learn. 
And yet, even when you have a good grasp of it, it's a constant process of updating prices. 
Thanks to economics, prices go up.
prices go down. 
So you've got to stay on top of your game

I would say it took me close to a year to have a full range of price comparisons in my head or on paper. 
(Yes, there were spreadsheets.)
I called my mom on almost every shopping trip. 
Because you can't know you're getting a good deal unless you know what a good deal is. 
You can't assume that because it's from Sam's Club or a Meijer sale or even Aldi that the price you're paying is a bargain. 

I hate to break it to you. :)

So I think I will begin here. 
"What are 'good' prices?"
(This list will be edited and updated as needed.) 

  • Milk (gallon)   
    • $1.99 
    • (or less! I prefer $1.75)
  • Eggs (dozen)   
    • $0.99 
    • (or less than $0.85. I stock up if they're $0.75 or less)
  • Yogurt
    • $0.05/ounce*
    • (typically, buying a 32oz container is cheaper than individual cups, but not always.)
    • Use small tupperware (or other brand) containers to take individual sizes in a packed lunch.
  • Margarine 
    • $0.50/pound (4 sticks)
  • Butter 
    • $1.99/pound (4 sticks)
    • I stock up if it's cheaper than $1.89 per pound. Just stick the boxes in the freezer! hey'll keep for months!
  • Cereal 
    • ~$1.99 (or less) per pound (16oz.)
  • Cheese 
    • $1.99 or less per pound 
    • I often buy my cheese in large bricks then slice into manageable/usable portions. Wrap individually in plastic wrap, store in a zippered storage bag and freeze for months. Just remove the cheese to the fridge to defrost for at least 6 hours. 
  • Apples
    • $0.99 or less per pound 
    • Our local farm market sells 5lb bags for $2.99 meaning just $0.60/lb
    • Store apples in the "crisper" drawer of your fridge and they should keep for weeks.
  • Bananas
    • $0.33 or less per pound 
    • Store bananas on the countertop, separating them to slow down the ripening process.
    • When bananas get brown either use them in banana bread OR peel and slice into small pieces, cover in plastic wrap, store in a zippered bag and freeze. Use these frozen bananas in smoothies or defrost to use in banana bread another time! 
    • Oftentimes, Meijer will sell over-ripe bananas for $0.29 or even $0.19/pound. Stock up! and use the freezing method!
  • Bread 
    • $1.00 or less per loaf
    • Look for sales on whole wheat or whole grain loaves! They do get this low! 
    • Then go ahead and stock up, place loaf in a plastic bag, tie shut and freeze for a few months. 
    • Just last week, I found whole wheat loaves (regularly $1.89) for $0.25 per loaf!--that's a big rarity, but keep your eyes open. 
    • OR make your own bread! I have plenty of delicious (manageable) recipes here!
  • Canned goods 
    • $0.49/15oz can (Aldi has THE lowest priced canned goods I've ever found.) 
  • Vegetable or canola oil 
    • $1.99 (or less) per 48oz bottle  

*To figure out price per ounce divide the total cost by the total ounces
In my yogurt example, I divided $1.59 by 32oz. 

1 comment:

  1. Great advice Melanie! I'm mentioning your blog this Tuesday on mine. :)