Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Saving at the Grocery

 Good morning.  It is a blustery cool and cloudy day here.  Sure fills like fall.

I know we have talked about saving at the grocery before, and come up with all kinds of ways to save money while stocking our pantries.  I am going to post some reminders - as I think a lot of people are truly getting worried about things again - and looking for the best ways to stock up on little money.

GARDEN - we all know that helps.  Those that can, have a jump up on saving.  
FARM STANDS - if we can't garden - we can often get deals at farm markets or straight from the farms.  It is good to go at the end of the day, as you MAY get some good deals.  They usually don't  want to take things back home - so sell cheaper.
ORCHARDS - take advantage of getting fresh from the orchards.  Apples, pumpkins, squash, grapes, pears, peaches, etc.  Get what you can.  
Buying local is great for you, the farmer and the community.

Shop the SALES - most items regularly go on sale at 6 - 9 week intervals.  Keep an eye open for those specials and always stock up.  IF you can utilize a coupon with a sale - all the better.

CLEARANCE - is our friend!!!!  Keep an eye open for marked down meats and all forms of other clearance at the grocery.  Just because things are on clearance (other than meat) doesn't mean they are close to 'best' by date.  I recently found pasta on clearance for .49/lb. dated 2023!  ALWAYS  look for markdowns.  Many stores have a produce clearance section - that is great for getting items to freeze and can for pennies.

SKIP convenience foods.  They are expensive!!!!!  Make your own.  By keeping basic items in the pantry, you can make about anything and save.

COOK from SCRATCH - not only does the food taste better - but it is a great use of simple ingredients.  It is healthier than pre-packaged and saves from convenience food.

USE LESS - meat is an ingredient - not necessarily a major course.  Smaller portions and eating slower - aids in feeling full quicker.  
SOUPS/CASSEROLES - stretches meat and veggies greatly - add a grain or pasta to stretch it out.  Pasta and rice are GREAT extenders.  You can use much less meat and add more extenders and veggies.  Remember carbs are needed in your diet just as protein is.

SHOP BULK - if you have a way to store items.  Many times you get a much greater price buying in bulk.  IF you can't reasonably use all the product - go in with another person and spit the price and product.  Win-win!

Add BREAD - BISCUITS - CRACKERS to a meal.  It is filling and gets you full quicker.  Bread can often be found for pennies on discount - freeze it until needed or bake your own.  Bread can be used in many ways - bread pudding, grilling, garlic toast, French toast, toast, mini pizzas, dried and made into croutons or dressing/stuffing mix......  Biscuits cost virtually nothing to make and they are just so easy.  Crackers are great with soups and stews and chilis.  
Nothing like a hot bowl of soup and a sandwich or warm buttered biscuit.

BASICS  - you need to keep basics that can be used in many, many ways!  Canned beans, dried beans, rice, pasta, flour, sugar, honey, peanut butter and a variety of veggies.  MEAT IS NOT needed for every meal!!!!!  Have some meatless meals to stretch budget.

FROZEN - look for frozen veggies or fruit IF you have the room.  Frozen is picked and generally flash frozen immediately.  Therefore they are just fresher tasting than professionally canned.

STOCK UP - I keep seeing people ask on FB "what should I stock?".  You stock what YOU USE!  ALWAYS.  Figure what you use a week - times that per month and then times that per 52 weeks (or time frame you want) - that is what you STOCK.  For every item you have on hand - the less you have to worry about going out.
If you know how to glean from fields or nature - do so.  If you are in need and have an abundance of something else - think about bartering.

Just remember - if you get a "deal" and then don't use it or waste - it was NOT a deal!!!!!!!  Be mindful and use what you have.
IF you need to - keep an inventory - don't be wasteful.
ROTATE - and use the oldest product first.
Get CREATIVE with your pantry.
And remember - ANYTHING can be a meal - if it fills you up and you are satisfied - that is ALL that matters.

REMEMBER there are NO EXPIRATIONS DATES!!!!!!  I truly can't reiterate that enough.  The dates  are "best if used by" meaning peak of taste.  Or "sell by: which is strictly for store use.
Products are good for months and often times years past 'best' dates.  The stuff in the can has NO IDEA what the date is!!!!!  LOL
If you ever get hungry  - you will be glad you didn't waste food and throw it out.

I am a firm believer that every item I get ahead and I get cheaply or grow IS money in the bank!  Money that can be used for other things.

Hope these reminders help you get organized and hope they save you a little money and frustration in the future.

