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Best Value Grocery & Other Stores


FULLTIMEWANABE

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Things are progressing a little faster than we anticipated at our end, but all's good.

 

We are trying to formulate a realistic budget that will work for us on the road, whilst spending our time split between our homebase of Alberta Canada and the USA.

 

Here we typically shop at Canadian Superstore and Walmart for best overall value and selection of goods, versus Sobeys, Safeways or the Co-Op which generally are considerably more expensive for the "everyday" items. We are not typically Dollar store shoppers except when sourcing for a specific occasion or project due to time constraints whilst working, which when on the road won't be such a problem. Obviously we don't want to put $2 of gas in the vehicle driving around to several stores for our everyday items shop (typically done every 2 weeks), to save a $1 but would really value your input on where you shop for your items based on what part of the USA you are in. If you are kind enough to share your budget based on two adults for groceries, personal care and laundry per week/month etc that would be really helpful. Also whether you are typically home foodies or dine out a lot etc.

 

Understand that you typically eat the same as you did in the SnB's so likely to be the same or similar, but our situation will change from feeding 4 to just us two and we anticipate a huge saving in that regards. Although we will likely also try a shared local fare here and there for the experience. We are partial as well when out and about to trying a bakery item and a latte probably once or twice a week depending where we are.

 

Much appreciate your feedback so we can better calculate this line item, and research the various supermarkets/stores in the different parts of the USA. We are typically eat at home from scratch, as well home bakers, with occasional frozen pizza or small freezer prepped food when in a rush once in a while FWIW.

 

Anyway value your experience based on how you roll and any sharing of average costs, to complete the picture. Also are there specific discount days with particular stores and also any tips on electronic coupons/deals of the week/month.

 

Thanks again.

 

Helen.

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You will find different stores in different areas of the country, and you will shop at what is available wherever you are. We don't hang out around larger cities where there is a choice. We usually cook at home and for the two of us, spend around $300 per month. That does not include steaks, seafood or higher ticket items. We do occasionally buy some when on sale, but not a normal dinner item. We do eat well on the above amount.

 

For laundry I have found that cost varies also. It can range anywhere from $10.00 per week to $22.00 depending on the cost of the washers/dryers. I would typically have 5 normal size loads of clothes.

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Some tips, many have been discussed here, use Google to pull up the topics rather than the forum search as it works much better. Just put the following in your search field:

site:rvnetwork.com

Find the local papers and shop the sales, usually you'll only need one paper a week to get the sale info, what day that is varies by community.

 

Clip the coupons if any in the paper, check to see if any stores double coupons.

 

Check what stores price match, you can take your whole load of coupons to 50 different stores into Wal-Mart and they will take them all.

 

Don't assume a store that belongs to a chain has the same rules as one in your last state, several chains are either sharing a name or something. Look the same, brands might be a bit different, loyalty cards won't work, aggravating but worth sorting out.

 

Get the discount cards and loyalty cards offered, get a spare Gmail address to give them to keep your real mail uncluttered. Check the account for sale and more coupons before shopping.

 

Get the fuel discount cards you can.

 

Get a US based credit card or three that offer good rebates on stuff you'll use if you don't get a good deal on what you have.

 

Ask about senior discounts, 10% or more off if you shop the right days.

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If it helps, in the past 12 months we have spent roughly $4,600 on groceries and about $2,500 on dining out. We do eat out about twice a week.

 

We shop mostly at Walmart stores as we travel because they are available in most communities of 10,000 or more in nearly all parts of the country. In the Pacific Northwest, we shopped mostly at Fred Meyer stores, which are pretty much like a Walmart but are owned by Kroger. We also sometimes shop at Aldi stores. In most areas of the US, Kroger stores will give you a 10¢/gallon discount of gas or diesel for each $100 spent in the store each month. In Texas, Brookshires do that also.

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Walmart now has "savings Catcher". You put your receipt number in and it matches against all the stores in the area and gives you the best price. If you buy GV(Great Value, Walmart brand) it does not do the price match but you can tell them at the checkout that Kroger has milk for $ and they will adjust. We generally buy at Walmart for basics, not their meat, good meat is a bigger challenge.

