Shop Cheap was featured in The Bee's Food & Wine section on Wednesday where she served up 15 ways to save at the grocery store. Readers readers responded immediately with tips of their own. The suggestions are too good not to share. Here goes:
From Tom in Davis:
Thanks for the tips. I thought I'd share a few ideas.
1--Buy generic drugs and supplements at Costco or Sam's club.
Acetaminophen 500mg, Ibuprofen 200mg and Naproxen Sodium 250mg are much cheaper than the brand name or even the generic at local drug stores.
1000 tabs of Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen are less than $10
300 tabs of Naproxen sodium is less than $9
Generic Centrum Silver is around $12 for 400 tabs.
240 tabs of glucosamine 1500mg is less than $15.
Buy spices in bulk and Winco. You can get as much or as little as you like much cheaper than the prepackaged.
They also have good prices on bulk nuts, cereal, rice, & popcorn also house brand laundry detergent.
Wal-Mart sells 24oz cottage cheese for $2.00.
It really pays to shop around and compare prices.
From Allen in Sacramento
Your column is a great idea to help people save money -- very baffling
trying to calculate true pricing, with all tricks the stores play on
you! On the other hand, a little common sense will help a lot --- for
instance, if you want a drink, why not just go back home and turn on
the faucet instead of paying $3.99 and then having a bunch of plastic
bottles to throw away? I know people who have been drinking Sacramento
water for 60 or 80 years and are still going strong. Several
scientific tests have shown that bottled water is no better than most
faucet water, sometimes it's even polluted by unwanted additives.
(Have you seen Dr. Strangelove?)
Bravo for your #15 item! There is no one sillier than a person
wandering down the aisles, babbling into a cell phone. If you didn't
make a shopping list before you left home, why make everyone in the
store a victim of your carelessness? Or are you too weak-minded to
make up your mind on what highly-advertised brand to buy when you
known down deep inside that there is really not much difference in
brands or even in house brand vs. expensive brand?
I was surprised when reading your tips on saving money when grocery shopping in today's Bee that you mentioned buying water. If anyone is having trouble making ends meet this is the first thing they should give up. Neither my husband nor I can understand why the young people need to buy water - it is more expensive than gasoline.
Another thing, you didn't mention it would help if week's menu is planned before going shopping - will prevent buying things you do not need. I find this really helps.
You mentioned Winco. I used to always shop at Safeway. Very seldom shop there anymore since I discovered Winco. Their vegetables and fruit are so much cheaper than Safeway and others items, too. For instance Crisco shortening. At Safeway over $7. At Winco less than $4 (at least the last time I bought it). Costco beats both on some items.
Another great source for internet coupons is: www.suddenvalues.com. They provide local coupons for local merchants.
From Evelyn in Sacramento
My suggestions below may seem a little drastic, but let me tell you, grocery shopping is a challenge at best and when a shopper can accomplish the task successfully, it feels really good!
SHOP WITH CASH ONLY AND ALLOW YOURSELF A SPECIFIC AMOUNT. IF A SHOPPER GOES OVER THAT AMOUNT, PUT SOMETHING BACK UNTIL THE NEXT TIME!
1. Shop the ads............
Good suggestion, but you should have added a couple more things: NEVER shop without a list and ONLY BUY what's on that list. By using the ads, make a week's worth of menus and include EVERYTHING you'll need to make those meals on your list.
2. Clip coupons .........
I never have because the coupons are usually for items I never buy and for expensive brand names - can purchase store brand items probably for the same price or less which you suggest further down into your article. Unless a person uses the coupon items on a regular basis, they are useless.
3. Make a list ..........
I addressed this issue earlier but one thing I would caution. Be firm with yourself and DO NOT BUY anything that isn't on your list - whether it's on sale or not. That area is usually where most of the extra money gets spent - just had to buy it because it was on sale!
Stores that use club cards: It may be a beneficial exercise to compare that store's prices with and without the club card.
WHY WOULD ANYONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND BUY BOTTLED WATER! It has been proven that the water in those plastic bottles is tap water and really not any better/worse than what comes out of your faucet. If you must carry bottled water, refill from your faucet and refrigerate - think of the money you'd save.
BUY WHAT YOU NEED - NOT WHAT'S A GOOD DEAL that may sit in your kitchen cabinet for a month or so until you use it.
AGAIN I'LL SAY = DO NOT GO FROM STORE TO STORE: I found that by not going go other stores for my non-edible merchandise, I saved a few dollars not buying things I just couldn't live without and were not at the grocery store.
ONE LAST THING: ANY processed food - soup, stews, frozen foods, chilies, etc should be a NO-NO - a slow cooker would be a better purchase!
Great article about shopping for food. I have been a loyal customer of WinCo for quite some time now and won't go anywhere else unless its for one or two items only. They have the best bulk area there that we use all the time. But I still compare the bulk prices to the package prices and for the most part the bulk is cheaper.
During Christmas they had a sale on Prime Rib Roasts for $2.78 a lb. I bought 2 ten pounders. What a deal.
Enjoyed your article in today's Bee. Good to see someone encouraging
us to use coupons and buy weekly specials. I have a record of saving
50% or more on a regular basis at Safeway, though our family of 2
(seniors) really doesn't require a lot. Also, living within 5 miles of
4 major supermarkets and 2 big box stores ( WinCo and Walmart ) makes
it easy to pick up the specials at each store as well as finding the
lowest prices on items other than specials in one trip!
I would add just 2 things for your readers:
Every Fall and again in January there are "school" day specials
on baggies, freezer zip-lock bags, and all sizes of freezer
containers. I stock up on those at that time.Then when I shop, I buy
"value" packages of meats and poultry, especially those that are on
sale. I break them down into portions for 2 and freeze them, so I can
make a 5 pound package of ground beef last for about 10 meals a month.
Every Spring and Summer, prices of frozen and canned vegetables
and fruit go on sale at many markets, in anticipation of incoming
crops. Even meats, poultry, eggs and dairy products follow a cycle
based on the availability of the product. When possible it pays to
anticipate how many cans of tomatoes you might need from one tomato
season to the next. If you buy ahead, always check the expiration