Apr 13 2012

Grocery prices are going way up! And what I’m doing about it.

Is anyone else alarmed at the prices at the grocery store lately? Something tells me this is only the beginning. Inflation is coming and is already here at the grocery.

In the past few months, I just absorbed the price increases and said, “Whatever. Don’t have time to shop around or get back into couponing.”

Now, I’m getting really annoyed. I do not want to go to several stores per week to save money. In fact, I’d prefer if I could get it to where I’m making one big trip 1-2x a month and then a smaller weekly trip for things like produce.

I do not want to spend much time on coupons, either. Pre-kids, I was all about the coupons. These days I love it when there are coupons stuck to products at the grocery, or if a coupon fairy leaves one behind on a shelf for a thing I need.

I’ve gotten lazy with the grocery shopping and now my wallet is starting to yell at me.

Time for plan C.

I’m going to make a master grocery list — things I typically buy over the course of the month, and some less frequent purchases (spices, oils, etc). And with that, I’m going to make a price book in a spreadsheet to compare regular prices at area groceries: Kroger, Walmart, Aldi, Trader Joe’s…and whatever else I come up with. For the non-perishable items, I’ll also look at prices online. (And here’s my 2007 price book spreadsheet post. Aww, nostalgia! I’m using that spreadsheet as a template for my new one.)

I don’t have a Sam’s Club or Costco membership right now though maybe it would be worth starting again.

I’m trying to purchase mostly organic stuff. If a produce option is available in organic, more often than not I’ll buy it (unless it’s a banana or avocado or something with a thick skin you don’t eat — I usually get conventional there). For meats, I’ve been getting grassfed or organic depending on where I’m at and what’s available. Maybe I can buy a quarter cut of beef or something and work with that.

We’re coming up on grill-out season so I need plenty of condiments. Trader Joe’s has been my favorite for those items since they don’t contain junk but they’re tasty and reasonably priced.

I guess I’m going to try to switch to the bulk shopping strategy instead of weekly trip at one place. I sort of stink at this method, because if I buy a ton of whatever, usually I just use it up fast instead of ration it out. Things like chocolate chips don’t last long around here. Maybe I ought to put my bulk food in my hall closet instead of in my pantry so I won’t be as tempted to tear open another bag of chocolate chips or whatever.

So. My strategy:

  • A master list of everything I usually buy — produce, meats, dairy, non-perishables, household goods and their prices at several area stores, and online where applicable.
  • Rotate through the grocery stores during my weekly trips. So, one week I’ll go to Trader Joe’s and bulk up, and buy other things I need for the week even if it’s not the rock-bottom price for somewhere else  — I’ll still get bananas even if they’re cheaper at Walmart or something so I don’t have to go to multiple places. They have good prices on chicken so I’ll take my cooler and load up. Ideally, I’ll get to the point where I’m buying at least a month’s worth of the non-perishables at a time.
  • The next week, I’ll go to Kroger (or whatever) and buy things for a good price there.
  • I’ll buy whatever I can online since that will save me a trip to the stores and money. Laura at Heavenly Homemakers has done lots of my work for me, and has tracked down prices on online foods.
I haven’t linked up with a CSA this year, but I do intend to go to the farmer’s market and load up on all the local produce I can carry each week. My budget isn’t so tight that it doesn’t have room to support the local farmer. I’m thankful for that. I don’t think they start until late May or early June around here. Soon!
And in theory, I’ll have some home-grown tomatoes. My seeds are indeed sprouting, but I still may need to buy some hardier seedlings to plant.
Are prices climbing where you live? What are you doing about it?

Posted under Groceries | 11 Comments »

11 Responses to “Grocery prices are going way up! And what I’m doing about it.”

  1. I found a coupon book in my grocery bag the other day, I didn’t even ask for it! I was happy the bag boy put it in though I saved 30$ in food yesterday when i went back to the store! I was never a major couponer’ but I do save them when i see something that I buy often, with prices how they are I am going to start couponing more now!

  2. I use coupons when I can but I mostly save on HBA, cleaning and paper products….I have a stock of razors, deodorant, feminine products, detergent and other stuff for pennies or for free at CVS/RiteAid/Walgreens.

    I have tried a price book but I haven’t been able to stick with it because what I buy varies depending on sales. How do you make it work?

  3. What is HBA?

    I think with the price spreadsheet, I’ll record regular prices and if it also happens to be on sale I’ll write that down too but if it’s not I’m not going to worry.

    That’ll help me get a better idea of when there’s a GOOD sale worth stocking way up on at Kroger, and when Walmart’s regular price is just so-so, or whatever. I dunno.

  4. I think HBA has something to do with health & beauty … not sure where the A comes in, though … aid, accessories?? ;)

    Have you seen this post from Krazy Coupon Lady’s website? It describes typical sale cycles so you can try to predict when certain things will be on sale, and stock up if possible.
    The article is about 18 months old, but a lot of the information is probably still relevant!

  5. If you shop at Kroger, you should subscribe to I Heart Kroger: http://www.iheartkroger.com/
    She matches up sales with RedPlum and SuperSaver coupons. I’ve just been filing the uncut coupons away as I get them and when I see something good on the site, I pull that circular out and cut out the coupon.

  6. I have definitely noticed that grocery prices are on the rise. It’s actually been pretty good timing, because I’m due with baby #2 at the end of May, so I am stocking up big time (as much as a year’s worth if it won’t go bad) as items we use come on sale. So, assuming that prices will continue to rise over the next couple of months, I will be already stocked up for quite awhile.

    I do still use coupons, though I’ve cut back since my son was born. I’m guessing I will streamline even further once baby #2 is here.

  7. I highly recommend a Costco membership if you like to eat organic. They have so many options! I go once a month, hit wal-mart once a month for a select few items that are drastically cheaper there and then supplement those trips with the loss leaders and produce from the local grocery store. We have a CSA membership year round as well.

    I am getting very frustrated with the grocery prices. I am going to sit down with my checkbook tonight and see exactly where my money has been going. When I do the budget on paper every 2 weeks it works out great. But yet we never have any money in the checking account and we should be carrying over $500-$800 each pay period to cover the monthly things like mortgage. I also want to track my spending, but forgot to do it with the last paycheck and don’t remember much. So starting friday I want to track it for awhile and really see where we are spending, because we are absolutely overspending. I just don’t know where.

  8. Do you keep track of the price after coupons if you use them? I try to use coupons when I can but sometimes the best price is picking a different product.

  9. HBA: health and beauty aids..

  10. So far I haven’t kept track of the prices of anything, coupon or no. I’m using a lot of generics as long as it’s cheaper and what I’m seeking, but my oh my!

  11. I definitely need to get back into couponing, although with prices going up it’s been getting harder – I use to get SO MUCH for free that I loved couponing, now it’s harder to save as much (I think). But I suppose some savings would be better than nothing. I also like your idea of rotating the stores you go to each week – I usually hit up Sprouts and Aldi but then occasionally need to throw Walmart or Kroger in there and that’s just too much with two kiddos. So, I might start rotating too to see if that helps!

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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