Shopping by the aisle can really work. You need to know what to look for and you need to know your prices. I tend to buy the most items in the perimeter of the store. I do get some canned goods and of course pet supplies in the center of the store. Also get some baking supplies.
You can really save a lot if you just follow a few simple rules!
- Buy what is in season for the best price
- Check if your store has a clearance area for produce - usually have bags of goodies for .99
- Check bags of produce to make sure there is no bad item in the bag - that can make the rest of the bag go off quickly
- Weigh prebagged produce (apples, oranges, etc.) Not all 5 lb. bags weigh 5 lbs.!!!!!! Some weigh more!
- Don't buy chopped lettuces or cut up veggies or fruit - it will always cost more than just buying it whole and cutting up yourself
- When you get home - DRY off any wet produce before storing.
MEAT & SEAFOOD
Most expensive thing you can buy today at the store. So, plan your meals to use much less or to have meatless nights once in a while.
- Never pay full price for meat. Always get it when it is on sale!!!!!! Stock up and freeze.
- Most times it is more economical to buy whole instead of cut up. Whole chickens, whole loins, larger beef cuts, etc. Cut it up yourself and freeze in meal size packages
- Look for inexpensive cuts of meat that you can marinate or slow cook to make tender
- Don't buy the pre-marinated, seasoned or stuffed meat. It always costs more.
- Think about other sources of protein - canned tuna, salmon, beans, etc.
Buy generic when possible. Most brands are canned in the same factories and just labeled differently. If you find a great deal on something your family uses and likes - stock up!!!! Remember "best by" dates are pretty much just suggestions. Things are good for much, much longer.
BREADS, CEREAL, PASTA
- Day old breads are great for toast, crumbs, making croutons and stuffing
- Plain pasta and rice are a lot more economical than the pre-seasoned mixes. You can make up your own flavor combination.
- Bigger boxes of cereal are a lot more economical than buying smaller boxes - look for those 'bags' of cereal, they are a different brand, but much cheaper sans box! Think about buying hot cereal in bulk (oats) - not those indiv. packets. Make up your own blends.
- Frozen fruits and veggies are a perfect way to get some items that are out of season
- Buy plain veggies - no sauces. That causes them to cost more and adds calories. Make your own sauce or gravy or seasoning.
- Skip buying frozen pancakes, waffles, biscuits, French toast - etc. Make your own for pennies and then bag them up and freeze for quick breakfasts and meals.
- Buy a block of cheese and shred your own. It isn't necessarily cheaper - but it sure does melt better. Pre-shredded cheese has an anti-clumping agent added - so not just plain cheese. Shred you own and bag up. I freeze shredded cheese for cooking and baking.
- Check for markdowns on milk or cream - if it is getting close to "best by" date it may be marked down. You can drink now or you can freeze for later. I often keep milk fresh and flavorful for more than a couple weeks past the date. (store at the back and bottom of frig - it is colder).
- Cottage cheese, sour cream or other container items - store upside down in the frig. That removes the air that causes spoilage and makes it last longer.
I know most of these are common sense, but maybe some might be new to someone. Be conscious of everything you buy. Look for those sales and for clearance that your family uses. If you have the ability - use digital coupons for certain stores. There are often VERY GOOD deals using those digital coupons.
Make a list - but don't pass a deal that your family can use. It may not be on the list - but it may save a lot down the road.
Buy what you eat and eat what you buy!!!!!!!
Excellent tip on shredding your own cheese and then freezing it. We no longer buy pre-shredded cheese because of the wood pulp in it. I need to shred potatoes for hash browns and freeze them. Trader Joe's used to have frozen hash browns that had no extra oils (nasty) and they sure were convenient.ReplyDelete
The cheese you shred just tastes better and it actually melts!Delete
I do buy hash browns frozen once in a while - I use for a casserole I make (not often).
That is another thing that makes good sense to shred yourself!