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In the Pacific Northwest, we shopped mostly at Fred Meyer stores...are owned by Kroger...In most areas of the US, Kroger stores will give you a 10¢/gallon discount of gas or diesel for each $100 spent in the store each month.

Kroger owns Fred Meyer, Kroger, Ralphs, Dillons, Smith's, King Soopers, Fry's, QFC, City Market, Owen's, Jay C, Pay Less, Baker's, Gerbes, Scott's Food & Pharmacy, and Harris Teeter supermarkets and Kwik Shop, Loaf N' Jug, Quik Stop Markets, Tom Thumb Food Stores(AL & FL), Turkey Hill Minit Markets, and Smith's Express convenience stores. A card from any one of them is good at any and so are the fuel points which often makes their fuel stations a good deal especially if you have a fuel cashback credit card. I think Pen Federal Credit Union still has a card that gives 5% cash back on fuel all the time. American Express has a card that gives 6% cashback on groceries.

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Walmart now has "savings Catcher". You put your receipt number in and it matches against all the stores in the area and gives you the best price

Thanks as I forgot to mention that. Pam has an app for that on her phone and they are readily available from the app stores or if you don't have one, there is also a Walmart savings catcher website which can be used by entering your receipt number.

 

We actually buy a lot of what we need from Walmart because of the guarantee that they have and the fact that you can return a product you purchase at one store to any other store. That feature has caused us to become pretty loyal to them, along with the fact that if we wish we can then spend the night in their parking lot!

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On the west coast there is a fairly new chain of stores called "Grocery Outlet". The chain is growing pretty quickly and we have found - and shopped at - stores in several cities. Although, like anywhere, you have to have some idea of what prices are in the area, shopping at Grocery Outlet can save you significant money for groceries.

 

It appears that the premise of the stores are to sell lines that are discontinued, slightly damaged, over-produced, etc. And we have been burned a few times but not badly; I think the worst issue was that milk (in gallon containers) seemed to go "off" more quickly when bought there than at, say, Safeway. But, in general, we can save significantly by finding a Grocery Outlet store.

 

WDR

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We have a Grocery Outlet 1 mile from our house. There is only a couple of things we get there and that is not often. I don't care for their layout and how their food is sold. But I do like the area when you first walk in because it's full of gadgets and non- food stuff. We have found some nifty kitchen items and gifts in there.

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Wow, thanks everyone! In this day and age of increasing grocery costs, we will for sure check out Grocery Outlet in the areas (being alert to their sell by dates!). After posting I googled a bit and came up with Aldi and Winco as worth looking into, with Kroegers being generally expensive according to reviews! For sure I've been a Walmart shopper both sides of the border, but have found their fresh fruit and veggies and meat can be a very much hit and miss on grade quality. Thanks for the HEB recommendation Newt. Whilst we have concerns about some of Walmart's practices and policies behind the scenes, they, unless their hands are tied by ordinances, have given us many a $50 camping spot for the most part when enroute!

 

Don't get me wrong we will go to a recommended butchers or deli for some of our treats now and again and pay a premium for the taste and quality. We also don't buy any unbranded stuff that doesn't taste as good as the branded, but if we can source these items for less in one store over another, it keeps the gas tank that much fuller ;)

 

Publix when on vacation, I've found a pleasure to shop in but my bill has always been a lot higher there, just like Sobeys, Safeway and Co-Op here in Canada. Albertsons and Winn Dixie we've hit a couple of times in the past for a handful of bits but seem to recall finding their items a higher price for the same thing. Trader Joes Sarasota we found quite small on choice and highish on price I seem to recall.

 

Stanley, thank you for highlighting to me that different states the same store experiences may be different. I wouldn't have considered that until physically out there and wondered likely at the cash desk why a noticeable difference to the bottom line. I remember in the early 90's when we first emigrated to Ontario I was blown away by their milk being in a bag, came out west and it was in cartons. I'd left glass pint milk bottles behind in the UK before either.

 

As we won't be staying in one place initially for any longer than maybe a month maximum, albeit longer in the same state just moving around every week or so, it'll be a lot of trial and error no doubt at the front end. However, this thread has highlighted to me outside of Walmart that I should check out Winco's, Grocery Outlets, HEB's in Texas and maybe Aldi's.

