As we close out 2010, we decided to get the shopping cart and take a stroll down memory lane to check on prices from a year ago. And guess what? When we went back to Shop Cheap from Dec. 29, 2009, we found some of the same old stuff with the same old prices. If you want to see for yourself, go to www.sacbee.com/Shop Cheap and click on December.
In fact, the Save Mart ad in 2009 and today is virtually the same: Fresh Dungeness crab for $2.99lb, cooked salad shrimp for $3.99; Atlantic salmon fillets for $5.99lb. One exception, oysters were 69-cents last year and 59-cents today! Be sure to check out the Cioppino recipe in the ad.
If guac is on your New Year's appetizer menu, avocado is only 37 cents each at Save Mart; $1 each at both Safeway and Raley's.
Here's what else we like at Save Mart as we close out 2010: boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $1.58lb; New York strip roast for $3.99lb and BOGO Foster Farms fresh ground turkey. The price of Nabisco or Ritz crackers is $1.99 a box and Lay's chips are $1.89 a bag.
Save Mart is advertising a 3-day sale (Fri-Sun) with Rock Cornish game hens for 99-cents a pound in the twin pack; ribs in the deli for $7.99 and blackberries for only 97-cents a carton.
In produce, Fresh Express salad kits are 2/$5; grape tomatoes are BOGO and cucumber or bell peppers are 69-cents each. Green onions are 59-cents a bunch and a 5-lb bag of Idaho potatoes is $2.50.
If you are ringing out the year with a party, Martinellis's sparkling cider is $2 a bottle; 12-packs of Dew, Pepsi or Diet Pepsi are 3/$9.99 and a package of Gallo salame is $4.49. 10-ounce packs of fresh Italian ravioli are 2/$6 and fresh shredded Italian cheeses are $2.99 a carton. In the deli, you can get everything from single-layer cakes for $9.99 to a 16-piece chicken dinner for $12.99.
Back page coupons include: Tyson bacon for $2.99; $1 off Alouette spreads; $8.99 Hormel party trays and 12-packs of 7-UP for $2.99.
Checking the year-over-year prices at Raley's we find one item that's not nearly as reasonable this year - London broil. Last New Year's it was $1.97lb; this year it's not even advertised. Instead, there's tri-tip roast for $3.67lb or rump roast for $2.99lb.Last year, Prospector's slow-cooked ribs in the deli were BOGO, this year they are $7.99 when you buy 2 or more. Last year Raley's Take-n-Bake pizza was 2/$10; this year a 16-inch pie is $6.99.
But lots of prices are the same. Mission Tortilla chips are $1.99 a bag; Martinelli's cider is $1.99 a bottle and Nabisco or Ritz crackers are $1.99 a box.
Here's what else we like at Raley's: BOGO berries; apples for 97-cents a pound; Iceberg lettuce for 67-cents a head; avocado for $1; green onions/radishes/cilantro for 50-cents each and lemons or limes 5/$1.
A 16-piece fried chicken bucket is $9.98; single serve desserts are 4/$10 and a case of Crystal Geyser Spring water is $3.28 (5-cents less than last year).
Going Italian for New Year's? Raley's pasta is 98-cents a bag; pasta sauce is $1.88 a jar and Focaccia bread in the deli is $2.49.
Lundberg rice chips are $1.50 a bag; sweet potato chips are $1.99 a bag and Kettle baked chips are $1.99 a bag, too.
We are ending our 2010 shopping with a final trip to Safeway, where the BOGO rules. For example, Pistachios, Campbell's chunky soups, Jennie-O ground turkey and Prego pasta sauce are all BOGO.
In the 2009-2010 comparison, Safeway also advertised London broil last year for $1.79lb. This year, you'll fork over $3.49lb. If you've got steak on the menu, it's better to go with petite top sirloin for $2.49lb. Last year, it was buy 3-12-packs of Dew or Pepsi for $9.99 and get two bags of Tostitos free. This year, it's buy 2 sodas, get 2 free and a bag of Doritos' too.
The one stand-out bargain: a 35-pack of Crystal Geyser Spring water for $3.99. In '09, we paid $3.99 for a case of Arrowhead.
Other stuff we like at Safeway: their own brand of sparkling cider for $1.79 a bottle; and 89-oz jug of Tropicana OJ for $4.99 and a coupon for Simply Lemonade for $1.99. In the bakery, a loaf of French bread is 99-cents and Safeway Select breads are $2 a loaf.
If you are having the gang over, but don't want to fuss, Signature Cafe chicken wings are $6.99; Nathan's beef franks are BOGO; Safeway party-size meals are $6.99 (with coupon) and the Friday only specials last until Saturday this week. For $5 you can get, a family-size pizza; Tony Roma's baby back ribs; Hillshire Farm Lit'l Smokies and a Party cake from the bakery.
Come back on Thursday for the best recipes from the 2010 Shop Cheap Kitchen.