South Side Grocery Bargains – Week of Nov. 30-Dec. 6, 2011

Before we get to this week’s bargains, I wanted to give a shout out to a few of  my favorite blogs. I apologize in advance to everybody I left out. I plan on making this a regular feature, so hopefully everybody will get a mention at some point:

Mother Meets the Road — An opinionted New Orleans-based blogger who offers up recipes and advice with attitude. She describes herself as a cross between June Cleaver and Courtney Love.

The Tracey Show — Great recipes and great-looking photos from a great mom and talented cook.

Future World – Although not food-centric, this Providence-based writer always entertains with musings and comments about the places life takes him.

Frugal Feeding – A UK counterpart to Budget Cooking Blog, his writing style is always enjoyable and his recipes are always a joy.

Guapola — Probably the single funniest blogger I’ve found on the internet. One of the most original voices out there.

Okay, enough with the plugs. Let’s start saving some money!

In the produce section, Aldi’s has grapefruit for $.29/ea. Fresh Pick Market, at 8749 S. Ridgeland Av., in Oak Lawn, has McIntosh apples for $.69/lb. Both Freshline Foods, at 5355 W. 95th St., in Oak Lawn, and Cermak Produce have bananas for $.39/lb. At Pete’s Fresh Market, red delicious apples are $.38/lb, cantaloupe, Florida tangerines and d’Anjou pears are $.68/lb and avocados are only $.48/ea. And Tony’s Finer Foods, at 8630 S. Harlem Ave., in Bridgeview, has 6 oz packages of imported blackberries for $.79/ea.

Cermak has 5 lb bags of red potatoes for only $1.49. Fresh Pick has 1 lb bags of carrots for $.33. Freshline has eggplant and crisp pickles for $.79/lb. At Tony’s, Roma tomatoes and bok choy or Napa cabbage are $.39/lb and zucchini and yellow squash are $.49/lb. And Food 4 Less has chayote squash for only $.33/ea, perfect for your next Meat Free Monday.

In the meat department, Ultra Foods has chicken leg quarters for $.68/lb. Fresh Pick has whole grade A chickens for $.89/lb and bone-in chicken breasts for $.99/lb, the same price as Tony’s.

Pete’s has ground beef for $1.98/lb in the family pack, and ground turkey for $1.48/lb.

For at least the fourth week in a row, pork prices remain low. Fresh Pick has whole pork butt for $1.19/lb. Ultra has bone-in pork sirloin chops for $1.29/lb. F4L has pork shoulder butt roast for $1.58/lb.

In the grocery aisle, both Pete’s and Freshline have 5 oz cans of Bumble Bee chunk light tuna for $.49/ea. Tony’s has 8 oz cans of Goya tomato sauce for $.33/ea.

In the deli, Fresh Pick has Carolina turkey for $2.49/lb.

In the baking supplies aisle, Jewel has 5 lb sacks of Pillsbury flour for $1.99.

In the dairy case, Tony’s has Country Delight milk for $2.49/gallon and grade A jumbo eggs for $.99/dozen. Aldi’s has 8 oz packages of cream cheese or Neufchatel for $.89/ea.

In the bakery, Tony’s has 1.5 lb loaves of fresh baked Polish rye bread for $.69 and 8″ apple or Dutch apple pies for $2.50/ea. Jewel has house brand white or wheat bread for $.88/loaf.

For this week’s Bargain of the Week, we return to Ultra, where Palermo’s classic frozen pizza is only $1.66/ea, the lowest price I have ever seen. As a former omnivorous teenager with a pizza-centric diet, I can tell you that’s a great deal.

If you find a bargain while shopping, please share it in the comments section below. See you at the grocery store!


South Side Grocery Bargains – Week of Nov. 9-15, 2011

Before we get to this week’s grocery deals, I want to ask you a question.

Has the rapidly changing techology changed the way you prepare and cook a meal? It didn’t occur to me that it had until I saw this New York Times article proposing that cookbooks may be obsolete.

