Saving on groceries
The simplest way to save money is to not buy anything but you need to eat so let’s see how we can spend a little less.
Warehouse Clubs for families
If you have a family you have many mouths to feed that means buying in bulk! You NEED to save money here.
- Warehouse clubs: Costco, Sam’s Club, BJs. While these clubs charge for membership on the order of $80/ year the savings do actually pencil out for a family of four. The bigger the kids the more they eat, especially teens.
- We like Costco for example as the prices are quite competitive, the selection is good and sampling along will fill you up. You can also buy that $1.50 hot dog on the way out if you are still hungry.
- Once you have the membership you can also get good deals on non-food items like tires, TVs, vitamins, clothing and other items that typically have a high markup.
- Clubs are a great place to buy diapers and baby formula. We save a lot on those. The diapers come on sale sequentially be brand so if you are brand agnostic you can save five to eight dollars per box almost every time.
- Some clubs give you cash back on executive membership levels once you exceed a certain purchase threshold. I met our threshold when I bought a new set of Michelin tires and saved $90.
Discount Grocery Stores without a membership requirement
Try discount grocers like Grocery Outlet which is essentially the TJ Maxx of food. The variety changes but the pries are reasonable.
Private label discounters like Aldi,which is a German store chain known for rock bottom grocery prices throughout Europe, is now in parts of the USA and coming to Canada. The items are private label meaning their brands but the prices are low. Think Aldi brand salsa. BTW Aldi is the parent of Trader Joes so that is why they are similar. Studies have found Aldi to be cheaper than Wal-Mart on groceries. The places are designed for efficiency meaning you bring your own bags, bag your own groceries and even put a small deposit on a cart to ensure you return it to the right location. They pass those product and labor savings on in the prices to the consumer. It’s very minimalist by design with very few workers per store.
Lidl is another German private label discount grocer known for very low prices in Europe that is starting to expand in the US. So far they are only in a few East Coast locations. Lidl carries both name brands and private label brands wheres Aldi focuses mostly on private label brands.
Mass merchants like Wal-Mart and Target can have decent prices as they are trying to break into the grocery space. I go to a nearby Wal-Mart neighborhood market for some items as things such as coffee and toiletries are reasonably priced.
Use buyers club at normal grocers so that you at least get the discount. Get them for every chain like Kroger, Fred Meyer, Stop and Shop etc and find the one with the best deals. This is my least favorite option but if that is all you have in your area try to get the sales prices or at least the gasoline points.
For Singles Small Servings
For people buying smaller portions the large package sizes at most grocery stores and definitely clubs are way too big. The food may expire before it gets eaten. Think that 64 oz/2 Liter ketchup bottle or 48 pack of ramen noodles.
For singles a neat but still affordable place to shop is Trader Joes. It’s all private label and the prices are decent for smaller portions of say ground beef and fruit. Plus there is a good selection of frozen and easy to prepare meals. You can also buy beer by the single bottle and get some Two Buck Chuck Wine (Charles Shaw). I used to shop at one in Boston and found my grocery bills to be about ten to fifteen dollars lower per visit versus a normal grocery store.
TJs is efficient as product is private label and the parent company is actually Aldi, the German rock bottom grocer. This allows them to have buying power bigger than their size. However it’s all store brand so your granola bars will be Trader Joe Bars and cookies Jo Jos.
As a bonus there are other singles in the city at TJs so maybe you will make a friend or get a date. 🙂