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Eat Well, Spend Less: Shopping by Region

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This month I’m participating in the Eat Well, Spend Less series with eight other bloggers. Each week we’ll be sharing tips from our own experiences to help you eat well on a budget.

Earlier this week, I shared how I shop for food since we live in the boonies. The rest of the Eat Well, Spend Less bloggers are each sharing what grocery shopping looks like for them as well, and it’s really fascinating to see the differences by preference and region:

Saving Money on Food in Southern California

From Jessica @ Life as Mom:

grocery shopping in California
source: Life as Mom

Six kids? Southern California cost of living? And a tight economy? They sound like incompatible circumstances, don’t they? Yet, we’re doing okay.

According to my records, our family spent $7700 on groceries last year, an average of $641 a month.That number includes diapers, paper goods, and toiletries.

We do have a separate “dining out” budget. Last year we spent $1800 on meals out, for a grand total of $9500 to eat. So, our total food costs average just under $800 a month for a family of 8.

Yes, I’m a numbers geek.

Read more about how Jessica saves in one of the priciest areas of the country…

How I Eat Well and Spend Less in Texas

From Alyssa @ Kingdom First Mom:

Growing up in Southern California, I never gave much thought to the cost of groceries. The cost of living was obviously high, but I had no comparison. We shopped liberally at Trader Joes, enjoying plenty of fresh produce and seafood. When our family moved to Texas in 2006, I had an epiphany.

I will never forget wandering into our huge Kroger for the first time and being absolutely in awe of the selection and prices. Under $2.00 for a loaf of bread? Milk for about the same? Grocery shopping suddenly got a whole lot more interesting. I quickly realized that produce was actually more expensive and less available, but the lower cost of living on basically everything else made up for that.

Texans definitely have an advantage when it comes to eating well for less. The challenge we face is making wise choices. Here in the DFW Metroplex, we have an overabundance of shopping venues. Everything’s bigger, right?

Read Alyssa’s take on the differences between Southern California and Texas…

My Money-Saving, Time-Saving, Healthy-Eating Method

From Tammy @ Tammy’s Recipes:

fudgy black bean brownies
source: Tammy’s Recipes

If you’re new here, welcome! I’m Tammy, I’m a Seattle transplant, and we love good food!

Money-saving. Time-saving. And healthy eating?! One of the goals of the Eat Well, Spend Less series has been to help you learn how to get the best from your grocery budget, your family dinners, and your time investment…

…because I don’t know anyone who has limitless time or money to spend in the kitchen or in the grocery store aisle! But we all want to eat good healthy food, right?

So in this post, I’m going to tell you what works for our family. In short, we:

  • Eat affordable + nutritious (or “whole”) foods.
  • Shop at 1-2 stores.
  • Plan for healthy eating, even during busy or stressful times.

Get a glimpse into Tammy’s methods at Tammy’s Recipes…

Simple Bites Goes Shopping {in Canada}

From Aimee @ Simple Bites:

shopping the markets
source: Simple Bites

Now, what I am about to divulge might shake things up a little: I don’t use coupons. Go ahead, wag your finger, but just don’t stop reading!

Yes, coupons might be the first trick that comes to mind when contemplating ways to save money while stocking the fridge, but then one would have to shop at the supermarket to use those coupons. On a usual shopping outing, the supermarket is the last stop of the day – and I often don’t even need to stop.

So where do I buy our groceries? Let’s take a little city tour, shall we?

As a resident of one of the top cities in the North American food scene, I am fortunate to have a wealth of ingredients at my fingertips. Spices from a top quality spice merchant, local cheeses, apples by the bushel, and, of course, pure maple syrup are just a few of the choice local ingredients that reside in my pantry.

Because I have options for shopping, I don’t have to stick to the supermarket. Quite the contrary, in fact.  Sitting down to write this post really made me realize how much I jet all over town (and country) to get what I need.

I am convinced, however, that the savings I make when purchasing from the source, far outweigh the time (and gas) spent in seeking the items out. Not to mention the selection offered is wider and the quality of the ingredient are generally much better.

Here is a breakdown of eight places we go to get our food in a typical month.

Read more about Aimee’s selective shopping method in an area with so much to offer…

How I Shop 10+ Stores

From Carrie @ Denver Bargains:

In my first post in the Eat Well, Spend Less series, I encouraged you to shop at all the stores in your area. Today, I’m going to show you a little bit more what I mean by that, and get into the nitty gritty of how I shop at all the stores in our area to get the best deals.

Colorado is probably not the place that would initially come to mind when you think of places to get great grocery deals. Yes, we do have a lot of great local producers of beef, dairy, produce, and more, but we’re not exactly famous for a fabulous growing season or other amazing agricultural conditions.

For whatever reason, though, we do seem to have a lot of grocery stores that are fairly competitive with each other, in my opinion. The only other two places I’ve ever lived seemed to have fewer grocery stores, and not nearly as many different chains competing with each other.

Food Sources in Michigan and the Midwest

From Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship:

salsa canning
source: Kitchen Stewardship

People seem to love knowing what others spend, don’t they? Whether it’s to assure yourself that you’re doing okay, compare and wonder what the other person knows that you don’t, or just to have a peek into someone else’s life, it’s amazing what a hot topic budgets can be, especially grocery budgets.

I’ve often been asked to share my family’s grocery budget.

I never have, because quite honestly, I’m a backwards budgeter. I have always spent as little as possible, then entered receipts into a tracking program at the end of the month, and it always stayed in the black. I knew what my monthly budget should be in each category, and if I overdid it one month, I knew to settle down the next.

First I want to share some tips with you about utilizing your location to the benefit of your food budget.

I live in Michigan, where we have all four seasons, sometimes three in one day. If you’re in the Midwest as well, I hope there are some tips here to inspire you; if not, do take away some ideas for poking around your own community to find the secret deals and the food gems hidden there.

Read more about how Katie  makes the most of her seasons to eat well and spend less…

Eat Well, Spend Less: How I Shop to Save

From Katie @ goodLife {Eats}:

local shopping tips
source: goodLife {eats}

How I shop for groceries is probably a little different than the average person just by the nature of being a food blogger. I’m constantly preparing new foods, doing a little recipe development and research, plus feeding my family. I can’t always “shop the sales” when I need an ingredient, but I can shop for my groceries at the places that give me the best bargain – both monetarily and time.

I used to stop at several different stores: Sunflower Market, Smith’s, Costco, and one or two more if I was in the right area. I’d shop around for the best deals on groceries based on the weekly ads. If organic milk was on a super sale at another store then I would go out of my way to purchase it there.

Now that I am essentially a “working mom,” I’ve realized how precious my time is. I don’t even want to spend an extra minute at the grocery store if I don’t have to.

I like getting those errands done as fast as possible so I can complete my weekly work as fast as possible – that’s not to say that I don’t enjoy my work, but I want to be there (physically, mentally, and emotionally) when my kids are there. And I won’t lie, it’s a struggle!

So rather than jet from store to store I stick to two stores now: Smith’s (regular grocery) and Costco. There are both exactly on my way home from taking the kids to school and within 2 minutes of each other so I don’t even have to go out of my way to get there.

Read Katie’s smart shopping dos and don’ts at goodLife {Eats}…

How does where you live affect your shopping habits?