The article focuses on new smart phone apps that offer an endless supply of recipes and step-by-step video instructions on how to prepare just about anything. I don’t have these apps (yet) but it got me thinking about the way I cook.

Over the years, I have accumulated dozens of cookbooks that focus on all kinds of recipes — everything from the catch-alls like Betty Crocker to the specific, like Lebanese or Thai cooking. But I rarely look at any of them anymore.

Instead, if what I want to cook is not something I make all the time, I go to the internet to look up recipes. This worries me because it feels like I’m turning my back on all my trusted cookbook friends and instead going to strangers for help.

I’ll have to change my ways. At least until I can afford one of those cool smart phone apps!

Anyway, let’s start saving some money!

In the produce section, Cermak Produce has plum tomatoes and cauliflower both for $.49/lb. Food 4 Less has white onions for $.33/lb. Ultra Foods has California navel oranges for $.40/lb. Pete’s Produce Market has Mexican avocados for $.49/ea. Tony’s Finer Foods, at 8630 S. Harlem Ave., in Bridgeview, has green or red peppers for $.99/lb.

Fresh Pick Market, at 8749 S. Ridgeland Ave., in Oak Lawn, has broccoli crowns for $.69/lb, bananas for $.39/lb, cabbage for $.19./lb, carrots for $.33/lb and iceberg lettuce for $.69/ea.

The Florida citrus crop is in! Tony’s has Florida red grapefruit for $.49/lb; and Fresh Pick has tangerines for $.69/lb.

In the meat department, Pete’s has split chicken breasts in the family pack for $.98/lb; Tony’s has drumsticks for $.69/lb; Ultra has Perdue whole frying chickens for $.68/lb; and both Cermak and Fresh Pick have chicken leg quarters for $.59/lb.

F4L has beef shanks for $1.78/lb; and Tony’s has pork butt roast for $1.69/lb.

In the grocery aisle, Aldi’s has house brand stuffing mix for $.89/box. Both Pete’s and Freshline Foods, at 5355 W. 95th St., in Oak Lawn, have assorted Centrella canned vegetables for only $.44/ea.

In the baking supply aisle, Cermak has 5 lb sacks of all-purpose flour for $1.50 and 2 lb bags of powdered sugar for $2. Pete’s has a 4 lb sack of Domino sugar for $2.49. Ultra has Carnation evaporated milk for $.99/12 oz can.  And Tony’s has Red Star yeast 3-packs for $.99.

In the dairy section, Tony’s has Grade A large eggs for $.99/dozen. Aldi’s has house brand cream cheese or Neufchatel for $.89/package. F4L has 1 lb tubs of Kroger sour cream for just $1. And Cermak has Imperial margerine for $.79/lb.

In the frozen foods aisle, Freshline has Green Giant vegetables for $.99/bag.

In the deli, Freshline has Scott Petersen Braunschweiger for $1.99/lb. You know me and liver sausage!

Finally, for this week’s Bargain of the Week, it’s back to F4L, where a 5 lb sack of russet potatoes is only $.78, less than $.15/lb. Mashed potatoes, here we come!

On a sad note, Dominick’s is closing its Oak Lawn store. Although the prices there were always really high, I feel sorry for the nice people who worked there. They always made it an enjoyable place to shop.

If you see an outstanding grocery bargain, please share it in the comments section below. We’re all in this together. See you at the grocery store!

South Side Grocery Bargains – Week of Nov. 2-8, 2011

I found two troubling trends in the grocery stores this week.

The first I’ve mentioned before: Many manufacturers are keeping their prices the same, but reducing their package size. For example, soda pop is sold in 20-packs now instead of cases of 24 cans in an effort to fool the consumer into thinking prices are stable.

In the same vein, many grocery stores now advertise their deli meats and cheese by the half pound price, rather than by the pound. For example, Jewel this week advertised Sara Lee turkey breast for $3.49 per half pound. Folks, that’s nearly $7/lb for turkey! Jewel is not the only offender, but to me that’s just shameful.

