Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Grocery Comparison Shopping

As far as grocery shopping goes, I keep my list pretty much in my head. I can tell you, though, that I've shopped almost all of the grocery stores in this area, and have consistently found Shoprite to come up with the best prices on most products.

I've shopped (and of course this is my locality, so some of you may not have seen these stores in your area):
Giant/Super G
... and probably a couple more!

Cons of "discount stores" such as Aldi's and Save-a-Lot:
- Don't always have everything you need.
- Meat and produce is sometimes low quality.
- Not always the best prices in any case. You can get similar or better prices on sales at other stores.

For a quick trip, I don't mind going to Acme, but I always know I'm going to spend more. I've found it to be one of the highest priced stores in the area, and even their sales are sometimes not worth it.

I feel the same about Genuardi's as I do about Acme, but I shop online with them in a bind, if I REALLY don't have time but desperately need groceries. I always use their coupons for free delivery, though. I don't order unless I can get free delivery!

Giant has fairly good prices, but can be all over the board, so I would always check the circulars before going there.

The best advice I can give for grocery shopping is this:
- Stick to sale items
- Buy generic whenever possible
- Compare prices for each brand on the shelf. Sometimes the sale price isn't always the best price.
- Compare unit prices. Sometimes buying the larger one may seem more expensive, but if you will use all of it before it goes bad, it is a better value in the long run and you'll be making less trips to the store.
- Check expiration dates and see if you can get the latest date possible. Less waste = less trips to the grocery store = saving money.
- Plan meals around the good sale items. Of course, not around the sale items that are crap, though. Bad nutrition certainly isn't frugal!
- Shop with a list. This has saved me a lot of money and storage space, actually, since I don't end up purchasing a lot of stuff I won't use. It takes me some time to make my list, since I create a loose meal plan (including desserts, breakfasts, snacks, drinks) before creating my list, but it also allows me to know EXACTLY what I need.
- Go through your pantry, freezer, and fridge and take "inventory" before going shopping. There's probably some things lurking back there that you forgot you had and can use.

The bottom line for getting the best prices on grocery shopping is that it pretty much depends on your purchasing habits. I can tell you where the overall best prices are, but you need to evaluate if that works for you.

Links to grocery circulars:

This "Works for Me", so I'm posting it over at WFMW at the wonderful blog, We Are That Family.