Grocery Budget Extreme Makeover Part IV

Level 1: Bargain Belle

Shop Wisely

• Shop alone! I know it can be incredibly hard to shop without your children, but doing so can be a huge time and money saver.
• Shop on discount days at stores that offer them. Some stores offer discount days for seniors or students, while other stores have monthly discounts for everyone.
• Choose where you shop wisely. Buying all of your groceries at the same store is often more expensive. Where I live, the best deals are at the bakery thrift store where you can find the same breads sold in your supermarket, including Earth Grains, for .50-$1.50 per loaf everyday, the locally-owned chain grocery store, and sometimes the discount/clearance store that carries nonperishable foods. However, when I choose to shop the discount store, even for organic products that are drastically discounted, I remind myself that everything they sell is processed and is a “want” versus a “need.”

• Here is a sample list of shopping options:

1. Bakery Thrift Stores such as Entenmann’s, Kern’s, Pepperridge Farm’s: Bread, bagels, buns, cookies, etc. at deep discounts.
2. CSAs (community supported agriculture): Local, seasonal food directly from farmers.
3. Specialty food cooperatives or buying clubs: Purchase in bulk the items you would normally purchase at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s or health food stores. Be careful. The prices are not always better, but you do support the co-op and save a lot of packaging and gas since you make only one trip to pick up the items.
4. Farmer’s Markets: The freshest produce and homemade goods you can get without growing or making them yourself. I have found the best prices on local, organic meats here. Some cities have them year ‘round and even take food stamps/EBT.
5. Local farmers, orchards, wineries, etc. for fresh produce and meat: Bulk and pick-your-own fruits and vegetables. Especially good deals can be found at the end of the season. Check Craigslist, Local Harvest, and regional online groups (type in “local food” and your geographic area).
6. Amish, Jewish, Asian, or other specialty stores owned by members of your community: Specialty products such as fresh Amish butter and kosher products.
7. Colleges and universities: Purchase locally raised meat, produce, prepared items, plants, and seedlings online or at farmer’s markets.
8. Produce auctions: regional auctions of local produce at outstanding prices (Google “produce auction” and your geographical location.)
9. Regional stores like Jungle Jim’s in Cincinnati: Even if you don’t live nearby, the discount produce section makes this store well worth the trip.
10. The Grocery Outlet and similar stores where you can find traditional groceries at deep discounts. (I would love to live in an area that had one of these.)

This list is not exhaustive, but just a start to get you thinking outside of the box if you typically do all of your shopping at one store.

What’s your local favorite?



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Formerly, I've worked in publishing and been a medical student. Currently, I'm a freelance writer and copy editor, and full-time mom with two exceptional daughters. LivingLaVidaMama focuses on intentional frugality and the Specific Carbohydrate Diet that has dramatically improved my younger daughter's autistic-like symptoms. Contact me at MadForWriting at