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Too busy to clip coupons? Wouldn't it be nice if you could just find those extra couple of hours? Say one hour to clip and an extra two hours in the store trying to match up the coupons with what's on sale. But many of us simply don't have any time to spare.  Does that mean we are doomed to high prices?  Nope.  You can buy cheap groceries without using manufacturers coupons.

I've got a system that should drastically cut down on the amount of time and effort you would need to spend collecting coupons. It  won't require you to shop at ten different grocery stores and will help you score good deals on nearly everything you buy.  Will you save as much as the intrepid coupon hunters who know how to get the face value of the manufacturer's coupon tripled by searching for retail outlets that have that item on sale?  Nope. But trust me, you'll be getting some crazy deals.

First, you need to understand which stores have the cheapest prices on which items.  Lets take three very different stores in my area: Target, Vons, and Trader Joes.  Everyone knows Target. Vons is owned by the same company that owns Safeway. In the Midwest, if you're shopping at Dominicks - it's just another Safeway in drag. Same thing goes at Genuardi's in the Northeast. They're just marketing brands - but they're all owned and operated by the same conglomerate. The important thing to understand is that these stores all use the same supply chain and offer up pretty much the same value for your grocery dollar.

Trader Joe's is a specialty store that has its own brand for virtually everything.  Which one's the cheapest?  They all are depending on what you're buying.  If you are buying frozen waffles, Target has will invariably have the lowest price.  Good bagels and cream cheese, Trader Joe's is your best bet.  What about organic eggs, Trader Joe's blows them away.  Meat or fruit or fresh orange juice, that would be Von's weekly sale.  So if you're willing to invest a little time doing a little research and don't mind making a few trips to these stores to understand which ones have the price advantage on certain items, you'll be getting bargains all the time. Once you figure it out, you get used to it and it will become second nature. From there, it all becomes a question of sticking to your newly acquired grocery shopping habits.

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KSK |2010-06-11 04:38:38
For nuts I was surprised to find that WalMart beat TJs. None of these stores cant complete on economies of scale with WM, for good and bad, and some of their produce isn't that bad, either.
gefingerpoken |2010-05-16 21:51:12
I agree with TJ's for milk, eggs, etc. When the dairy is their own brand, it's definitely cheaper than the supermarket. Also a great deal? The nuts. I would not dream of buying almonds and cashews at the supermarket, because at TJ's you get more of them for a lot less money.
thirdculturekid |2009-10-19 21:40:36
Thanks for an excellent article! I only discovered Trader Joe's recently (had heard of it but had never gone in), and you're right, the prices are phenomenal on some things!
cheaparse  - Food for "free" |2009-10-19 21:24:01
Ultimate cheap-arse grocery tip? Feed the kids with samples at Costco...haha.
Omiewon  - The Kids, how do you think I got through grad scho |2009-10-19 21:46:03
Once you have kids, its impossible to go in that zoo, but when we were in grad school sans kids, I remember getting quite a bit of that free food. Trader Joe's has free food but I think it would look a little odd hitting up the same spot 6 or 7 times in a shopping trip. I have made 2 on occasion when what they had was really good.
When I have gone to Whole "Paycheck" Foods, they have quite a selection of free goodies but my wallet screams for mercy if I enter that place.
lakeview  - stores like costco can provide more value too |2009-10-19 13:55:57
Alos, the nice thing about big box stores like Costco, is that the quality has to be tops since you have to buy in bulk. Thanks.
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