Ever since I read about The Women in Red on MSN.com, I’ve been paying attention to my grocery bills. I spend a lot of money on groceries each month, and no matter where I shop, I can’t seem to bring those bills down.
I alternate between shopping at Winco, Bel-Air, Safeway, and Trader Joe’s. There are farmer’s markets this time of year that I need to take advantage of, but I keep forgetting to go. I shop at Winco for “big” shopping – a trend that I learned from childhood (because my parents got paid once a month (as do I) my mom did “big” shopping in the beginning of the month, buying $200-$300 worth of grocery staples, and shopping weekly for perishable items like milk and produce). I live very close to a Safeway and a Bel-Air, so I do tend to stop in there for quick things or when I shop on Sundays to get lunch items for the week.
At the beginning of this month, I took my mom to Winco for the first time. I’ve been telling her for years that Winco and Super Wal-Mart have great grocery prices, but for as long as I can remember, she has shopped at Lucky’s (until they were no more), Bel-Air and Safeway. She has recently retired, so she decided that she’d better start cutting back on expenses and decided to give Winco a try.
We had a GREAT time. Seriously, at Winco. We were there for almost two and a half hours, because we went aisle by aisle, and we had to keep stopping so that Mom could exclaim over the prices. “April, would you look at this?! This is $4.00 at the store, and here’s it $1.99!” She was hilarious, because she stopped to do that probably three to four times per aisle.
When we checked out, she had an almost-overflowing cart of items, and spent just under $150 (needless to say, she was ecstatic). Inspired by Mom’s good fortune, I went back to Winco this month to do some shopping. I went last Sunday and meant to only shop for the week; however, I did end up buying several items that would last multiple weeks (meat mostly, plus other things I could freeze like bread). I had about a half-cart of items, and spent just over $150. On groceries for the week, and some meat.
My problem that time was that I had a list, but I didn’t go by it. I usually make a list and then get to the store, and instead of following my list, I go aisle-by-aisle, in case I’ve forgotten to put anything on my list.
This week I didn’t need much, just fruit and veggies for the week, plus some lunchmeat. It was late last night when I headed to the store, so I just went down the street to Safeway. I actually hate Safeway – when I lived in Midtown there were two Safeways within six or so blocks of my house, and there were no other grocery options unless you crossed over the river and went to Super Wal-mart, which was not a “quick trip to the store.” I don’t know if I don’t like them just because I was forced to shop there for so long, or what, but they don’t seem to have the best prices or great specials.
Anyway, I digress. So I headed to Safeway just to buy fruits and veggies for the week, plus lunchmeat. I didn’t have a list, but to my credit I didn’t go aisle-by-aisle, either. I think that I just don’t know how to go grocery shopping; I left the store with $40.31 worth of groceries in my cart (not even two full bags), and according to my receipt, that was after I’d saved $9.39.
Now remember – there are TWO of us in my household. Just two. Well, and Bruiser, but we don’t let him eat people-food because he is slightly bulimic, so it would just be a waste of money.
Here’s what I bought yesterday, along with their “club-card” prices…maybe someone can tell me what I’m doing wrong? I’m really trying hard to buy enough groceries so that I’m prepared for the week and will continue eating healthy; I’m focusing mostly on whole, non-processed foods, which is more expensive, but hello, I need to lose weight and get in shape.
Mission Whole Wheat Tortilla, Fajita Size 3.79
Organic Large Brown Eggs 3.99
Good Housekeeping (okay, I know I shouldn’t have bought that…) 2.50
Nectarines (2.08lb at 2.99lb) 6.22
Apples (2.73lb at 1.99lb) 5.43
Carrots (3.02lb at .99lb) 2.99
Yellow Bell Pepper (.62lb at 1.99lb) 1.23
Romaine Hearts 2.5
Bag credit (2 bags @ .03/bag) -0.06
-.06 (what a lame credit, .03 cents!?)
Grand total: $40.31
That just seems like a lot. I only bought five or six apples, which won’t even last us the week. Ditto the nectarines. The bell pepper will go on two or three salads, plus maybe some for dipping. The strawberries will last maybe three days between the two of us.
I should note – I used to despise fruit, so it’s huge for me to be eating (and enjoying) fruit now. Am I just enjoying the most expensive fruit around? Are there cheaper fruits I could be packing in my lunch?
I need help! How do you all plan your weekly meals? What do you make for lunches, and what do you make for dinners. Perhaps I suck at meal planning, and that translates into sucking at grocery shopping. Maybe my lifetime of eating packaged foods, convenience lunches, and Pasta-roni dinners has just made me blind to how much real, fresh food costs.
What do you think?