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groceries in cart

I looked at our credit card bill recently and said to my husband.

“If we stop feeding the kids, we will save a lot of money. This is all grocery bills.”

My husband was not at all open to the idea of not feeding our children. It’s so sad when people can’t think outside the box.

Instead we are trying to figure out how to spend less money on food. For many years I believed that you had to spend money to save money! But alas it turns out, you have to actually not spend money to save money.

There is a certain grocery store in our town that is like the grocery store mob chain. They are in practically every shopping plaza and have somehow prevented all other competing food stores from opening up.

They have great food, excellent customer service and with no competition, way too high prices. They seem to have lots of “Buy one, get one free” sales but somehow that just means I end up with 16 cans of hearts of palm and still a $4,000 (approximately) grocery bill.

But I am on a mission to find discounted food and I am willing to search from sea to shining sea to find it. Or you know, drive 20 minutes.

Unfortunately, I decide to go to a wholesale grocery store at 5 pm on a Sunday with 16 month old Cash in tow. There are several problems with this scenario. 5 pm at any grocery store on a Sunday is usually mad craziness. Plus, I was navigating an unknown store with a toddler at dinner time. (I always seem to suffer from passionate, misguided ambition.)

Despite discontent from my toddler Cash, I was doing a pretty good job of making him laugh by pretending to steal his pretzels while finding what I needed in the store. That’s the thing about buying in bulk – it’s just not that hard to spot a container of pretzels the size of an elephant.

But for some reason, I can’t find the dried seaweed. My kids love this stuff so I’m not leaving without it. Around and around I go but it’s nowhere. I ask a few employees who give me vacant looks and mumble something about only doing produce or meat or whatever. Apparently seaweed isn’t big enough to get its own guy.

Then I have the best idea! Ask a customer!! They’re the ones who know where everything is!

So I see this couple and say to them, “Hey, do you happen to know where the seaweed is? I can’t find it anywhere.”

And the guy responds in this not so nice tone, “In the ocean!”

And then his wife starts cackling ridiculously hard as if she’s married to Jimmy Fallon.

Now in my younger days, I would have had some kind of snappy come back for these insensitive clods who clearly weren’t understanding the desperation of my situation with a whiny toddler and the need for this seaweed that keeps all my children happy and I’m hoping healthy.

And I don’t really appreciate being mocked when I just drove three towns over to get some discounted food.

But I have softened in my years and realize that life is too short to get into a shouting match in the middle of bulk dry goods. I believe in peace, love and forgiveness. Plus you never know who might be carrying a weapon in South Florida so better to steer clear of the haters.

I just smile politely at this guy’s self declared comedic prowess and walk away. I did find my seaweed and everything else on the list.  Of course, the bill was huge. But you know what they say – you have to spend money to save money.

13 Responses to mission: bring down the grocery bill

  • Laura says:

    One word: Aldi. Bring a quarter (they make you rent your cart-simpler than it sounds) and your own bags. Great food, cheap prices. I can guarantee they don’t carry dried seaweed, though, so if that’s a deal-breaker for you, I’m out of suggestions.

  • How rude of that guy!! And how frustrating that no one in the store could help.

    As for saving money while grocery shopping – I have no tips there. I am really bad at it. My only tip: I do buy my chicken in bulk and cook it up all at once. I use some of it that night and then freeze the rest. Hopefully one of the trip to the grocery store doesn’t cost as much since I do not have to buy meat.

  • Suzanne says:

    Extreme couponing! Ever seen that show? I’m amazed by those shoppers. But you have to be okay with eating everything out of a can…

  • Michelle says:

    Not being familiar with the grocers in your area, I’m afraid I don’t have a lot of suggestions – but I am an Amazon junkie. It’s my understanding you can do pretty good on some of the bulk goods there – and I can say from experience there are great bargains there. It might help that I’ve worked in grocery stores and know the cost of things, so spotting a bargain is a little easier. Now that my kids are gone I can *afford* to actually stick to organic/non GMO/homemade stuff, which is great, but if you’re dedicated that way and you have one, Costco is outstanding at their line of organic goods.

  • what a jerk that guy was…. but it might be worse that all his wife could do was laugh. i mean isn’t there supposed to be a kinship between women or something?
    yeah, the groceries are getting out of hand. i feel like an old woman complaining about the cost of food, but really.
    good luck with bringing down your food bills… and wish me luck with mine. i need it!

  • Jordana says:

    I don’t know if that shot is actually of your cart, but I have found that buying fruit whole is usually more than 50% cheaper than buying the cut kind…for some reason they charge you a lot of money to cut it and scoop out those pesky seeds. BTW, didn’t know Costco (or whatever wholesale shop you went to) has seaweed- good tip – my girls love it too. Of course, we buy it in Chinatown where it is super cheap.

  • daphne says:

    I have the whole case of seaweed I bought the week my girls loved the stuff. Of course, that was then…if you just wait, their cravings will pass

  • Amanda says:

    I have given up trying to save. I mean a little here and there, sure, but with three kids and a penchant for avoiding junky stuff, I pay a lot.

    I’d just love to find a way to do it where I didn’t feel quite so much, “Wow, she’s back again,” from the clerks.

  • Pam roulequ says:

    Costco sells flats of dried seaweed. It super cheap in Canada so probably super duper cheap there. Good luck. BTW. I love your blog.

  • Tasha says:

    I just took a class last week on couponing. Learning to “stack” coupons against the store coupons and the Bogo (buy one, get one) However, the women that taught me spends three hours in the grocery store doing her shopping. Last trip she bought $425.00 of stuff, after her coupons it was $190.00. Not bad, but THREE hours in the store?! Btw, she has no children.

    Not sure how you are going to manage clipping coupons and get shopping done with your gaggle of children. Maybe now that you live in Florida, Im sure there is a place you can go out harvest your own seaweed?

  • Oh dear. I thought he was funny. But it was probably in the tone… I live in the good old R of SA and we have NOTHING healthy here!! Try find a liter of Rice Milk! Or Stevia. Or Safflower Oil… no one knows what I’m asking for.

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kelcey kintner