Sunday, September 26, 2010

Saving $ on Grocery Shopping

Since I've been out of the corporate arena, we've been budgeting our groceries. I personally LOVE grocery shopping especially in NYC where you can scour random stores for obscure items. When I lived a few blocks south of our current apartment I would frequent Fairway, and in the winter order from Fresh Direct, a delivery service. Now we're further away from Fairway so we shop at Pathmark, which I've written about before. It can be a very dramatic place to shop, and I find it both entertaining and frustrating at the same time. 

During my pregnancy Uka and I would shop together, but towards the end Uka would go on his own. He likes to say that I try to get him to spend more money and that he's more frugal than I am, but honestly, I just like good ingredients! Right now we don't buy organic as our budget doesn't allow and Pathmark has meager organic items, but I'd like to return to buying organic meat, dairy and produce which I used to do. 

Anyway, Uka became quite the bargain shopper during my pregnancy! We started shopping the circular and using coupons. Growing up my family used coupons (I was the official cutter and filer), but since we don't get the paper we don't use them as much. The highlight of Uka's shopping experience was when he got all of the following for only $19:

Here are a few tips we use to save on our grocery bill:
  • Make a list before we go - I know this seems to be a "common knowledge" tip, but I rarely see people shopping off a list at the grocery store, and Pathmark is notorious for people loading their carts then making final purchase decisions at the checkout
  •  Check the circular online before we go - I never realized the circular was online until Uka found it one day and started using it to check what was on sale; it saves us time and we try to buy only sale items each week
  • Shop the edges of the supermarket - Processed food is in the aisles and natural food (produce, dairy, meat etc.) is on the edges; while this might be considered more of a healthy-living tip vs. a save-money tip, I think because it affects your health in the long-run it can be a save-money tip too!
  • Purchase soon-to-expire meat - At first I was a bit skeptical of this, but we've found $2 off coupons attached to meat that expires in the next 24-48 hours; when we get home we just freeze it and it's fine for immediate use when we're ready
  • Buy store-brand food - While some items do taste substantially different (Cocoa Puffs and Cocoa Dots are completely different as I can attest from my childhood experience!), there are some items like mustard, spaghetti sauce and cheese that are on par with name brands. 
  • Sign up for Everyday Cheapskate - I've mentioned this newsletter before, but it gives such great money saving tips for not only grocery shopping but other everyday things as well
Now I wouldn't recommend this, but Apartment Therapy's The Kitchn showcased a story on a guy who ate food mostly from CVS for 31 days for $31. Honestly, I found it quite fascinating, but I wouldn't want to eat this diet for any length of time as its very nutrient poor:

Spent $31.00:
2 boxes of Quaker Instant oatmeal
4 packs of Philadelphia Cream Cheese Minis
1 package of Knudsen Light sour cream
10 apples
2 lbs of carrots
4 boxes (small) of Wheat Thins
1 jar of Skippy All Natural peanut butter
2 cans of pork and beans
1 bag of long grain brown rice
2 packages of Mission 100% whole wheat tortillas (10 count each)

What are your money saving grocery tips?


  1. coupons, coupons, coupons, lol. I love because they have a database, where you can search for coupons for your particular item, after you make your list.

    you guys live in a big city, so this one may not be practical, but I visit 2 different stores. Produce from Kroger, because it tends to be better quality AND quantity for the price, everything else from Walmart.

    A lot of stores will match competitor ads and store coupons, so if you can get ahold of the actual circular, you can avoid two trips, if one of the stores price matches!

  2. I don't know if you have Costco or another warehouse club in NYC but the savings can be well worth worth it. I pay $17 for a membership with my company instead of $50. They have the cheapest price on diapers and wipes and Egglands Best eggs. They also have great deals on beef in bulk and some specialty items. I wanted to try almond butter and a little thing of Maranatha was $7 at the normal store. A huge jar was $5 at Costco.

    You do have to know your usual grocery store prices though because it can be easy to get fooled into thinking you are getting a deal.

    I agree with Christina about the Walmart produce. I swear it goes rotten 3 days faster than produce purchased anywhere else! I don't buy it anymore.