The second thing bothering me is that most meat departments now offer pork neck bones as a featured sale item — Pete’s Fresh Market has them for $.98/lb, for example. There was a time, not very long ago, when neck bones were talked about as something people ate back in the old country or during the Depression. Now, almost everybody is advertising them.

Sign of the times, I suppose.

Okay, enough with the worrying! Let’s start saving some money!

In the produce section, Cermak Produce Market has broccoli for $.69/lb, and jumbo white onions for $.49/lb. Over at Pete’s Produce, Fuji apples are $.68/lb, celery is $.68/ea, and red peppers are $.33/ea. Food 4 Less has collard, mustard or turnip greens for $.58. You can use them to make these delicious soul food favorites!

Tony’s Finer Foods, at 8630 S. Harlem Ave, in Bridgeview, has Napa cabbage for $.29/lb, and fresh strawberries for $.88/lb. Now that’s an unexpected surprise in November! Both Tony’s and Fresh Pick Market, at 8749 S. Ridgeland Ave., in Oak Lawn, have zucchini for $.49/lb. Tony’s also has yellow squash at the same price. We’ve burned through all our garden squash, have you?

Fresh Pick also has cabbage for $.19/lb, and Russet potatoes for $.18/lb, perfect for making these loaded twice-baked potatoes. They also have grapefruit for $.40/lb, and Ultra Foods has bananas for $.38/lb.

In the meat department, Aldi’s has Tyson fresh split chicken breasts for $.89/lb, Fresh Pick Market has whole chickens for $.79/lb, and Pete’s has chicken thighs for $.68/lb.

Pork prices continue to be lower. Freshline Foods, at 5355 W. 95th St., in Oak Lawn,  has pork loin country style ribs for $1.99/lb, and Tony’s has sirloin pork roast for the same price.

In the grocery aisle, Pete’s has Progresso soups for $.89/can, a good price for a brand name. Aldi’s has generic cream of chicken or mushroom soup for $.69/can. Ultra has 16.3 oz jars of Peter Pan peanut butter for $1.39/ea, and select Libby’s vegetables for $.38/can, a very good deal.

32 oz bottles of Powerade are on sale at Pete’s for $.66/ea, and Tony’s has 12-packs of Coke products for $3.33/ea.

Baking season is upon us! Both Freshline and Pete’s have 5 lb sacks of all-purpose flour for $1.49. Also at Freshline, 4 lb bags of sugar are only $1.99. And at Dollar General, I found cans of cranberry sauce, pumpkin and evaporated milk for just $1.

In the dairy section, Tony’s has butter for $1.99/lb. Maybe not quite a stock up price, but getting closer. Aldi’s has cream cheese or neufchatel for $.89/ea. Fresh Pick Market has gallons of milk for $2.25, still high but the best price I could find.

In the deli, Cermak has American cheese for $2.49/lb, not a great price but better than anywhere else I could find.

In the bakery, Tony’s has 1 lb loaves of Polish rye bread for $.49/ea. They have to be losing money on it at that price.

In the frozen foods aisle, Freshline has Birds Eye vegetables for $.79/ea.

And this week’s Bargain of the Week is a tie: $.49 will buy you an avocado at Cermak Produce, or a pomegranate at Aldi’s.

Remember, if you find a fantastic deal while grocery shopping, share it in the comments section below. We all need to take care of each other during these rough economic times!

South Side Grocery Bargains — Week of Oct. 19-23, 2011

I don’t believe everything I read on the Internet, but a little fact-checking determined that this article which claims that child slave labor is used in the production of some Halloween candy may be true.

About 80 percent of the world’s cocoa comes from West Africa, where human rights activists claim more than 284,000 children work in cocoa farms under hazardous conditions, many of whom were torn from their families and sold into slavery, according to the article.

Even if this is only partially true, I’m reluctant to pass out chocolate candies this year. As the author notes, there are fair trade chocolate candies available, and non-chocolate alternatives as well. I personally don’t eat a lot of chocolate, but I’ll definitely be keeping away until I’m convinced the big candy manufacturers are taking this issue seriously.

