I have a question… As someone that has just recently started cooking I often find myself at the store wondering if I am getting a good price on something. I know that you and other frugal shoppers often know in your head what a good price is and stock up when you see food that is under that price point. Would you be willing to share those price points with us? It would be really helpful for me to know when I’m getting a good deal and when I should pass.
Thanks for your question Emily!
For fresh produce, I have found that the prices vary greatly from region to region, and from season to season. Some years winter squash is priced at less than $.50/lb, and other years it doesn’t get below $.89/lb. The supply and demand of fresh produce causes a great deal of fluctuation in the prices from month to month and year to year. We eat seasonally and take advantage of as many of the sales and offers as possible.
For fresh meats, you can find my list of prices outlined in my “How to Spot a Great Price on Meat” post.
Also, I would say that it depends on what part of the country you live in...but I don’t think it really does. The only really exorbitantly priced foods I have come across are in NYC, but even there if you are looking closely and in the right places, you can score great deals on food! There may be other higher cost of living areas in the country, but for the most part the major chains compete with each other to drive costs down. (If you don’t believe me, you can read about the prices I found in a Safeway and farmer’s market when traveling to a wedding this past summer in Marin County, CA, just north of San Francisco.) (And Jessica from Life As Mom shared her observations about grocery prices in Southern California!)
My best advice would be to keep a close eye on the grocery store circulars…either get the newspaper or you can view them online for free! If you are really motivated to spend less, keep a price book for the ingredients that you buy on a regular basis. Update it as you see prices trending up or down throughout the year. After tracking prices for 3-6 months, you’ll start to see the sale cycles and you’ll get a better sense of when to stock up and when to wait to purchase.
What other advice do you have for Emily?! What has worked for you in keeping track of grocery prices?!