Food Shopping Tips from Those Who Set Prices

Food prices are squeezing my family pretty hard, and I’m sure I’m not alone. It seems my standard midweek grocery run, which used to average around $30, has bumped up closer to $50 in the last year or so. I use the same techniques as we all have heard to control costs: I stock up on sale, rotate food in and out of the freezer regularly, and use up every scrap of everything I possibly can. Even things like fish bones or celery tops get saved and turned into stock or something similar. Still, perhaps there’s some new techniques I hadn’t considered for eating well on a budget.

Apparently, I’m not the only one with this idea. There’s a fascinating article in the NY Times about ways your grocer can help you get most of the bang for your buck.

Some of the tips seem a little questionable to me. For example, I don’t buy that many pre-assembled meals because I’d rather not pay a grocer for labor I believe I can perform better myself, and I’d rather control the ingredients in my food closely. (I believe these types of convenience foods aren’t really designed for somebody who makes her living in the culinary industry, although there’s nothing wrong with using them.) I personally like the challenge of using all the food I buy, and don’t mind thinking of ways to use those leftover bits and pieces in something new. To be fair, I buy my share of bagged salad. I am salad-lazy and detest going through the whole process of washing and drying salad greens every time I’m trying to convince myself to eat something healthy. So I do see the logic in this sort of suggestion.

The idea of grocery store tours is interesting. Have you gone on one and what did you think? I do buy store-label products at the supermarkets where I perceive they deliver on both quality and value–places like Harris Teeter, Costco’s Kirkland line and of course Wegman’s. At other places, like Giant and Safeway, I shy away from such products. The question, “What did you buy this week for your own pantry” is a great one I’m going to try to remember to ask at the supermarket over the coming months.

What do you do to eat well and save some pennies at the same time?

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