I’ll get off my soap box now. Let’s start saving some money!

In produce, Pete’s Fresh Market has bananas for $.28/lb, Mexican avocados for $.48/ea, and green cabbage for $.18/head. Ultra Foods has red seedless grapes for $.68/lb, which is much cheaper than it has been.

Cermak Produce has California plums, zucchini, tomatillos, and Florida juice oranges all for $.49/lb. Cermak also has carrots for $.25/lb. Fresh Pick Market has artichokes for $.50/ea.

There are lots of grapefruit specials right now. The crop must have just come in. The best bargain I found was $.20/ea at Pete’s. At Tony’s, a 5 lb bag is just $2.50.

In the meat department, Pete’s has whole chickens for $.68/lb, and boneless skinless chicken breasts for $1.48/lb.

Pork prices have come down this week. At Freshline Foods, loin end pork roast is $1.49/lb. At Tony’s Finer Foods, pork shoulder country ribs are $1.49/lb. And at Cermak, pork spare ribs are $1.99/lb.

Have I ever told you about the deli department at Cermak Produce, at 7220 S. Cicero Ave., in Bedford Park? There are always great bargains there, the service is friendly and efficient, and it’s never packed. It’s my favorite deli. This week, they have Old Tyme regular bologna for $.98/lb.

In the grocery aisle, Ultra Foods has Home Pride or Wonder Bread for only $.88/loaf, Armour Small Lunchmakers for $1/ea, and Prince Pastas for $1/box. Food 4 Less has Maruchan Ramen noodles for $.20/ea, Kroger canned vegetables for $.58/can, and Chef Boy-Ar-Dee pastas for $1/can.

Freshline Foods has Campbell’s chicken noodle or tomato soup for only $.59/can. Jewel has College Inn broths for $1/14.5 oz can.

Get ready for baking season. Pete’s has Domino sugar for $2.38/4 lb bag. Tony’s has Ceresota unbleached flour for $2.49/5 lb bag. And Menard’s has chocolate chip, butterscotch or vanilla baking chips for $1.50/12 oz bag. I’m always delighted when I find food bargains at Menard’s. It’s a hardware store, for goodness sake!

In the dairy section, Pete’s has a dozen large eggs for $.98 and Prairie Farms milk for $1.98./gal. F4L has Kroger butter for $2.69/lb, and Kroger sour cream for $1/1 lb tub.

In the frozen foods section, Ultra has Flav-R-Pac Frozen Vegetables for $.89/1 pound bag.

Finally, for this week’s Bargain of the Week we return to Tony’s, where 32 oz Powerade is only $.59/each. I’ll have to stock up for the gym at that price!

Will you do me a favor? If you see a great bargain, will you share it with everybody in the comments section below? I would love for this to become a community where folks can go to one place to find the best prices!

See you at the grocery store!

South Side Grocery Bargains, Week of Oct. 12-18, 2011

Before we get to this week’s best bargains, I wanted to point out this op-ed peice by New York Times food writer Mark Bittman.

Normally, the food writer is among the least politically outspoken people in any newsroom. But Bittman is not shy about expressing his support for the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators and his disgust with some of their critics. Whichever way you come down on this issue, it makes for some interesting reading.

On another note: For 40 years, I’ve been throwing away those junk mail Valuepak coupon envelopes. But the sorry state of our economy has forced me to reconsider every aspect of our spending. And guess what: There’s actually some really good deals in there, and it’s very localized as well.

Unlike the coupons in the Sunday papers, which seem to be targeted at a national audience, the Valuepak envelopes contain discounts from businesses in my neighborhood. It’s a pretty good deal. Check it out!

Another item: Has anybody else noticed how food prices, especially meat pricing, are creeping higher and higher? I’ve found that even the toughest, throw-away cuts of beef are priced at $2.49/lb and above. Scary.

Anyway, enough with my rant. Let’s start saving some money!

In the meat section, Cermak Produce has chicken leg quarters for $.59/lb. Fresh Pick Market has bone-in chicken breast for $.69/lb and whole chickens for $.79/lb. Freshline Foods has beef shanks for $1.99/lb, contrary to my ranting above.