Pre-shredded cheese is now rare in my house, but I never thought of potatoes. Would they need to be tossed in a little lemon juice or something to prevent browning/graying in the freezer? I do toss my freshly shredded cheese (leftovers) in a very small amount of corn starch to prevent it globbing together.Delete
Most shredded cheese now has potato starch as an anti-caking agent and it has been that way for at least ten years. Our daughter is allergic to potatoes so when they made the switch this became a real problem. Not at home but away from home and especially in restaurants.Delete
I'll add, if you're cooking for one or two, buy what you know you'll need/use, unless you're freezing it. The stores pre-bag produce, typically in 1-2 lb. bags, that make it easy to grab and go. If you don't want that much, get a separate bag and take only as much as you want. I"m not talking about a mesh or sealed bag, but the loose produce in open packaging, like bags of grapes, apples, or brussels sprouts. I like brussels sprouts every now and then, but there's no way I'll go thru 3 lbs. of the fresh ones.ReplyDelete
The same goes for meats. If you have a fresh meat counter, you can request 1/2# or 1/4# of bulk italian sausage, 2 brats, 1 chicken breast. If you do by the family pack, separate and freeze them into the portion sizes that you'll use most often. For me, I freeze in 1/2# packages of ground beef, single chicken breasts, and I cut roasts and tenderloins in 2-3 before freezing.
At the deli, you do not need to buy lunchmeat by the pound. I don't do a lot of sandwiches, but when I do, I like club sandwiches. I'll sometimes get 1/4# of ham and 1/4# of turkey. And for deli salads, you don't have to fill the container -- it is OK to ask for a single scoop or single serving, rather than buying by the pound, half pound, or container size.
I'm not someone who can eat the same thing for 3 days straight. I regularly cut a recipe for 4 in half, and have 1 portion for dinner and the other for lunch (or repurposed for lunch). If I'm having guests and need to make a full recipe, all I need to do is pull out 2 packages, rather than one.
Being just one here - I usually buy a head/bunch of Romaine lettuce, or a fresh bunch of radishes or carrots, bulk zucchini or squash - because I get smaller quantities than buying bagged/prepackaged. I may buy chopped lettuce - but only if it is on clearance.
Great tips on the deli. I haven't bought anything from the deli in ages - never thought about that.
Yep, I buy meat and repackage to meal size portions all the time. Having company - no problem, just thaw more than one.
I can eat things a couple days or maybe re-invent it. But I have containers to put meals or food in freezer for the future.
Thank you for the tips, Lori. I'm there now. One thing I've started doing is browning up ground beef before separating and freezing, as flat freezer bags take up less space and then I can make meals in minutes, right from the freezer. --EliseDelete
I love reading about the clearance items...our Publix has no such thing. No meats or veggies or fruits marked down. boohoo. Wish we had a Kroger, but we do not. I also shop mostly at Aldi and occasionally stock up at Costco.ReplyDelete
NO clearance???? Oh my goodness - I can't imagine. I live for clearance! LOL!!! I can find so many great deals.Delete
I wonder what they do with things that are getting close to date? Do they just throw it out? That would be so wasteful.
So many people around here - survive and survive well, because of clearance. Our Aldi even has clearance once in a while!
My sister is a single Mom who owns a landscaping business. Business has been terrible since that is something people can cut out. So, she went to the food bank and most of what she gets if from Publix. Her friend who works there said they have a wall of freezers in the back for donation food. That made me feel so much better about them not having clearance.Delete
I've made a real point of only buying what I truly think I'll be interested in using. Spent a good number of meals eating things I didn't much care for because I thought they'd be good for storage.ReplyDelete
We don't seem to have "reduced" or "clearance" sections here either. Have felt quite envious of your shopping opportunities! Plus, we only have one grocery here in town, so it's an expense to travel to another town to try another shop.
Have to do it sometimes, because our one shop doesn't have everything I want (right now, Purina (Friskies) cat food). What has happened to Purina? Why is it still so hard to find?
It seems to be all brands of pet food in my area, and we're only 2 hours from a big Purina plant. When we adopted a stray dog not quite 4 months ago, we discovered she has a sensitive stomach; she doesn't do well switching dog food on her, but stores (here) never have consistent supply. --EliseDelete
It is amazing to me that stores don't have clearance. I guess small towns are different.Delete
I am finally starting to see more and more cat food on the shelves around here. It was hit and miss for ages - dry and wet. Now there is a lot more to choose from. I have heard it was the "can" thing - but I am not buying that. Dry food was hard to find, and all kinds of other stuff comes in cans.
