Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Shopping Around

It is so easy to get stuck to one grocery store. Whether it be for the reward points or offers, the location, and sometimes the good deals, we usually spend most of our grocery money at one store. Now I have no official numbers on that, but I am comfortable saying it, as I've seen the trends within my own social circle. I'm guilty of it too! However, with the jars in place, I can see how much I have left for the month to spend on groceries, and I decide to go out of my normal grocery world to get the biggest bang for our bucks!

One thing I've found the most effective when shopping is having a list. Yes, this is my gold personality taking over, but it's so simple. Write down what you need, and don't buy anything other than what's on your list. Last night, I made a list of all the meals I would be making for the next 2-3 weeks (7 entrees that usually serve 4-6, so between the two of us, they last a while!). I picked recipes that did not require me to buy a lot, maybe 1-2 ingredients needed for each recipe. On top of that, I wrote down all the other things we needed, which was about 98% produce. Which brings me to one of the greatest grocery shopping tips I ever found in my undergrad years: stick to the outside walls and or isles of your grocery store. This is where all the fresh and minimally processed food is. Once you start to work your way in to the centre of the store, you start to get more and more processed. Now, with the exception of the odd baking item and household cleaning and maintenance supplies, you can usually find most of what you need in the outside isles. :)

To jump back on topic, I stuck exactly to my list! No deviations or justifications to why I thought anything else would be okay to through in the cart. Just what I needed, end of story! I did, however, not get two items on my list due to price! Even though I was at a cheaper-than-normal store because they cut costs on things like the cashiers bagging your purchases, the two meat items I needed were way more expensive than I know I've purchased them before. So, I proceeded to bypass them at this store. Instead, once I'd finished at store A, I drove directly across the road to enter the large wholesale store. I still had my list, and only 2 things on it I needed. So I headed straight to the back wall, grabbed my 2 meats, and went straight to the til to pay. Now, I bought way more meat than I needed, as both items (chicken thighs and pork loin) we divide into recipe sized portions and freeze. Which in this case, was a much more cost efficient option than buying only enough for one recipe for only a few dollars less. I bought 26 chicken thighs for $17, and a huge pork loin for $20. We will get 2-3 meals from the chicken thighs, and we cut up and portion the loin to get about 16 steaks, 2 medium freezer bags of cubed pork (Ie stew or kebab), and usually one bag of strips (best used in a chop suey or stirfry). So for about $85, I was able to buy enough for approximately 53 servings from the recipes we plan to use it all in, as well as items for 8 lunches, and our usual produce and fresh foods! SCORE!

So the savings today were huge for what I know I would have paid elsewhere. My challenge to you, know your prices, and think about possibly stopping at one more spot on the way home to save a large % on certain items. Get out of your bubble and try a new store. You don't know what you could save until you do!

Happy savings!
- C

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