When you are a stay at home mom married to a free-lance producer, your life becomes an exercise in frugality. It’s not all that fun, and not at all glamorous, but it’s completely necessary. You quickly find that food is a huge expense, one that seems very difficult to reduce. It seems a little more difficult when you are adamant that your family’s diet remain healthy.
But it’s do-able.
Last summer a friend of mine asked me to join her on a trip to Sharp Shopper, a local discount grocery chain. I remembered passing that store on my way to school a few years ago, and it didn’t look all that appealing. She told me that it had recently been renovated and that it was a pretty awesome place. We started taking monthly trips there with a few of our combined children in tow. We quickly discovered that between the two of us (me with my one kid and she with her 4) could completely fill my RAV4. We had the entire cargo area full – to the top – and the spaces under our kids’ feet packed.
One Sunday we showed up to find that they were closed. We decided to try Amelia’s Grocery Outlet as well, and we weren’t disappointed. While their prices aren’t quite as low as Sharp Shopper, they have some tremendous finds. Again, we walked out with a packed vehicle.
Between these two stores and joining a local CSA for our organic vegetables, I’ve been able to save $100-$150 per month on groceries. One month was especially good, and I saved $200! The downside to shopping at locations like this is that they don’t carry the same items all of the time. Sometimes we’ll find really great buys, stock up on them, and then find that they don’t carry them anymore. It’s frustrating, but it’s okay. No matter.
So this is what my cart looked like as I left SS last time. How much did I spend? $91.06
That’s right: $91.06 filled my cart.
What did I get for $91.06? Well, take a look.
Produce: a bunch of bananas, a pint of blueberries, a pound of strawberries, 3 limes, 2 pineapples, 3 large sweet potatoes, a pound of sweet Campari tomatoes, a large butternut squash, a pound of baby carrots, 5 pounds of large carrots, 4 plantains and a knob of ginger.
Frozen/refrigerated: 4 pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (my boys love it), 4 cups of Liberte yogurt, one pound organic hash browns, 5 boxes Lightlife Smart Strips (faux chicken), one box Lightlife Smart Deli faux deli meat, 2 tubes Pillsbury crescent rolls, 2 tubes Immaculate pretzel dough, and a bag of Alexa potato puffs.
Pantry Items: a box of Simply Fruit fruit twists, 2 large cans Classico tomato puree, 3 cans artichoke hearts, 3 cans black olives, 1 pack Pepperidge Farms deli flats, a bag of Mission tortilla chips, 2 bowls of Campbells soups, a container of paprika, 2 jars of Grey Poupon mustard, Lesser Evil Chia Crisps Crunchy Pickle chips, a pound of organic banana chips, a pound of raisins, 2 25 oz bottles organic olive oil, 2 bags Dole Apple Fruit Bites, 2 pound crystallized ginger, a case of organic applesauce GoGo Squeeze pounches, a loaf of Pepperidge Farm Ancient Grains bread, 2 bags Pup-Peroni sticks (for the dog, of course), 6 boxes organic oatmeal packets, and a loaf of Pepperidge Farms take-and-bake multi-grain bread.
Seriously, that’s a lot of food!
We still have to hit up the local Giant food store for some of the items we can’t get at the discount grocer, but it’s far, far less than before. I rarely see stuff that is past the expiration date, but I definitely recommend that you check. Sometimes stuff will be close, so I don’t buy a ton of it. If you live close to one of these stores, definitely check them out.