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Three Grocery Carts = $203.41

February 22, 2012

I know you are thinking that is not possible.  Well it is, assuming you live in a relatively close to a discount grocery store, which we do.  For us we have several that are within one hour of our house, sadly our favorite is the farthest away.  I am sure you are thinking, yeah if you want all expired items discount grocery stores are great.  Well that isn’t true either.  Mike and I have been discount grocery shopping for years.  The store we prefer is BB’s Grocery Outlet.  They have four locations and the closes one is about one hour away.  BB’s is a Amish discount grocery store.  They carry items that are near expiration, cans that are dented or items that are surplus.  Yes they do carry expired items as well, but I honestly find more in date than out of date items. They have generic brands to name brands.  Canned, boxed, fresh and frozen items.  There is a large variety of items.  If we lived close enough, I could almost do your weekly grocery shopping there.  I say almost, since when I am there, I do not see many meats.  Don’t get me wrong, they do carry some meats, but for my family I never see enough variety of them.  Then again I am not there weekly or sometimes even monthly.  Otherwise, I could plan my menu around their supply.  Some discount grocery stores will actually accept coupons, but BB’s does not.  Now if you have an Amelia’s Grocery Outlet near by they accept coupons.  Always call or ask during your first visit and read their policy.  Amelia’s only accepts certain coupons, but totally worth learning the policy.

Our last trip to BB’s was this past Friday.  When we left BB’s we had three carts full of things from cat food to can good to cleaning stuff and we only paid $203.41.  I wanted to take a picture of the three carts but my cell phone’s battery was dead.  I did manage to get one picture in while shopping.  It is of one full cart and for your viewing pleasure, here it is.  As you check out the picture, you are thinking, I would never buy so much juice.  I will explain why we did later.

Whats the trick of being able to shop at a discount grocery store?

  • You need to realize that just because it is dented or even past the sell by date, doesn’t mean there is something wrong with the food.  Thankfully, I do not need to do all the research to show you why this statement about the sell date is true.  Amelia’s Grocery Outlet lists this on their website.  (click here to read).  I personally have a rule of thumb on this.  I do my best to get stuff in date, but when I can’t and it is an amazing deal, I am willing to purchase can goods up to 1-2 months past the sell by date and dry goods up to 4-5 months.  Now I will only purchase if I know we will eat right away and I will always check these products prior to serving.  I will never stock pile items that are past the sell by date, since I can not guarantee when we will use it
  • So what if it is dented, assuming there is no hole in the can or box (or if there is, check to see if there is a hole in the bag inside the box) then the food is just fine.  Who cares what the package looks like.  Who looks in your cabinets?  Well not sure about you, but in our house typically it is only my husband and myself.  Even if the world looks in your cabinets, what does it matter if you can get your groceries for at least 50% off your local grocery store without clipping coupons, just think every dent is a penny or a nickel or a quarter or even a dollar in your bank account.
  • Do not be brand loyal.  I find you can find most name brands in these stores, but the same name brand isn’t always there.  It depends on the availability of what brands they carry.
  • Don’t be afraid to try other stores generic brands.  If you use your stores generic brand, why wouldn’t another store generic version be worth a try.  I would bet there is a good chance they are manufactured by the same companies.  If you are not sure, buy one can or box etc.. and try it.  Trust me if it is junk you will not lose much money.
  • Don’t be afraid to dig. Yes sometimes you need to dig through the shelves.  Now be respectful and keep the shelves neat and tidy.  Sometimes you will find an item that is past the sell by date in the front and the item in date in the back.  Can’t hurt to look.  Same goes with if you find the same items stocked in two places in the store, always double-check to see which is the better deal.  I have found that some stores stock the same product (maybe different brands) in different areas.  By doing this I have been able to trade a generic brand item for a name brand for the same price or cheaper.  Sometimes the name brands date is 1-2 months earlier, I just take that into account when buying.
  • When you see a good deal, do your best to not pass it up.  How many you buy will depend on how many of the items you will seriously use, how close you live to the store and how often your store stocks these items.  Since Mike and I live one hour away from BB’s we usually stock up on items we know we can use over the next couple of months.  Lastly remember it is only a good deal if you will seriously use it, so only buy items your family actually eats or use.
  • Learn what fresh items can be frozen to help them last well past the sell by date.  This is vital, remember how I said I would explain why I bought all that juice.  This is why, OJ and most fruit juice (if not all) can be frozen.  What the trick with freezing juice?  All you need to do is open and pour some out, about 8 ounces.  Now do not waste it, drink it or put it in a pitcher and use that for the current week.  Or if you empty manufactures juice container, just pour it in there (remember to leave space) and freeze it.  I personally don’t feel you need to wash the container out if you emptied the container and then filled it right away with the same kind of juice, that is just me.  Lunch meat and cheese can be frozen as well.  There is so much that can be frozen and it can save you money by buying items that are about to be expired and freezing them.
  • Learn when their trucks arrive.  I found that for BB’s, they are really stocked Friday evenings.  I am assuming they are preparing for the Saturday morning rush.   Maybe that isn’t your idea of an awesome Friday evening, but for us it is.  Silly I know, but if you are serious about saving money on groceries then it will be fun for you too.
  • If you are not local enough to do the majority of your weekly grocery shopping at a discount grocery store, then stockpile.  How do you how much to stockpile?  Well it depends on what it is, what the sell by date is and how often you can visit the store.  Please keep in mind what I like to call respectful discount grocery shopping rules: 1 – Do not empty the shelves unless there is less than 5 items on the shelf, especially when the store is busy.  2 – Be realistic on what your family will use prior to the sell by date or if you can freeze it.  3 – If you need to repack bulk packages or prepare packages for the freezer make sure you have time available that day or the next morning to do it.  4 – Make sure you have appropriate space for the items you are buying.  If they clutter your house, you will stop shopping there.  5 – Only buy the items you will normally would buy.  Don’t buy something just because it is a deal.
  • Watch the dates on the product.  This is very important.  Learn the safety of the sell by dates mentioned above and then shop with this information in mind.  I personally have found very little items that are bad following my rules on the dates.  I believe that the few items I have “wasted” money on, has been worth it in the over all scheme of savings.  It stinks to throw it away, I just remember that the overall savings on groceries has been effected minimally by the “wasted” money products.
  • Just be willing to try it for a few weeks or months.  How long you try discount grocery shopping will all depend on how often you go.  Once you give it a few times, review how much you saved.  Also take into account if you stockpiled anything, this can change your savings to look smaller, but in reality you should still be saving.  If you are serious about wanting to save money on groceries without coupons, you will have to be serious about discount grocery shopping.

