Monday, July 22, 2013

The basics part 2, shopping

To recap from yesterday. We have analyzed the grocery ads and picked the best TWO stores this week. We do this to make best use of specials and give us a couple of choices for the best produce. Plan your route and incorporate any other errands to maximize your gas.

Prepare for your trip.
1) check coupon connections,com or the coupon matchup in your area for any matchups that will work for you. Many coupons these days you can print right off your computer. Many are for garbage you don't need anyway, but I can usually gleam a few bucks. I have been getting toothpaste for free. Gathering enough to take a bunch to the women's shelter. my husband jokes that ill be the toothpaste "fairy". LOL. I have been getting Yoplait coupons a lot.
if you haven't already signed up for store cards, do it. Many have web sites you can download coupons from.

2) bring your grocery flyers, your list, your coupons, any list of coupons you down loaded on your store card. Get in the store, , get your list , and get out. The more time you spend in a store, the more money you will spend. There is a whole blog on the Phycology of retail.

3) Keep your eyes open. There are a lot of stores that carry food. Each one has their specialty items and their individual attributes.

WinCo and Costco are warehouse stores. At WinCo , you have to bag your own, so bring a helper and your walking shoes, it's huge. Costco has good prices on household necessities like TP and laundry soap.
The bananas are cheaper and lots of veggies and dairy are pretty stable prices. Winco has a very large bulk bin isle and is a price stable store, they have low prices all the time, no specials. Some things are just about rock bottom prices. You won't get the best buys on soap etc at the grocery store. The grocery stores margin of profit is too much.
This is probably a no Brainer, but the fancy alternative, we sell no xxxxx food stores are not your best friend for low income shopping.

The Dollar Tree has a fair amount of food. Sunflower seeds, pepperoni, and frozen vegetables are always low priced.

The bakery outlet covers your bread And a occasional cookie buy .

We have over-stock stores. Many times what they do have is a lot cheaper. Big Lots has a twenty percent off the entire store ever so often. I can usually score hunts diced tomatoes for the lowest price. hunts peels their tomatoes with steam, some other companies peel theirs with chemicals. grocery Outlet is good for regular coffee and cheeses. They have a wide selection of specialty cheeses and most at a good price. Their produce is not as good as I would like. Some prices are not cheaper than sale prices elsewhere, you have to know your prices.

Occasionally our drug store has good food buys. Not so much since the food isles have been replaced with booze.

Don't overlook the alternative stores, always check pull dates.

No ONE store is going to have the best prices.

We go to 2 chain stores a week. We hit the warehouse stores about every 4-6 weeks, and we hit the alternative stores when we are in the area for other errands. We hit the bakery outlet about every 6-8 weeks. I fill in with sale bread and refrigerator bread.

Set your grocery allowance per week. If you are on SNAP, divide the monthly allotment by 4.2. if you spend more one week because you have stocked or got a good meat sale, then back off the next week to compensate.

When you shop, you should get to the point where you can buy

A bulk meat purchase at a loss leader price.
Fruits and vegetables in season to round out your meals, and bread and dairy.
A stock item, or two that is at a rock bottom price.

Basically you are filling in your stock and adding your perishable you need to fill out your meals.

By purchasing a loss leader meat once a week and batch cooking it, you have a variety of meats, but you are getting your meat at the lowest price and making the most efficient use of your cooking time.
I rotate chicken, pork sausage at Costco, hamburger, pork loin or beef roast or London broil. It depends on what meat I can find cheap. I rotate the meat in the freezer and add a couple of vegetarian meals.

The object of your shopping is to feed your family real food, but not pay full price for anything.

The dreaded topic: junk food.
If you are on SNAP, it is based on the figures from the USDA chart for thrifty meals. It is on the web and updated every month or so, a couple of months delayed. It does not afford what my mother used to call peanuts, popcorn, and cracker jacks. In other words, the unhealthy food is not part of their plan. The good news is that of your children just HAVE to have a sugar coated cereal or other snack food, most of them have coupons you can find and they can be almost if not free if you live in a state that has double coupons. The mean person that I am, would let the kids find their coupons and sales to match them. If they want the junk food really bad , they will invest the time, if not, they will eat good nutritious food.

Admittedly, this shopping plan takes a little more time. You are trading some time for money. I always could find the time.

If you spend more time on the front end of the "get the dinner on the table train" and less time on the back end, you will be money ahead. You get PAID for shopping, not for cooking.

There are ways to efficiently put dinner on the table that take less time, making up for the time spent shopping more than one store. Scratch cooking is tomorrow's topic.

I do these basic posts monthly Each one is off the top of my head. I suspect some are better written than others, please feel free to look at other posts on the subject.

Thank you for stopping by

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