In produce, Fresh Pick Market has green cabbage for only $.19/lb, bananas for $.29/lb, cauliflower for $.59/lb, and Romaine lettuce for only $.69/head. At Freshline Foods, broccoli crowns are only $.69/lb. Cermak Produce has celery for only $.39/lb and Hass avocados for $.33/ea.

Ultra Foods has iceberg lettuce for $.50/ea, limit 2.

Over at Pete’s Fresh Market, Bartlett pears, bosc pears, lemons or red delicious apples all for $.14/each. Also at Pete’s avocados are only $.58/each and pie pumpkins (the medium sized ones for cooking, not the larger ones for carving) are $.98/each. Meanwhile, at Tony’s Finer Foods, limes are only $.05/ea, and the carving pumpkins are $1.99/ea.

In the grocery aisle, Food 4 Less has Campbell’s chicken noodle or tomato soup for only $.60/can. At both Cermak and Freshline, 8 oz cans of tomato sauce are only $.33/ea. Cermak also has 15 oz cans of diced or stewed tomatoes for $.79/ea.

Tony’s has 20 lb bags of Riceland rice for $6.88, or $.34/lb. Cermak has El Gallito dry pastas for $.33/lb. And F4L has 4 lb bags of sugar for $2.25.

In the dairy department, F4L has Kroger yogurt for $.40/each.

Bachelors take note: In frozen foods, Tony’s has Jack’s 12″ pizzas for only $2/ea.

Finally, for this week’s Bargain of the Week we go to an unexpected place — Menard’s, which has a 24-pack of Microwave Popcorn for $3.99, or less than $.17/bag.

Join the growing community of bargain hunters. When in your travels you notice a great deal, share it in the comments section below. And make sure to subscribe to my blog so you can get the best prices at area grocery stores every week. It’s free and easy; just click on the button at the top.

Thanks for looking at my blog!

South Side Grocery Bargains — Week of Oct. 5-11, 2011

Before we look at this week’s local grocery bargains, let’s look at something that is no bargain — fast food.

Although many national fast food chains promote “value meals” or $1 menu items, the reality is that once you add on sodas, fries and other extras, you end up spending way too much on food that is way too bad for you.

Last month, the Slow Food USA organization — a proponent of healthy, sustainable food for everybody — issued its “$5 Challenge,” a call for consumers to “take back the value meal” and put together healthy and delicious meals for $5/person, which they say is what the average person spends on a single fast food meal. You can read about it here.

While I applaud the group’s efforts to shed light on how much money we waste on fast food, I think the $5/person target is way too high. If I had $20 to spend preparing dinner for four people, to me that would be a fortune!

Okay, enough ranting. Let’s start saving some money!

First, in produce, Tony’s Finer Foods has green or red bell peppers for only $.98/lb; Fresh Pick Market has bananas for only $.19/lb, iceberg lettuce for $.50/head and tomatoes for only $.39/lb. That’s practically the whole salad!

Pete’s Fresh Market has avocados for $.49/each, corn on the cob for $.19/ear, and grapefruits for $.68/lb. At Cermak Produce, limes are only a nickel each. When was the last time you saw that?

At Aldi’s, caramel apples are $.33/ea if you buy them in the 3-pack.

In the meat aisle, prices are definitely inching upward, as I predicted a couple of weeks ago. But you can still find whole chickens for $.88/lb at Pete’s. At Fresh Pick Market — 87th and Ridgeland in Oak Lawn — chicken leg quarters are $.59/lb, boneless skinless chicken breasts are $1.19/lb in the family pack, and pork butt roast — perfect for braising for tacos or tamales — is $.99/lb.

At Ultra Foods, pork spare ribs are only $1.68/lb, and Bar-S Jumbo Franks are $.58 for a 1 lb package. That’s a good price!

Tony’s has Ole Carolina bacon for $1.99/lb. Dominick’s has pork loin rib half slice for $1.49/lb if you use your Fresh Values card, which I always do.

