Shopping For Supplies and Merchandise at the Grocery Store 

We’re all familiar with inexpensive variety stores that have been around as long as you can remember probably.  Originally, there was the five and dime or just the dime store and most everything there was a nickel or a dime.  However, inflation couldn’t keep its nose out of our lives and forced prices to go higher.  And remember, five cents back in those days would be worth over a dollar today.

Now we have the dollar stores which are a little misleading even though some things sell for a dollar or less but others multiples of a dollar.  They sell things such as cleaning supplies, toys, pet supplies, ironing boards, garden tools, candy and food that’s in a can.

Most products are sold for less than at a general retail store but it’s best to know your prices before you go in.  Some products are generic or private label brand made specifically for that company.

Other merchandise is purchased from another store that has had an overstock or close-out sale.  You might find items that were manufactured for a special promotion or event and are now out of date or sales have slowed too much to keep it in stock.

Wouldn’t it be nice if a dollar store sold fresh food?  Enter the 99 cents only stores where nothing is over 99 cents…ever.  Well, that’s what they say.  This chain was founded in 1982 and now boasts more than 260 stores in California, Nevada, Arizona and Texas.  Their total sales for fiscal year 2006 totaled one billion dollars.

They claim to be the oldest single price retail chain in the country offering deep discounts on primarily new name brand merchandise. The good news is some of their sales include fresh produce, a deli, frozen foods and occasionally fresh meat.

The deli features mostly cold cuts.  This is in addition to canned goods and other basic grocery items, plus health and beauty aids.  The inventory varies and not everything is name brand.

Recent ads for produce include cantaloupe for 99 cents, pound and a half of plums for 99 cents, dozen eggs 99 cents, milk 32 ounces for 99 cents and five pounds of potatoes for 99 cents.  Even a large watermelon for, yes, 99 cents.  By the way, the ad didn’t say what size the eggs were.  And, some wine snobs are enjoying their 99 cent wine.

These kinds of stores, until recently, were thought of as being in low income areas and shopped by low income people who didn’t mind some off brand merchandise if they could save money.  If that were ever true, that’s changed with the spiraling cost of food and gasoline.  Now, we’re all looking for a bargain.

The 99 cents only stores pride themselves on having a clean store with friendly, personal service.  Shelves are fully and neatly stocked, aisles are wide and the total environment is fresh and pleasant.

They even offer more help with a 99 cent only cookbook:  gourmet recipes at discount prices. If you live in one of the above four states and are trying to trim your food budget it might be worth your gas to shop and see what all you can get for 99 cents.

How to Cut Costs at the Grocery Store

 If you’re a frequent grocery shopper you’re aware of the constant increase in food prices.  We all must eat so not shopping is not an option.  Play the grocery game and develop a strategy to save as much as possible.

But, it’s more than clipping coupons.  It takes hard work and planning.  Make a list and stick to it.  Check to see what you already have so you don’t come home with duplicate items that may go to waste.

Shop alone if you have discipline.  Those extra helpers, be it children or spouse, can add extra goodies to the basket that are not needed and not on your well thought out list.

Don’t shop on an empty stomach.  If you do, everything looks good and you’ll find yourself straying from the list.  You might want to have a small snack before you shop to curb any ravenous appetite.

Compare the unit price and buy a larger size if it’s less per ounce or per pound.  You can always divide it up in smaller packages when you get home.  Higher priced items are usually placed at eye level so look up or down for lower priced foods.  More expensive items are also usually on the high traffic aisles so wander off the beaten path.

Do your own slicing and dicing.  Those pre packaged meats and cheeses are convenient but it is worth the price?  Bulk cheese is cheaper and said to be healthier.  Buying a whole chicken is much cheaper.  Cut it into parts later.  Freeze what you don’t need right away.  Less tender cuts of meat are cheaper and if prepared right can be just as delicious.

The same goes for cereal.  Those tiny one person servings cost more so buy the larger boxes.  Hot cereals are usually less expensive per serving than the ready to eat cereal.

Bake from scratch.

You pay more for ready mixes of cakes and cookies.  Prepared foods will cost you more so do a little more work and save.  Even the fancy cut pastas, rather than the plain, will add to your grocery bill.

Look for the mark down areas.  You might find fresh meat or vegetables that are about to go out of date but if you’re cooking them soon that’s no problem.

Check the receipt for errors.  Stores don’t do this intentionally but it happens frequently.  It could be entered incorrectly on the computer scanner or the checker could be rushed and enter the wrong amount purchased.  Check for errors as soon as you can and don’t be shy about getting it corrected.  Most stores are apologetic and give you a cheerful refund.

Plan a shopping day and avoid unnecessary trips.  Keep your recipes simple and shop happy.  Angry shoppers tend to impulse buy.  Shop early and avoid the frantic crowds.  Some consider grocery shopping good therapy while anticipating those delicious and healthy meals for themselves and family.

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