Tuesday, September 1, 2009

How to Find the Best Grocery Prices

Would you pay $0.98 per pound for potatoes if you knew you could get them for $0.35 per pound elsewhere? Would you pay $1.99 for pork chops if you knew they went on sale regularly for $0.99? How do you know when a sale is really a good sale?
As far as I can see, there is only one way to get the lowest prices on food. It is commonly referred to as a price book, but I find a chart easier to work with and fit in my purse.First, list all of the most common ingredients you buy. Here is my list, basically divided by where they are in the store:
white wheat flour
tomato paste
diced tomatoes
dried beans
tonic water
ground turkey
chicken quarter
ground beef
pork shoulder
frozen broccoli
frozen green beans
frozen strawberries
Your list will probably look different.
Next, what stores are in your area? The best way to find this out is the yellow pages. There were stores in my town I didn't know about. Most of them were high priced Mom-n-Pop type stores, but I found a small market where I get most of my produce for way less than anywhere else.
I also live a half hour away from the biggest city in Maine. I go there frequently, so I included a few stores, but certainly not all. I included a Dollar Tree with a big frozen section and a Save-A-Lot, which we don't have in our town. There is a small ethnic market across the street from the Save-A-Lot that I'm interested in checking out but haven't yet.
So I have Walmart, two in-town supermarkets, the local market with good produce, Save-A-Lot and the Dollar Tree. If you have a Sam's or BJ's membership, include these. I went into all of them and got their regular price on the items on my list. This is a time investment, but it will pay for itself quickly. This is what I found: Walmart and Save-A-Lot have the most general low prices. Walmart has a better selection, but Save-A-Lot has better meat prices. One supermarket has the best prices on cheese, dairy and ham. The other supermarket has high prices but good sales, along with an "almost expired" produce rack, where I can add variety to my produce menu I would otherwise not afford. The local market has the best price on produce and a few other things. The Dollar Tree has the best price on sausage and strawberries ($1/lb, frozen!) and a few other things.
Now, with this knowledge, I DO NOT GO TO EVERY STORE EVERY WEEK. I go to Walmart every week, because that's where I get my flour, eggs, and butter, which I seem to run out of a lot. When I go to the other stores, I go to buy several weeks worth of what they have cheapest.
I check www.mygrocerydeals.com almost every week to see if any of the stores are having worthwhile sales on my ingredients. This website is an excellent free resource that gathers the sales flyers for the supermarkets in your area.
. I also have a basic price guide for buying things that aren't in my regular menu when the mood strikes. I don't pay more that $1.50 per pound for meat or more than $1.00 per pound for produce. The exception is avocados, because you don't mess with a pregnant lady's avocado cravings.


scrappy quilter said...

What a great way to shop. I watch the sale prices as well although I don't use a chart or price book. Great job!!

Amanda from Faith, Food and Family said...

Just found your site! Really have enjoyed what I read. Will have to come back! I'm always wanting to know how to stretch money farther!
God bless,

Rachel said...

Emily, I faced this question this morning. I walked down to the store for the newspaper. Our grocery sales start on Wednesday. Winn_Dixie has wonderful hamburger meat, and they run it on sale for $1.69 to $1.99. Some weeks it is not on sale at all. I saw that todays price was $1.99, so I said "I will pick that up." Then I turned the page and saw that Save A Lot has hamburger meat for $1.29 per pound. I really do like the Winn Dixie better, but that is a good savings, and since I am making myself stick to a budget, I will go with the lower price. I use a price book too, and I find like you, that Wal-mart and Save a Lot are the cheapest.

Anonymous said...

Walmart accepts competitors ads and will price match for the same item. Just take in the ad and show the cashier and viola you get the lower price. No need to shop at various stores, unless that store has one thing that isnt at Walmart.

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