 

We typically like to shop in one supermarket at one time (weekly/bi-weekly). We've found it costs us more $'s in gas, eye candies and frayed nerves, shuffling from store to store trying to get the one off best prices, so don't tend to do this, but stock up when something we use is on sale in a particular store (space/weight limitations allowing). We do however, try to catch the store on the 10% or 15% off days when we can and it makes sense.

 

We are going to budget about $600 a month initially, hoping to reduce this substantially with experience over time, and likely spending more time in one place after the initial excitement we've been warned of to "do it all" subsides somewhat. Does that sound realistic?

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Another thing to remember is that you may encounter communities where there are no chain grocery stores at all. This past summer we were near Hot Springs, SD and the nearest Walmart or chain grocery was either Chadron, NE or Rapid City, SD. In either case it was about 70 miles, one way. The community only has two grocery choices, Sonny's Super Foods or Lynn's Dakota Mart. But we still found our groceries and only visited the chains when we were going that way anyhow.

 

The point of this is that there is no need to always have one of those major chains nearby to spend time in a place. With the cost of fuels today it is difficult to save money shopping at Walmart over the local, home town grocery when that requires a 140 mile round trip. We still had a great summer and we ate pretty much the same as at home and the price was not as much greater as one might have expected. You will miss a great deal if you choose your stops by where the grocery chains are located.

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Personally I do no shopping at Walmart. Unless I absolutely have too. In the Midwest I use the Fareway Stores and a few HyVee. Further west it's Dillons and down south it's Winn Dixie. I try to use the regional and or the local Mom and Pop stores the most. When I can. I realize the Dillons is part of a huge conglomerate but it seems the local stores are locally owned. Not so with Wally World.

 

Rod.

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We are going to budget about $600 a month initially, hoping to reduce this substantially with experience over time, and likely spending more time in one place after the initial excitement we've been warned of to "do it all" subsides somewhat. Does that sound realistic?

Is this $600 just for groceries per month? If there are just two of you (and no teenage boys) I think this would do nicely. Perhaps even more than nicely. :D

 

WDR

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I don't buy much in the way of canned/boxed foods so most important to me in looking at a grocery store is how good is the produce and the discount chains don't have the quality and types of produce that I want to buy. Yes, we pay a little more on the West Coast using Safeway or Kroger chains, but since both have gas stations and offer 10¢ gallon off for each $100 in groceries purchased, it evens out. And both also have apps for smart phones that will offer you specials based upon your purchasing history - - often doubling or tripling the gas rewards points. Often have enough points when I fill up the car to get 50¢ or more per gallon off.

 

Haagens is expanding in the PNW - love their stores and their produce.

 

I agree - $600/month for groceries is a nice budget and you will find that you often have money left over.

 

Barb

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Went to the Winn Dixie today and picked up some fixings for Chili. My daughter might be having dinner with me tonight so I will be ready with one of her favorites, especially since there is supposed to be a cool front working it's way through today. That's not the story though. Bought most stuff on sale or with an increased fuel reward beans for the chilli were $.59 per can so I stocked up on them. Got a couple packs of shredded cheese to top it with and the bottle of wine with the 30 cent per gallon discount and a few apples.and onions. Not all that much stuff. MUCH to my surprise was what the cashier said my total was. $189.95. I said what and she repeated. I said there much be something wrong and she said No it's on the register. There were a bunch of people behind me so I swiped my card and when she gave me the receipt I found an item for $109.99 I told her that some thing was most certainly wrong and she directed me to the service counter. Come to find out I wasn't the first person the error occurred with and it made me wonder if someone who usually has a large weekly grocery bill would have caught the mistake??? Sure glad I did. Went ahead and bought a lottery ticket maybe it will really be my lucky day.

 

Rod

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We too pay a little more at Kroger but two old people don't buy all that much.

I do recall when my son was working part time at a Kroger when he was in high school

and they provided him with health insurance and he was paid a little better then the other local food stores.

We also have a friend that retired from Kroger and I was happy to see that they took better care of their employees.

It is my understanding that the have a labor union? So that would explain the higher pay and benefits.

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WDR & Barb Thank you, sounds as though the $600 is a good budget for us as a couple on the road, that tend to cook mainly from scratch. It's encouraging to hear that. No teenage boys joining us, raised two girls who'll be well in their mid 30's and late 20's and contributing well to society and the government needs. No grandchildren yet, and am sure when they do arrive hopefully one day, our whole world will be shaken upside down again!!