Good morning! I was greeted on the side steps this morning by a fat and happy robin. Maybe spring isn't too far off? We had snow showers again on Monday, but it's melting off more quickly. All that said...ReplyDelete
Great tips! I've been shopping that way for years, saving (on average) 40% each grocery trip. Now that it's just two to feed, I also appreciate Lori's tips. I do buy value/family packs and split them up for our freezer and to share with our son. In turn, he picks up items from his neck of the woods.
For AZ shoppers, Safeway has a digital coupon for Lucerne large eggs at $3.99 doz., limit of 2, while supplies last. Eggs are about $7 per dozen here now, so it's a good deal. Digital coupon for Lucerne cheese, too, at $1.27 ea. for 6-8 oz. shredded sliced or chunk cheese, first 3. Also, no coupon needed, fresh blueberries, raspberries or blackberries are buy one (6 oz.) container, get 2 free; limit of 2 offers. That's $3.99 for each 3. Friday through Sunday Fresh strawberries will be (1 lb. containers) 2/$5, limit of 4. That's about it for what I consider good deals. For those prices, I might make homemade jam again. Mixed berry is yummy!
Basha's (AZ) has a few good specials this week. None that I need, but for readers in AZ, beef Tri-tip and top sirloin steaks are $3.97 lb.; over the weekend, ground chuck will be $2.77 lb. There's a digital coupon for fresh asparagus at 99 cents per pound for the first 4 lbs., broccoli and cauliflower are 88 cents per pound (no coupon needed), as well as Roma or large tomatoes and fresh jalapenos; no limit. 2/$1 on radishes, green onion and cilantro. 69 cents each for large avocados.Delete
I actually noticed last time in the store (last week) that eggs have come down a little here. I think they were 3.29 doz. and multi-packs were even better. Gasoline is coming down a little again, as well.Delete
What great deals that Basha place has. Nice prices of produce!
Good deals on that fruit as well. Time to take advantage!
I just got back from Safeway. THEN read the blog.Delete
I went back and rechecked the ad. I missed the eggs. Boo. May have to swing back later in the week.
My new glasses arrive in about 2 weeks. Hope that helps. Sigh!
After listening to the news, I chosen to refer to this gaffe as an "Awareness Gap. ;-)Delete
"Awareness Gap"... I love it! :-)Delete
I already had a dozen eggs on hand, but as we don't know when BIL will be back again this month, and he has 3 fried egg whites with toast every morning, I figured I'd best get more. The good news is he no longer tosses the yolks in the trash when he's here; I have him save them so I can freeze them/use them in recipes. The other good news is he gave us two 25 lb. bags of flour, and will be bringing another two bags (100 lbs. of flour in total!!!), so with all the egg yolks, I can make a lot of Challah or Brioche bread. LOL!
I like that "awareness gap" - is that the same as a senior moment??? LOLDelete
Elise you can't have too many eggs in my opinion. I used to not like the yolk when I was a kid - unless scrambled. Now I eat it ALL!!!!!
Great on the flour - what a huge gift. Smart thinking on uses for the yolks.
I am amazed at the complaining about prices and yet the cart is full of convenience foods, individual packaged foods and gallons of beverages such as tea that can be made for cheap at home. I bought a box of 48 gallon size tea bags for 5.98 this week. That is 48 gallons of tea for 12 cents a gallon plus any sweetener you might add. And don't get me started on those bag salad kits! When one is willing there is a way to eat for less!ReplyDelete
Lana, I agree, but am convinced many people, especially the younger ones, just don't know how to make their own convenience foods and drinks. They've never made iced tea from tea bags, or lemonade from lemons & sugar, etc. Salad has always come from a bag. One niece spent a chunk of change for enough finely chopped, pre-bagged salad to feed 40+ people for the Celebration of Life meal. It's what she grew up with. I've heard some folks complain they "don't have the time", without factoring in the cost: 15 minutes = dollars' worth of savings! --EliseDelete
I also don't think they know how to multitask in the kitchen. Making tea does not take any time at all if it is done while cooking a meal! We are getting a new plant in our county that will only be producing Milos tea! I also saw on a YouTube video that 'oh well we have to buy preshredded lettuce because the store is out of romaine this week'.. Ahem, that lettuce in those bags is iceberg which can actually be cut in shreds,Delete
I went to the store this morning. Stuck to my list. Didn't find any markdowns-I went at 940 instead of 0700. Eggs were up $1 from 3w ago (now $3.98). My farm egg lady just moved to $3/d in November :-)ReplyDelete
People are always talking about Walmart. So just for grins, I went to do "online shopping" on their website. Every single thing I bought was cheaper at our employee owned store. It is a chain in the NorthWest. I'll help those folks retire more comfortably with my dollars rather than pay more AND support the Walton heirs.
