There are a lot of reasons for doing all your food shopping at one place. Convenience and fuel points are two examples. That’s why most people pick one store and do all of their shopping at a single store. Doing this, however, could be costing your hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year. A better strategy would be to follow prices at multiple stores and plan your grocery shopping trips to include stops at different stores.
Every store is going to have slightly different prices. In my small city, there are five major supermarket chains, plus at least half a dozen local chains and independent stores. None of the stores has the best price for all items. Frugal shoppers in the area know that one has the lowest prices on meat, but tends to be more expensive for frozen foods. Another is the best place for fresh produce, but has a poor selection of grocery items.
If you buy a lot of ethnic foods or spices, they will be cheaper at an ethnic grocery then at in the “world foods” section of a large supermarket. I know of a Mexican grocery that sells Goya’s Sazón Seasoning for half the price than at the only local supermarket that carries it. Of course, you could also learn to make your own seasonings and save a boatload.
Stores change their sales each week. While certain seasonal items may go on sale everywhere around the same time, most sale items will vary from store to store. Soup may be on sale at one store this week, and a different store next week. While the soup is on sale at store 1, the chicken may be on sale at a second store, and rice at a third. Plus, some coupons are store-specific. I see a lot of Target specific coupons in the coupon inserts. Target isn’t a store I normally do a lot of shopping at, but for a good coupon, I’ll stop by!
A few examples:
- A couple years ago, my mother discovered that the milk at the convenience store down the street from her was actually cheaper than the grocery store in town.
- The local natural foods store sells organic produce for a fraction of what my primary supermarket charges.
- I don’t like the store brand of baked beans at my primary store, so if I bought beans there, I would pay three times more for the name brand. But at another store, I do like the store brand. Buying their store brand over the name brand saves me almost $2 a can.
These are just some of the savings that can be found by shopping around. Recently technology has made doing this even easier. If you have a smart phone, there are apps available that let you compare prices right in the store. Just scan the barcode at the store with your phone and the app will tell you if another store has a better price. Of course, you’d be better off checking your prices before going to the store because then you know what stores to hit and which ones to skip.
Do you shop at more than one store?
Edward Antrobus is a food blogger, personal finance writer, ebook specialist, and construction worker.
His mother’s favorite saying is, “if you can read, you can cook.” She firmly believes that making simple dishes is not much more difficult than reading the directions on a recipe. His goal is to take the mystery out of cooking and endow everyone with the basic skills needed to cook your own food and save a fortune by not having to dine out all the time.