Groceries – Where to Shop?

By Melissa Tosetti

I won’t drive cross-town to save $.10 on a can of corn, but I do find it worth my time to shop at two separate stores each week for my groceries and household supplies.

I start by going to Safeway to take advantage of their great sales.  I then alternate going to Costco and Trader Joe’s.

There are certain items at Trader Joe’s and certain items at Costco that we use on a regular basis, and that I just can’t get better prices anywhere else.  For example, Costco has the best price on eggs, meat, condiments and cheese.  Trader Joe’s has the best price on baking powder, whole wheat flour and cereal.

By alternating which stores I go to each week, I am able to stay stocked up and my grocery bill doesn’t spike every other month by making a big trip to Costco.

I recently ran across an article by Cameron Huddleston of Kiplinger, discussing the Best Buys at Warehouse Clubs, Grocers and Big-Box Stores.  If you’re trying to decide if it’s worth heading to Costco, Sam’s Club or Smart & Final, check it out.  Although it’s a few years old, the information still applies.

I love her advice about the giant box of strawberries you can get at warehouse stores for just a few dollars.  She talks about how they become a waste of money if you can’t eat them quickly enough before spoiling.  Instead, she suggests looking for fruit and vegetables on sale at the grocery store and buying just what you will use.

Just two weeks ago I had a similar conversation with a client in Seattle.  She was buying three different types of deli meat at Costco for her husband and two sons (they all had different preferences).  Although the price on the deli meat was great, she ended up having to throw half of it away because they couldn’t consume it all before spoiling.  She was easily throwing $15 – $30 away each month.

I suggested purchasing meat at Safeway’s deli counter where she could buy exactly how much she needed, eliminating the waste.

I heard a quote a long time ago that has always stuck with me.  The most expensive food is the food you throw away.  Very true!