Thank you for helping the local grocer!!!!!!!! Makes my heart happy. I am not a WM fan at all. I find much better prices at Kroger and Aldi. I know they are chains too - not a lot of small grocers around me. I sure help them when I can.Delete
Your egg prices are still better than a lot of people are saying.
Great post. Went to store today as soda was on sale, and also cheese.ReplyDelete
I always love a good cheese sale. I am a cheese freak! Put cheese on about anything I would at least try it. If by soda you mean carbonated beverages - man oh man have they gone up in price around here. McD is still a $1 for a drink - but all other pop has gone way up!Delete
I started shredding my own cheese awhile ago, however every once in a while a really good sale hits on pre-shredded cheese and I quickly snap it up and put some in the freezer. Everything tastes better with cheese.ReplyDelete
Great shopping tips.
I have been guilty as well - but prefer home shredded. YES, everything is better with cheese!!Delete
We went to Kroger last week and picked up several bags of potatoes, apples, and clementines for 99 cents a rack on the reduced produce cart. I was thrilled.ReplyDelete
YAY - good for you. They usually have a lot of goodies on the produce clearance. Glad you got to take advantage.Delete
I have never bought ready grated cheese in my life, why would I? It's horrifically expensive stuff and I wouldn't be sure of the quality.ReplyDelete
Having said that I wouldn't buy prepared fruit or vegetables either unless they were practically giving it away, why would I pay extra for the vitamin content to be reduced?
Just be savvy and flexible whilst shopping, if something is too expensive change your plans!
I understand - but many people in our area do buy all the stuff. Shredded and chunks of cheese cost pretty much the same here.Delete
Fruit is very expensive pre-cut. I understand not wanting a huge amount if a person is alone - but buy it and freeze it.
I agree - common sense is the key.
Having never heard of hash brown casserole but loving hash browns I googled it, sounds delicious but I don't think my waistline would take it!ReplyDelete
Oh it is good! Some people call it 'funeral potatoes'. It is rich and cheesy and yummy. I maybe make it once a year - but it sure is good.Delete
I buy all salads chopped because I will not eat them if I have to stand and chop or prepare. I don't by other produce chopped because I can sit in the recliner with a baking sheet on my lap to prepare them. I do buy lettuces that are triple washed and chop/break those myself.ReplyDelete
Once the seal on cottage cheese, yogurt, etc is broke when opened, the contents will leak out! It is a mess.
Until I filled my freezer with meat, I bought $7 worth of bread and received a product free. These were the bread store rules. I did this every visit, like every two months. Now, I have my freezer filled with cheaply bought meat.
You do what is good for you - that is fine. I would never believe the 'triple washed' thing. Advertising can say anything. I would still have to clean mine!Delete
I have always stored opened cottage and sour cream upside down in the frig. Have never once had a leak. Just make sure the lid is clamped on and it works for me.
Nothing better than having all that meat!!!!!
I think we all have bought things for convenience before. It happens. We all change our shopping over the years as well. Hopefully we change because we learn new ways. You are doing great!ReplyDelete
I agree - people can learn anything. They just don't want to change some things. They like things easy. I bet my mom would have liked easy back in the day too - but she worked hard for everything.
I don't worry too much about things either - since I am replacing things little by little. I know not everyone has that pleasure.