Grocery Shopping on a Third of the Normal Budget


(Purchased at a discount, scratch and dent, grocery store, $34.)

So, armed with a third of my normal grocery budget (for a span of two weeks, due to a temporary setback), my husband and I decided to utilize the local discount stores as much as possible.

The area where we live is an odd mix, economically. There are some, like our family, who are lucky enough to have a spouse/partner/head of household with a good job, and even though we have our rough patches financially, we survive.

And then there is the other end of the economic spectrum, where a significant portion of the area lives below the poverty level. It’s been bad enough to hit national news circuits.

The ONLY perk to this situation is that the area abounds with inexpensive produce via local farms (the area is rural), and there are scads of discount grocers and scratch and dent stores.

I absolutely love discount stores. I love second hand clothing, love clearance sales and closeouts, you name it. And, when money is tight, a scratch and dent store might be your saving grace; however, there are some tips to follow:

1) Some products might be past their “Best By” dates. That is different than a “Use By” date. “Best Buy” is a bit more like a helpful suggestion…the quality might go down after the printed date, but it still might be fine to eat. This is a matter of personal preference, really. If I plan on using it right away, or its something I can store still for a month or so, like a mix, then it doesn’t bother me. We buy gum, in three packs, for 10 cents because it is past its suggested date, and it’s just fine. However, I’m leery of things like flour when they are past their prime. It’s a matter of preference.

2) If you’re like me, and you like a certain food niche, like organic food, or if you need gluten free, for example, then a scratch and dent grocer might have what you need at a fraction of the cost. Look for these niche items first. I find loads of organic foods, eco friendly cleaning products, etc. A lot of times, they are still in date, but because they are geared toward a smaller market, they don’t sell as fast as a store wants, so they get sent to a closeout or discount store, and you can snag it for mere cents off of the retail cost.

3) I admit, this is a personal preference, but I recommend steering clear as much as you can from dented cans and smashed boxes, per food safety reasons.

4) Look for paper goods in stores like this. We find diapers with cute prints (when we need disposables) for a fraction of the cost. Diaper companies circulate prints quickly, feminine hygiene companies are constantly advertising something new, same with toilet paper. And when the “new” becomes old, it gets sent to the discount stores. And, let’s be honest, paper doesn’t expire. Why NOT buy it? You’ll save big here.

I went to two discount grocers today–and the photographed haul cost $34. Retail (this is an estimate based on past purchases) would be around $75, I would venture. Can’t beat it! With shopping at discount stores today, I spent $70 on everything we wanted for two weeks.

One thought on “Grocery Shopping on a Third of the Normal Budget

  1. I’m not sure how your 2 weeks went, I hope well!!! I wanted to recommend “Dining on A Dime” a cookbook that I often use to keep my grocery bills down. There are some great tips and recipes you can use to lower your food bill everyday.

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