 

1Rod - I thought Winn Dixie was a higher priced store (LOL)!! You are so right in that most might not have picked up on it with a very large family shop. Much to the checkout girls tutting I always tell them to wait until I've finished loading so I can watch the goods going through on the screen or hubby will load and I'll watch if he with me. I've picked up tons of over charges on goods that way over the years, and it's been documented that this is where most over charges occur. Hope that lottery ticket comes in for you, allowing for the $110 rebate and stocking up a little, you'll need it with a chilli meal at home coming in at $70 to $80 for two ;). All joking aside, enjoy your meal with your daughter, family times are precious and should be treasured.

 

Seriously this feedback has been wonderful, it's clear that folks are shopping everywhere and finding it's generally all swings and roundabouts, so not being familiar with a set area isn't going to impact us too much. We now have a good idea on the deeper discount stores to keep an eye out for to hit once every other month to stock up for bulk items. We are looking forward to hitting local mom and pop stores here and there but our budget won't allow us to ever do the bulk of our shopping in them. My father had a grocery store when I was a child, which he struggled to keep a float for many years. When the big box chain came into town it was sadly cheaper for him to go down into the main town and buy their sugar and resell in his store than from his long time cash and carry supplier. Broke my heart to see the demise of these small corner stores over the years, but we all only have 'x' dollars to go around so it's hard to not shop in them when watching our budgets. Unfortunately, it takes more than just one or two folks willing to pay these elevated prices as they just can't compete with the big boys. Our children and grandchildren will never know what we are talking about sadly, or experience being chatted to by their names when doing their shopping :(

 

For us not buying much canned or boxed goods, the Walmart app hasn't saved us anything of significance thus far, but I saw one woman in front of me on Cattlemen Road Walmart hand her phone over to the cashier and it took off $52. Depending on how you shop there, I guess you can get some benefit with it?

 

I agree Kirk, it's a false economy to travel for groceries to any extent and we wouldn't do so. Having lived in the country for most of our lives, we have always bulk shopped every two or so weeks and not had the luxury of running to the corner store for anything forgotten = we are conditioned I guess you could say in that regards. We also don't like being hemmed in so we will likely be boon docking in the wilds for the most part, so we will only stop into supermarkets on our travels enroute generally and pick up an odd luxury item here and there in little towns we might explore. Appreciate we are restricted on space and weight compared to the SnB's but also there'll only be two of us now versus 4+ cooking for in the past. (can't find the happy dance icon!). Hmmm, same applies for laundry, cleaning and, and, and........ I'm liking that thought :lol:

 

Happy Tuesday everyone,

 

Helen.

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I don't line item food/household in the budget posts in my blog, but I can tell you that we budget $600 a month and have been able to live within that budget. As Barb mentioned the West Coast is a bit more costly than other places (especially California) but, unless you plan on staying there for the year, things will tend to average back down over time.

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Something a bit different you may consider is a $50.00 membership to Costco, a big discount warehouse store. Sure most things they sell are BIG or come in 20 packs but the prices are great if you find something you need and have room for, even better if you and friends can split an item with.

 

What makes it a better deal is that you can go into the store around lunchtime and wander around eating samples. I get a lunch there almost every week just off the sample carts and I can't eat gluten so a lot of them are not serving stuff I can eat. Never had a problem with multiple visits to the really good carts either. If I'm still hungry I can get one of their polish or hot dogs (no bun) and a big bottomless soda for $1.50. We used to love their big $10 pizza too until we got the bad news about our gluten issues.

 

We also have a Sam's Club membership but their sample offerings are a distant second compared to Costco.

 

http://www.costco.com/

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The large sizes can be an issue but when we save a couple bucks on canned beans or the like where the extras can live in storage for a while that isn't so bad. Their meats, usually of very good quality, are usually reasonably sized although the 12/13 pack of pork chops can be a bit too many. If we were in a really small or overloaded rig where a few dozen cans would be an issue we would have likely bought less during the summers when we were moving a lot.

 

We figured we were saving our $50 for the membership even with the little we bought, the samples and snack bar were just nice extras.

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