The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but every one who is hasty comes only to want.
Proverbs 21:5


  1. Always a great reminder. I'll add a couple of others --

    1. Don't be afraid to try a different store. Just because it's the one you've always shopped at doesn't mean it has the best prices. I shopped at Dominick's (a Chicago-area chain) for years, and then it was sold to Mariano's -- and I loved LOVED Mariano's. But when it was sold to Kroger, their prices seemed to skyrocket. So I started checking out other stores and have found significantly better prices. I've even started getting certain staples at Aldi and actually prefer some of their store brands.

    2. Don't limit yourself to shopping at a single store. If I need to stock up on canned goods, I'll shop Meijer sales. But my local smaller grocer has better cuts of meat, and better prices -- and they source locally. So, I'll get my meats there and stock up when they have a "freezer" or other holiday special, where they reduce prices for larger packages of meat (i.e., burgers, dogs, and their full line of homemade sausages for Labor Day). And, lately, Aldi has been getting my business for their dairy case and baking supplies. Eggs always seem to be in the $0.99/dozen, and Greek yogurt (their brand) $0.12-0.15 less than the name brand at another store and equally as good IMHO.

    3. Don't be afraid to try out store brands, as they're often less expensive. Try a box or can, and if you find the quality acceptable, stock more of that product in your pantry. For vegetables used in casseroles, does uniform size really, really matter?

    4. Don't automatically pass on meats on clearance. If the "sell by" date is today or tomorrow, buy it and get it into the freezer and you'll have something to fall back on.

    5. For meats, I've been using a FoodSaver to vacuum pack my meats in serving size portions that meet my needs, and some packages that are a year old are as good as if they were purchased yesterday. When you're a single- or two-person household, it makes buying Family Packs feasible and cost-effective.

    Hope this helps!

    Lori K

      I so agree. I have done all of these too. I am not to proud to shop around for the best deals. I get a lot of store brands - if you read the labels many are even from the same plants as name brand (just a different label). Meat on clearance - if it is affordable I get it. Vacuum sealer here as well.

      I notice that at times many meats even on clearance are more than I would ever think of spending. That however, is usually steak or roasts and that hardly ever gets purchased by me.

      I read the ads and shop where the deals are. I have even gotten super deals on canned veggie at Menards! (.33 can)
      Stock up when and where the deals are. No place is off limits!

      Thank you for great advice!

    2. If you seal meat in a Food Saver Bag and freeze it, the length of time you can keep the meat frozen is doubled. With our current supply issues, this is important information. Bacon is already vacuum sealed. I have used bacon that has a best buy date which is 2 years old. It hasn't changed the quality and taste of the bacon one bit.

  2. I just did a grocery run this morning. I got 3 packs of chicken quarters marked down to $0.24 per pound! And a small brisket 30% off! We'll smoke that up-yum :-)

    Last week I scored butter for $1.88/pound. I bought 8 so we're good for many months! I also scored ground turkey BOGO and bought 10#.

    My freezer is already stuffed so I'm not sure where the new buys are going but I bought 'em anyway ;-)

    1. You go girl! .24/lb. is amazing! Sure can be used in many ways. Great deal on brisket - they are so expensive.
      I have enough butter for many months as well.
      This goods deals don't always happen - and money saved is money you don't have to earn again!!!!!

  3. I love this blog and all the great advice from you Cheryl and your commentators.
    Thank you all.
    I grew up in a frugal household in England and it was second nature to make the most of money available and make do and mend. But I think we all need a little reminder and there is always the odd thing that you think, oh yes, I forgotten about that.
    At the start of this pandemic I really missed eating out once a week or so, or picking up a breakfast. I found cooking our meals all the time to be time consuming and did not look forward to cooking. But now I seem to breeze through it and am eager for new recipes and to try something differnt. Added to that I enjoy what I cook and I know its healthy and nutritious. Restaurant food can be a let down I have found.
    Best wishes to all.
    Pam in Texas.x

    1. Yes indeed. I think that probably happened to a lot of people. Now cooking at home in mainstay again. I still haven't eaten from a restaurant or fast food - not since last October. It just doesn't appeal to me.
      So much cheaper and healthier at home - I agree.
      Thanks for the compliments for everyone!

  4. As I read these posts, I so wish our prices would come down. I did get bread for $2 a loaf this week, and 900 grams of pasta for 88 cents a bag - both really good deals. Our meat prices are high so while we eat it several times a week, the portions are definitely small.

    Take care, stay well!

    1. I wish you could get some of the prices we get here as well. It just doesn't seem right. We are again getting so many meat deals - especially ground beef - it is almost insanely cheap again. Not sure why.
      Good luck!

