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 »

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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