Shop Cheap

Sharing the best prices on groceries and other stuff in the Sacramento region.

January 9, 2009
Tips from Shop Cheap readers

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?


 From Dorothy

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.


From Norm

Another great source for internet coupons is: 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!


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!


From Bill

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.


From Elizabeth

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



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About Shop Cheap

Pam Dinsmore is The Bee's Community Affairs Director. When she's not working, she's shopping. The goal of this blog is to help you save time and money at the grocery store. She's pretty good at it but she can't do it alone. That's where you come in, sharing your tips and secret methods for saving money. You can either respond to the blog or email her at

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