Store-hopping deals

Daoxiao mian / Knife-cut Chinese noodle (刀削麵) ...

Daoxiao mian / Knife-cut Chinese noodle (刀削麵) Specialty store (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few days ago, we stopped at Safeway to grab something for dinner, having not had time to fix anything before leaving for church. My husband wanted pizza (his favorite), but knew that it would be hard on the stomach that late at night, so opted for a salad instead. I ran in to get the fixings, and was able to pick up a large container of fresh salad for just $5! Even better, it was organic! I was surprised to learn that the organic salad was the same price as the regular- making it affordable.

Of course, I snatched up that deal, but it got me to thinking. I grew up shopping different stores. In an effort to maximize our limited food budget, my mother would shop around at various locations- meats here, produce here, and hey, this store now has apples on sale!

When I married, I continued that tradition… for a time. Now, with a 7-month-old in tow, it makes it a little difficult. Getting to one store, getting her out of the carseat, going through the store while murmuring a prayer that she doesn’t fuss, getting out to the car, loading her back in the carseat, loading the groceries, going to the next store, repeat. It’s a lot. And as I don’t care for going to a lot of stores and getting in and out in the first place, it gets even more tiring.

So I stopped doing it. I limited my shopping to just two stores- Walmart and a local specialty store that I knew had good products. But at that dinner rush trip, I learned that I could better maximize my food budget if I expanded more.

Every store has its advantages. Learn what each store has in stock and what their prices are. Like I did, you may find that buying quality products at one store is impossible, but at another, it becomes affordable.

If necessary, keep a journal of the stores you visit, what products they carry, and especially the prices (and I’ll get more into pricing in another post). Use a paper and pencil notebook, an app on your phone, or whatever else works for you. Keep an eye out for sales- sometimes, the “good” stuff is on sale, so watch out for it!

While you’re at it for store-hopping, don’t neglect those specialty stores! Many of them have great foods at great prices. While some are overpriced, others may have even better prices than “regular” stores. Also, you are more likely to find fresh, less processed foods at specialty stores, and in bulk, too. I can get 20lbs of dry beans for only $10 from my local Mexican market- I’m lucky to even find that much at a Walmart, much less for the price!

Shop wisely. Use your town to its fullest. Find which stores offer which products at the best prices. Use specialty markets. Keep an eye out for sales. And good luck on healthy living!

P.S. If you’re on food stamps or otherwise have a limited budget, chances are you could use some more money. (who doesn’t?) Watch on Saturdays for tips on building your own business (with as little investment as possible), working from home, and earning a little extra cash on the side. If you’d like some personal tips for you, leave a comment and I’ll get back with you!

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