  5. Thanks for the reminders!
    Such good advice.
    I'm looking forward to cooler weather so I can start cooking soups and stews and chili. It is easier to bulk up the veggies and use less meat. I picked the last of my blue lake beans Sunday, but it was more than my family usually eats, so after three days they were glad to finish them off. ;) But at least I didn't waste them. My garden is kaput now and I'm sad about the tomatoes.
    Hope you have a good week.

    1. You know it is funny - you got tired of them. Had you had nothing else, that would have been wonderful for 5 days! Perspective.
      I am sorry the gardens are ending too. I am still getting tomatoes, but that won't last long.
      Love soups and stews - so hearty and filling.

  6. Great advice. I really miss all of the clearance like there was before Covid. Glad I was stocked up before. I have seen so many sales and then I go in and they are out. I get rainchecks but some items are still hard to get.

    1. Sorry you are still having trouble getting items. That is a shame. It seems to haven't 'back to' decent here for now. Hope it catches up your way soon.
      Thank you!

  7. Yippee!!!! I was able to pick several gallons of tomatoes (I'm really just getting to pick once/weekly this summer). I bought onions/garlic and am making a giant pot of my ratatouille. I have sufficient zucchini and eggplant from the garden. I expect 7-8 quarts for the freezer once it's done. I'm just 3 hours in so I've got another 2 hours or so before it starts to cool. I love this recipe:

    Not sure how I'm going to get his in the freezer but I'll be darned if I will waste a single tomato in this sparse garden output year!

    Squirrels got another 3 spaghetti squash-I will get NONE this year. And the bugger is now pecking away at a butternut too. First year in all the years they've gone after my garden :-(

    1. YAY - happy for you. That will sure be tasty on a cold winter evening. Glad you have all the ingredients. Just can't have too many tomato products.
      Seriously, try some chicken wire or something. That is such a shame. Maybe leave them some corn or peanuts far away from squash! ?!
      Bummer on one and good on another.

  8. I also use a food saver as a means of keeping meat nice and fresh when I bought said goods on sale. It is not only good for keeping meat longer in the freezer, but also baked goods, dried food like beans and rice as well.

    My garden helps keep my grocery bills down during the summer and harvest season as well as gives me frozen produce as well.

    God bless.

    1. Food savers are really wonderful. Removing the air around our food, sure does help it last longer. Great invention!
      So happy you have the opportunity to garden and preserve - such a blessing.

  9. I certainly need a food saver! Those are all great ideas.

    1. They are fantastic. Reoval of air around food makes it last so much longer. You can find them on sale at times, and they aren't to expensive. Worth the price you pay for sure.

  10. Check your area for discount grocery stores. We have two that have fantastic deals. They both get Pepperidge Farm bread twice a week and it is $1 a package. One has a 5 pound bag of frozen meat sauce from a famous restaurant for $1 a bag right now. Last week we picked up 6 boxes for Ghirardelli brownie mix for .75 each. The week before we got a 3 pound bag of breaded fish fillets for 3.99 and this week they have 6 pounds of Hillshire Farms sausages for $6. I have found that Googling 'discount grocery store' will often find them in your area. They are often in old buildings and not in the best areas of town but both of ours are clean and run by great families that we like to support.

  11. Such a great blog post, Cheryl. Stretching meat with crackers and fillers is a great way to have more servings to save money. And making an inventory and using up what you have is important too.

    1. I often add crushed crackers or dry bread to extend meat. I like using oats as well. Heck we used to stretch eggs when we camped by adding crushed crackers - no one could tell (scrambled).
      Got to know what you got!

  12. Cheryl, I always have to laugh when I hear someone refer to "expired food." Food doesn't expire! Fresh products, such as meat, dairy and produce, will eventually spoil, but canned and packaged foods remain good for years and years. Even "best by" may not refer to diminished quality, but the date after which the manufacturer will not take responsibility for the product. I've always thought those dates are the work of lawyers!

    It also pays to know how to tell when food is spoiled. Milk and meats will smell. Baked goods, sour cream, cottage cheese, etc., will mold or turn pink, or both. Products with a high fat content, such as oils, chips, mayo, etc., get rancid and smell. When food spoils, it tells you! If it looks good and smells good, I'd bet it's still good!

    1. EXACTLY - I preach and preach it. Still people talk about "expired food". I keep saying the same thing.
      Manufacturers and stores are the ones who put those dates on things - strategy to get you to buy more!!!!
      Has nothing to do with safety.
      Yes, you will know if something is spoiled!!!!

      Some days I think people have more cents than sense! LOL

  13. Yup, the expiration dates are most likely the work of lawyers. Use your nose as mikemax says. Common sense.

    1. Common sense - not all that common any more!!!!! LOL