Why do I discount grocery shop?  Well as you can guess it is to save money, but it is also called convenience .  Now you are wondering how is it convenience if you have to dig through the shelves or boxes?  Since I stockpile it, I find I have times I can shop my own stockpile and save even more money this way.  Or how about making recipes that are more expensive for a lot less money.  I love to try new recipes but sometimes the recipe is what I would call expensive.  It means it takes more than 10% of my grocery budget for one meal that is expensive.  If you are new to my blog, my budget is $60-65 a week.  If I can make a recipe that normally cost me 20% of my grocery budget (that would be  budget to make ($12-13) and I can make it for $6-6.50, then we not only get to try new meals, but it is reasonable cost wise.  Trust me it is easy to find a new recipe cost your grocery budget $12-13.  I made a recipe not that long ago and found it cost me $15.  I made the mistake of trying it when my stockpile was low, I will not do that again.

Below you will find pictures of our latest trip to BB’s with the pricing per item on them.  I know to some the quantity of specific items we purchased, may sound silly. Just remember we live one hour away and since we just received our income tax check, we planned on spending $200 at BB’s to stockpile.  As a woman serious about saving money on groceries, I have a game plan.  My game plan is to do two major discount grocery trips a year.  By major I mean two, $200 shopping trips.  Once in the spring and once in the fall.  Then try for spending no more than $30/week on items to complete recipes and for fresh produce.  This is not unreasonable for us since we have a local discount produce place and a farmers market right up the street from our house.  I can spend about $10-15 a week on fresh produce and we have more than enough.  Then there is summer and we plant our own garden, then will save us up to $10-15 week during the harvest times.  The balance of ($15-20) of my grocery budget should be enough to buy my non-stockpiled items, like Milk, sour cream, ricotta cheese and meats when low.  Remember the $30/week is an average. There will be weeks I spend more and weeks I can spend less.  If I can accomplish this it will save my family almost 50% of my annual grocery budget.  Since most of my health and beauty aides are free or stockpiled at the lowest possible out-of-pocket expense (thanks to coupons and the drug store games), I rarely spend much on them.

How much can I save by doing two or three major discount grocery shopping trips a year?

  • Budgeted spending: $65 a week (I will use the high side numbers) times 52 weeks a year = $3,380.00.
  • 2 major trips a year and $30/week: $200 x 2 = $400.  $30 x 52 weeks = $1,560.00  Add the two up and you get $1,960.00.  That is a $1,420.00 savings annually.
  • 3 major trips a year and $30/week: $200 x 3 = $600.  $30 x 52 weeks = $1,560.00.  Add the two up and you get $2,160.00.  That is a $1,220.00 savings annually.
  • If I spent $40/week instead of $30, the above annual savings number would only be lowered by $520/year.  Still means I could save our family at least $700 a year or $58.33 a month.  I personally think that is good money and worth my time.
Click the pictures below to enlarge and read pricing:  All the groceries in the below picture were purchased last Friday and before sell by date.  Most of the items are good until at least 2013.  There are some items like the bread and juice that is only good for a week or a month yet, I will be freezing those items.  
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