Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Shopping off your route

When you're in an area where you typically don't shop for groceries, it's a good idea to check around to see what other stores might be available in that area. Even if you don't make it a regular part of your shopping routine, you can still find some great one-time deals, or find out that a special trip to that area isn't worth your time.

How do you find new places to shop?

  • Check the local newspaper ads - in particular, if your paper has a food section, see if there are any smaller, non-chain grocery stores in that area.
  • Watch your mail for any free magazines or coupon envelopes - they may list other places.
  • Look through the Yellow Pages under "Grocery."
  • Do an internet search for the city you'll be in, along with the word "grocery."  Or check the main street name in the area where you'll be.
  • Ask friends and family in that area where they like to shop.
I practiced this tip when I made a trip to a craft store that isn't on my usual grocery shopping path. While there, I decided to make two other stops.

The first was to Big Lots, where I haven't been in years. But I was intrigued when I read about the great Big Lots deals that Kelly over at The Morris Tribe had found at her local store, including 40¢ for full-size boxes and bags of cereal.

My find?  The deals at my store were simply not as good as the ones she reported.  I found a few types of cereal priced at $1.20 and $1.50; otherwise, they weren't any better than grocery store sale prices.  I did buy two boxes of a cinnamon squares cereal; at $1.20 each, they were cheaper than buying them during Publix's BOGO sale of Cinnamon Toast Crunch with coupons.

So, I doubt that I will be making any special trips to the Big Lots.  Maybe I will try again in a few months and see what they have in stock, or watch for ads from them.

Then, I went to an Italian market in that area to look for cheap veggies.  There, I hit pay dirt.  Their prices on veggies were comparable to what I pay for veggies closer to home, but I found a metal cart full of discounted styrofoam trays of vegetables.  Here's what I got:

6 avocados @ 50¢ each
8 pickling cucumbers @ $1.00 total
20 or so multicolored mini peppers @ $1.29
4 red and yellow peppers @ $1.69

There were lots of other great deals there, too, but I imagined that the produce was pretty ripe, otherwise it wouldn't be on the discount shelf, now would it?  So I bought cautiously - I knew I'd be able to use what I bought over the next few days.

So next time you expect to be in a different locale, take some time and find some new places to try shopping.  You might find that you don't need to shop in that area - or that there are some great bargains that might be worth an extra trip now and then!

For more frugal tips, please check out the bloggers listed on the left sidebar under Frugal Tips Linkups. There are lots of great ideas on each blog and I'm sure you'll find lots of wonderful tips!
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Anonymous,  February 1, 2011 at 11:33 AM  

I find that you can add this tip of stopping in grocery stores to if your on a business trip or even on a vacation. Anytime we take a mini vaction I stop at any store that is convient and I have managed to get some major deals. Last January I got a Smithfield Ham one state over l2lbs and it only ran me $5.86 ! What a steal! When we go away for a longer vaction I don't normally stop , but if we have rainy days and everyone is looking for something to do then we try to find clearance at grocery stores. I keep a couple of styrofoam coolers so I can almost always take things home. This tip comes in handy when feeding 9 hungry growing people!

Kitty Deschanel February 1, 2011 at 1:34 PM  

Great advice! There is a small grocery store with just a few locations here in Albuquerque. Even though they're all out of my way, I check their online ad weekly and often find deals that are good enough to warrant a trip :)

Coupon Teacher February 3, 2011 at 4:43 PM  

It is always good to try a new store now and then, as long as you don't feel like you have to buy something!

Linda @ Linda's Lunacy February 3, 2011 at 11:47 PM  

Great tips.

We've lived in places where Big Lots has great deals, and now we live near one that doesn't. I miss the one with the good deals. :)

Linda @ Linda's Lunacy

Holly February 7, 2011 at 11:31 AM  

This is a good tip, and one that a lot of people probably don't think of. Before we got Trader Joe's in our city, I used to always visit TJ's and stock up when we were in Chicago. Maybe not strictly saving money, but their stuff is way cheaper than comparable organic, etc at other stores.
Always happy to have your entry to my party!

FrouFrouBritches February 7, 2011 at 4:59 PM  

Great tips. I NEVER think to stop and shop when I'm away from the usual places. Very smart!

Susan Evans February 7, 2011 at 7:09 PM  

Those were great prices for vegetables! Whenever I've gotten vegetables cheaply at an off-place, they've never been any good. But it's definitely a good idea to check around to see where you can find lower-priced foods that are actually fresh.

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