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The Grocery Game

July 6th, 2008 at 11:45 am

Like many food shoppers, I'm not loyal to a single grocery store. Depending on what's on sale, I may frequent Stop & Shop, Trader Joe's, Costco, Shop Rite and Expect Discounts, a discount supermarket with a large Latino customer base.

But with grocery prices ever rising, I'm forced to reexamine the price of everything. About a month ago, I started another price book, which is really just a list, organized by both store and food category (dairy, canned veggies, fresh produce, frozen, grains, beverages, etc.) recording the prices of those items I most regularly purchase.

Recently, I shifted my allegiance to Expect Discounts and spent less time at Stop & Shop. Fresh produce, for instance, was always cheaper at Xpect as long as you didn't mind picking through over-ripe fruit in their unrefrigerated bins.

I pored through the Shop Rite circular. I was quite surprised to see that in some cases, Shop Rite prices beat Expect's. Take ketchup. I happened to have just bought ketchup at Xpect, a 1 lb, 8 oz. bottle for $1.18. I thought it was higher than before but assumed that since everything was going up, it wasn't out of keeping with anything else. Shop Rite's price was .99 for a larger 2 lb, 4 oz bottle. Imagine that!

I thought i was getting a "deal" at Xpect when I found two pound boxes of pasta at .80 a pound, but Shop Rite had one pound boxes on sale at .74 a pound.

Not everything at Shop Rite was cheaper. I bought a two pound bag of pre-cooked frozen shrimp at Stop & Shop for $6.99, while the same item cost $9.99 at Shop Rite.

Until food prices stabilize (and that won't happen until oil prices do), keeping an accurate price book will continue to be a challenge.

Until then, I won't buy many food items until they go on sale. Pepperidge Farm Dark German Wheat Bread is just great, but once I learned it goes on sale at regular intervals, I'll wait until it's offered at one-third off. Then I'll stock up and buy four loaves, freezing those I'm not using.

I do the same thing with Lean Cuisine entrees. They're handy and easy to bring to the office for lunches, but their regular price of $3.50-plus is too high, so I'll wait until they go on sale at $2.50 each. If they don't go on sale, I don't buy 'em.

2 Responses to “The Grocery Game”

  1. baselle Says:

    Congrats on starting the price book. I still have mine - unfortunately the prices in it now seem like the "good old days". Right now I'm at simple rules - if its below $1/lb its a buy. If its a "bit" more expensive but an "okay" deal ($1.50/serving) w/ no waste - ie box of salad is another buy. And if you don't use gas to get there, all the better.

    Any thoughts on collecting grocery stores that you can walk to or that are on the way to your carpool? Noticed that one of your goals in 2008 is to get more exercise - perhaps this is one way to get a twofer.

    I think these days we are all trading time for money. Adding that hour might be the cost of doing business in 2008. Sigh.

  2. ali Says:

    also keep an eye out for vendors of local products, less transportation means lower price.

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