Saving at the grocery store

We are trying to bring down one of the biggest costs in our household: the grocery bill. I think the only thing higher is our rent.
We have three teen and preteen boys in the house, and they can eat. We try to choose healthy, and we do eat dairy and meat, which raise the bill. We tend to shop at WINCO, Their prices are good and they are employee owned, which we appreciate. Before we moved here, we frequented the Discount Grocery Outlet, but now the closest one is 30 miles away. Since the inventory is forever changing, it is a hard to store go out of the way for. We also shop at our local food co-op and Safeway. Since we are trying to reduce our cost, I have decided to tweak our model. Yesterday I scoured the websites of 3 different grocery stores. We have 2 IGAs as well as the Safeway, co-op,  and WINCO. There are also 2 WalMarts, but we don’t shop at WalMart for ethical and sensory issues. I price checked. I also made a meal plan, or at least a loose one. I came up with about 10-15 different main dishes that we would be interested in eating, so we can pull cheap, easy, quick meals out of our hat.

The list:
Creamed tuna or chicken casserole
Potato and Mushroom Soup
Spaghetti with meat or clam sauce
Pizza (from scratch)
Veggie Omelets
Lentil or split pea soup with bread
Chicken and Dumplings
Corn Chowder
Shepherd’s Pie
Egg Foo Young
Meatloaf in Acorn Squash bowls

We went to WINCO with our list and sale prices from other stores. We plan to make a price book so we will know the best price at a glance, but having this list was a big help. It took us a total of 3 hours to go to all these different stores. I hope to get into shopping every two weeks, making the shopping trip more efficient. Our trip to Safeway was especially satisfying. They have their new loyalty program that requires customers to log in and select the sales they want to participate in. These sales are personalized for each customer, somehow. I always forget to sign in and use the program, just like I always forget to keep track of my Rite Aid rewards money. But this time, I logged in and grabbed some bargains. One of them was Lucerne yogurt for $1.57 a quart. We eat a lot of yogurt and usually spend about $2 a quart, so I was happy about this. When we got to the store, we found the red “reduced” sticker on a quart of plain lowfat. The sticker said 50% off the club price. We found a total of 6 plain yogurts with these stickers. Each quart cost 79 cents!  Thanks to the discount club, I was able to get block cheese at$2.25 a pound. We will use our food processor to shred it. I also grabbed a gallon of milk for $2.25. Given the fact that milk prices may soon soar, I am happy to find any deals I can!

Goals to reduce food cost: eat in more, carry snacks in the car to avoid drive thru temptation, create a price book, comparison shop and shop at multiple places to keep costs low, participate in Bountiful Baskets, shop Safeway clearance, reduce waste!, and clean out freezer* so we can use it.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the Dude is planning to make snowshoes. We found a possible solution, and so went to Ace to buy PVC couplers. While we were standing in line, I noticed there were free calendars, and I grabbed one and discovered I was eligible for a free roll of packing tape with a $10 purchase. Our purchase came to $10.18, and now we have a spare roll of tape.

*I don’t remember if I posted about this, but over the summer, we bought a frozen turkey and put it down in the basement freezer. The freezer was on a power strip which was accidentally switched off. The result was obnoxious and smelly, and it all happened at the hottest part of the summer. We tossed the turkey, but there is a bloody stinky mess in the freezer. We plugged it back in and shut it up, in order to deal with it another day. That day has not yet come! The freezer sits in the basement, plugged and empty, waiting for someone to clean and deodorize it. Sad state of affairs.

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