Frugal means getting the best quality for the best price, it does not mean "cheap". That philosophy follows me to the grocery store, where we aim for quality foods and reasonable prices purchased with relative ease. Convenience is far more important than spending time and gas to track down the lowest price or buying food that has a shelf-life long enough to see my 2nd and 3rd graders off to college. Quality, ease, and decent price, that is what is in my mind when we need to re-stock the fridge and cabinets.
Recently my go-to for shopping has been our local Hy-Vee. It is walkable (rarely do I have that kind of free time), bikeable, and on my driving route to both our gym as well as summer camp. Toss in a cafe where I can get a coffee fix and a postal window, and this place wins convenient hands down. Hy-vee's prices are not the lowest, but I use a few steps to make our dollars go as far as possible:
- Fuel savers card -- weekly promotions ad up on $0.05 cents off here and $0.10 off here. If you buy an item it is added to your fuel card at the point of purchase. Your cents accumulate and if you visit a participating gas station, those cents are deducted from each gallon of gas. Points do expire after 30 days. In the past few months the store ran some great promotions, such as $0.45 off a gallon with a $100 purchase. Ease for us to hit the $100 mark with a family of 4 and a preference for organic. On two separated occasions we earned $2.25 off per gallon. We basically filled up my car, and my spouse's for free....we did pay the gas tax that came to about $0.16 for nearly 30 gallons of gas;
- I shop on Wednesdays when I can because organic and "health" section items are 10% off;
- When applicable I use the store coupons that come in the mail. Today I used a $10 rebate card I received from a recent contact purchase; and
- At the register I use my Amazon credit card, which reimburses us 1% back (5% back for Amazon purchases). We let this built up all year and then request the rebate monies in January to deposit into our travel savings -- far easier to use than frequent flier miles, etc.
What is your secret to getting quality food for the best prices without spending hours traveling all around time? Our food budget is equal to our just higher than our mortgage, so if I can shave off some cost I'd be delighted. Leave a comment with any ideas!