Jul 6, 2008

Grocery shopping badass

It's not really what i ever though might be a source of pride, but I've become at least relatively adept at packing a small family's worth of groceries into a weekly budget of $85 for groceries and $10 for household needs. It's become extremely more difficult as of late as everything has increased in price. Here is a sample list:

Item                          old price                  new price
String Cheese                          $0.27 per                        $.050 per
Market Pantry Crystal Lite       $1.77 pack of 3              $2.99 pack of 3

Today, while shopping, I realized something that made me so excited and so disgusted at the same time.  It was as if i had figured out a secret equation that unlocked some hidden time warp or something.  On at least 3 occassions, i found a case of underhanded packaging and pricing techniques that undoubtedly rob 90% of the grocery shopping public out of more of their hard earned money.  It turns out that there are tons of savings throughout the store just hiding right under your nose!!!

Let me give you a couple of examples.  First off, i think it is a generally accepted understanding that the more you buy of something, the better price you get.  People buy "value packs" because, while there is more food (or whatever) in them than they currently need, the price is better in the long run.  A value pack of 2 boxes of cereal might be $4.50, while 1 single box of cereal is $3.25.  They only came for 1 box of cereal, but when they buy 2, that $3.25 cereal box goes down in price to $2.25 each.  This illustrates well enough the point I am making.  Now, to the example that illustrates that this is not always true.

Today I grabbed the cheapest 1lb. block of cheddar cheese I could find, Market Pantry (Kimberly and I have become partial to Target's generic brand because it actually tastes the same or better in most cases and is more reasonably priced... usually).  It was $5.94, which incidentally is up in price by well over a dollar.  Anyway, i moved on to other things, and swung back by the cheese case a little later only to notice the price of an 8oz. block of cheese was only $2.34.  I looked again, a little taken aback.  This goes completely against the theory that bigger is cheaper in the long run.  In this case, 2 small blocks of cheese would be cheaper than 1 big block... by a lot!

1lb. block of medium cheddar cheese:     $5.94
(2) 8oz. blk medium cheddar cheese:      $4.68
SAVINGS:                                            $1.26               HOLY COW!

Example number 2 is something I realized a couple months ago.  Toilet paper.  This is one of the most caniving examples of packaging confusion.  Kimberly and I are bargain people these days.  As long as our toilet paper is 2 ply and softer than sand paper, we're cool with it.  So, we've been getting a lot of Target brand TP.  I actually prefer it to Charmin.  But, here is the sneakiness of the whole game.  Take the 2 types of TP i was trying to decide between today:

  1. Target Ultra Premium TP, 2-ply, 12 rolls       $5.45
  2. Angel Soft Toilet Paper, 2-ply, 12 rolls          $5.75
I was going to grab the Target TP (that's 30 cents more for other things!) until i looked at the packaging:

  1. Target Ultra Premium TP, 12 rolls @ 300 sq. ft/roll
  2. Angel Soft Toilet Paper, 12 rolls @ 502 sq. ft/roll

Incidentally, here is what that works out to:

Target TP       = 15 cents/ 100 sq. ft
Angel Soft TP = 9 cents / 100 sq. ft


I found a couple of other deals, and examples of tricky packaging as well.  It's important to note that you are never really comparing apples to apples even when you are looking at two different brands of the same thing.  Everyone, i mean EVERYONE, is trying to make their product look better.  Pick of 2 different bags of kids chicken nuggets, one brand name and one generic. They'll be about the same price, but one will have a 1/4 pound less chicken in the bag.  You may be surprised which one is cheaper.  The same goes with cereal.  It may look like your cheerios are the same price as they've always been. They may even look cheaper!!!  But, if you look close you'll see that the amount of product in the box has shrunk substantially.  What used to 24oz., may now only be 14oz, or 16oz.

The moral of the story is that if you take your time, figure out who has what cheaper, and make ample time to spend at all the stores you need to, you can save a lot of money.  I'm not just talking about 1 or 2 dollars here.  By my count, i saved over $12 at the store today, just by paying attention.  That's 3 gallons of the gas you can't afford any longer either. 

1 comment:

  1. That's awesome! Thanks for the heads up; who can't afford to Save a few bucks these days?