Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Shopping, Saving money

For the past two weeks I have been shopping at the local grocery store and visiting a produce market stand for our food.

In the past, I was shopping exclusively at Walmart and bringing in ads to price match. I always felt bad about doing that because I wasn't giving the local stores the business that they deserved to have it on sale.

Not only that but it was a huge pain to drag around all the sales papers. It caused me a great deal of stress at the checkout lane. Instead of being able to watch as each item was scanned to make sure they did it right. (Every time I go into Walmart for groceries, they ALWAYS charge me wrong on something. EVERY TIME! I would spend hours (literally- just ask hubby), shopping, and writing down how much things were to add in my cart later. Then when they'd ring it up, I'd have the amount memorized so I'd know if they were charging me right or not.

It also brought along a few nasty stares from shoppers who were annoyed that I couldn't find where in the ad that something was on sale because I was holding up the line. I would literally be covered in sweat by the time we got done because of all the stress I was feeling. This happened week after week. And on top of all that, to have the cashier look at me like I'm from another planet when I show her my reusable bags.

The reason we never shopped at all the local stores before was we were trying to save on gas, but decided it doesn't use that much more and it is so worth it! There are actually two local grocery stores but I shop at one of them more.

There is also a produce stand that we frequently go to. We try to do our grocery shopping in the early morning before it gets too hot and so far we have not been able to make it to the farmer's market due to their afternoon hours. (or their early hours on Saturdays because we don't go anywhere on Saturdays due to Nick's work)

Anyways, we love this particular produce stand because the veggies and fruit are grown without the use of chemicals. Their prices are a little higher than the farmer's market stand but there we do not know how it was grown. There are some people there we found out that simply get their items from trucks and then resell it. If I'm going to buy food from the farmer's market, I want to know that a local farmer grew it! I want freshness and flavor!

The other day, we stopped in at the local produce stand, and they were not there so we had to go to Walmart (this was before I started shopping locally) and picked up some corn. While the corn we got from Walmart was as sweet as the one from the local stand, it lacked flavor. The corn from the stand was juicy, and had the most intense flavor I have ever enjoyed. It tasted like corn was meant to. And knowing that it was GMO free made all the difference more!

So, back to my original story, I have found I can save more on groceries when I shop locally. Here's why. They have sales every week. The grocery store here has double coupons every day up to 50 cents. For the products I do buy name brand, this is a great help! I don't have to carry the sales ads in with me and point to each and every item that I buy. I don't have to worry about them not having it in stock, and if they don't, they'll give me a rain check. Which is sometimes nicer because I can stock up that way.

The produce selection is much nicer than Walmart. There is always someone willing to help me find what I need at the local store. Shopping for meals goes so much smoother there. I don't leave in a complete mess of stress!

Something I've been working on lately is creating a master list for meals/shopping. I will share about that later on. We enjoy some of the same foods week by week and I am excited about once I get this master list made that shopping will be more of a breeze than ever before! Knowing how much my groceries will cost each and every time will be a bonus! I have a grocery budget of $300 a month and I am constantly trying to find ways to make sure I spend less.

We eat less meat and more vegetables with every meal. I try to stay away from boxed or prepackaged foods as much as possible. I also try to buy foods without any High Fructose Corn Syrup in them.

I will add that some foods are more expensive when bought locally compared to Walmart, but I've found that they will eventually go on sale and when they do, that's when we'll enjoy them.

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