Adventures in Grocery Shopping

I dislike grocery shopping.  It’s one of my least favorite things I do every weekend.  Yet I regularly go to three different grocery stores every week.  While it’s kind of a pain, it saves me a lot of money…all in the name of getting the best possible product for the lowest possible price.

In order to make it more manageable, I usually head to Wal-Mart and Trader Joe’s on Saturday morning, and hit Wegmans on Sunday morning.

At Trader Joe’s I get a limited number of items that I find are the best quality for the money (usually just coffee and cat food, but sometimes I’ll get some pasta sauce or snack foods).

At Wal-Mart I’ll get some of my regular grocery items that are less expensive there than at Wegmans.  Why do fat-free cottage cheese and Progresso soup have to be cheaper at Wal-Mart than at Wegmans?  I’ll never know.  But I get those things and several other items with lower price tags at the Walton empire every week.  I also browse through the meats and produce at Wally World to look for bargains.  It’s not my regular go-to spot for these things, but sometimes I find amazing deals.  For instance, a week ago I got an amazing deal on some strip steaks that were labeled “first cut.”  They weren’t pretty.  But they were delicious nonetheless.  And they were much cheaper than the rest of the strip steaks in the case.  And I regularly find great deals there on meats that are going out of code.  Look for the bright yellow labels.  They usually say to use or freeze by the current day’s date.  No problem.  I have a freezer and I love to get a great deal!

At Wegmans I get just about everything else I need.  Believe it or not, many things are cheaper there than at Wal-Mart.  A box of store-brand cereal is a full 28% cheaper at Wegmans than at Wally World.  And that’s just one of many, many things that are less expensive at the store where all the carts do not have at least one wobbly wheel.  And Wegmans is also my go-to for most of my produce needs (though I am thinking about turning to a CSA in the future).

While I don’t go there every week, like the other three stores, my local warehouse club is also a part of my regular grocery plan.  I get most of my meats at Sam’s Club in bulk and freeze them in individual serving sized packages.  The quality of the meats is great and the savings is significant.

Is it a pain in the neck to go to so many different stores for my grocery needs?  A little bit.  I have to take the time to go to a bunch of different places.  I have to have a general awareness of how much the items I use regularly cost in the different stores.  I have to be aware of quality issues (because sometimes the cheapest option has disappointing quality, making it not the best choice).  But going through this exercise helps me to get the food that I want at the best possible price.  To me, it’s worth it.  If I were to get everything in one store, I would have to make concessions on either quality or price.  And those are sacrifices I’m not willing to make.

How many grocery stores do you visit regularly?

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