One of my goals for 2017 is to lower my grocery bill. Because my kids and I have multiple food intolerances, namely to gluten, dairy, and beans, and because we try to eat organic as much as possible as well as grass-fed or pasture raised meat, our grocery bill can be very expensive.
However, I know our monthly grocery expense can be a lot cheaper than it is now.
The last few weeks I’ve been reading blog posts and watching YouTube videos about lowering the grocery bill. One strategy that intrigued me was visiting a discount grocery store.
We happen to have a discount grocery store about 30 minutes from us, so when I was running an errand nearby, I stopped in. Here’s what I discovered:
There Is A Lot Of Processed Food At Discount Grocery Stores
Almost the entire store was filled with processed foods. I did not see any fresh vegetables or fruit. There was a small freezer case with processed frozen foods and some frozen meat.
While a discount grocery store may be able to round out some of your grocery needs, it definitely shouldn’t fill all of your grocery needs, especially if you want a healthy, well-rounded diet.
Many Of The Items Are Older Than The Recommended Sell By Date
My kids love Enjoy Life cookies, but at $3.50 or more per box, we don’t get them often. My son was excited to see that Enjoy Life cookies were just 50 cents a box at the discount grocery store. However, they were two months passed the best by date. We still got them, but I quickly learned to check the expiration date before considering any purchases.
My husband likes coffee and milk drinks. I found some for him priced at 3 for $1. However, one of them had a use by date of one year prior. No thanks.
You Can Find Items That Haven’t Expired Yet
Having said that, I did find some items that hadn’t expired yet. A gallon of milk was just $1.99, and it was 12 days until it reached the use by date. I also found some salad dressing for .50 that would not reach the use by date for another three months.
Take Your Time
If you visit a discount grocery store, take your time so you can check out the expiration dates. I don’t mind buying some items a month or two passed their best by date, but for most items, I would prefer to buy within the best by date. Shopping at the discount grocery store takes extra time to check all of the dates.
Look For A Specialty Section
I was pleasantly surprised to see that the discount grocery store I went to had a small gluten free section. Gluten free pasta, which normally sells for $3 or more per pound was available for .99 a pound. They had the Enjoy Life cookies that I mentioned as well as a large selection of other cookies, crackers, and snacks.
The Store May Not Be In The Best Neighborhood
The discount grocery store I visited was not located in a terrible location, but I have heard that many discount stores are in less than desirable neighborhoods. Use care depending on the location.
My experience at a discount store was eye opening. If we didn’t have so many food intolerances, I would probably have been able to buy more. However, when I’m in the area, I will stop by. The inventory changes frequently, and you never know what bargains you’ll find!
Having said that, if I had an Aldi near me, I think I’d just go there so I could have a more well-rounded grocery experience.
Have you shopped at a discount grocery store? If so, what was your experience?
I’ve tried Aldi and was not impressed by the prices or the selection. Then I tried a Fareway and have been going there since. They have every department that the high-priced stores do – plenty of fresh produce, a frozen section, packaged groceries and ethnic foods. Sometimes I find savings of $1-2 per item over my local Hy-Vee stores.
I have SaveaLots near me. They offer a great discount but it’s hard to find any brand names. I guess that’s why the discount is so good. I like the way they charge for the bags too – that’s the best way to get me to remember to bring my reusable bags.
Laura's Last Ditch Vintage Kitchenwares says
We have some salvage grocery stores near us. I also find that they mostly have processed food, but there are still good finds. I don’t care about expiration dates for the most part. I trust my nose and my eyes for packaged foods, and if it looks good and smells good, it is good. What I’ve found useful is, if I’m not sure about something, open it while you’re still there (and, of course, buy the one you open no matter what); this way, you avoid the potential error of buying too much of something that’s not all that good, or the equally bad error of not buying enough of something that is good, just to find that there’s no more of it when you go back.