In grocery, Food 4 Less has 24 packs of Pepsi products on sale for $5.98/ea. At Tony’s, assorted Racconto pastas are $.69/lb, definitely a stock up price. Pair that up with $.99 for a 24 oz jar of Rinaldi pasta sauce at Freshline Foods and you’ve got the $5 Challenge beat by a mile!

If you look in my spice cabinet, you’ll see I love buying dried spices in the 16 oz containers. Its what I used in restaurants and I like having plenty available when I cook — I hate to run out! That’s why I was pleased to see GFS Marketplace has assorted spices in the large containers for $4.99/ea.

Cermak has 5 lb sacks of all purpose flor for $1.50 and Pete’s has Violi EVOO for $3.33/liter, the best prices for these items I’ve seen in awhile.

Good deli deals are hard to come by this week. Ultra Foods has Hormel boiled ham for $.99/lb. Cermak has Polish ham for $2.99/lb. That’s about it.

In dairy, Fresh Pick has medium eggs for $.99/dozen, and F4L has Kroger yogurt for $.48/ea.

In the frozen aisle, Ultra still has the Palermo’s frozen pizzas for $2/each.

For this week’s Bargain of the Week, we return to Tony’s, where they are celebrating Columbus Day with my favorite, Italian cannoli, for $.50/each.

What bargains have you found out there? Share them with the community in the comments section below. See you at the grocery store!

South Side Grocery Bargains – Week of Sept. 28-Oct 4, 2011

Last week, I wrote about the growing popularity of dollar stores in our struggling economy. This week, I want to follow up on some of the best items to buy at the dollar store:

  • Cleaning products are the backbone of the dollar store business, according to industry experts. Because they buy close out and remnants, dollar stores often have name brands for 60 to 70 percent less than grocery chains.
  • Gift wrap is substantially less expensive at the dollar store. And buy early. National chains, even discount stores, will raise their prices right before the holidays, when consumer demand is highest.
  • Beauty products — including soap, shampoo and conditioners — can be found for less than half the price of other stores. And while you may not find expensive name brands, the quality is the same or better, experts say.
  • Kitchen gadgets are plentiful and at rock bottom prices at dollar stores. Stay away from the cheap-o items, but look for measuring cups, timers, graters and other items that will cost way more at mainstream stores.
  • Halloween candy and other bulk candy can be found for a much better value than the grocery stores. Let your kids pick out their own jumbo sized boxes of candy before taking them to the movies and you will save a fortune.

Speaking of great values, let’s start saving some money!

First, in produce, let me say that although Food 4 Less has cantaloupe on sale 3 for $5, you would have to be a really big fan of this fruit to buy it right now because of the listeria outbreak tied to cantaloupe that already has claimed at least 16 lives. Do yourself a favor and stay away from the cantaloupe for a while.

A better buy at F4L would be cabbage, which is $.25/head. Over at Freshline Foods, Romaine lettuce is $.99/lb. At Cermak Produce, both mangoes and avocados are $.59/each, so it’s a great time to make Mango Walnut Guacamole. Fresh Pick Market has iceberg lettuce for $.59/head, a pretty good price, and bananas for $.29/lb, a great price.

Tony’s Finer Foods has collard, mustard and turnip greens for only $.59/lb, which is perfect for these soul food specialties. Tony’s also still has sweet corn for $.25/ear, but it has to be the last local corn of the season, so hurry!

Speaking of the season ending, vendors at area Farmer’s Markets tell me next week or the week after will be the last until the spring, so make it count!

In the meat departmentreports that meat prices would be increasing are starting to be felt. Prices are up across the board. The best value I found was at Ultra Foods, where whole chickens are available for $.58/lb. At Jewel’s, chicken leg quarters are $.39/lb, but you have to buy a 10 lb bag. Who has room for that?! And Tony’s has ground beef for $1.88/lb if you buy 5 lbs or more, which is better than most places but still a bit pricey for me.

In the grocery aisle,  there are a couple of deals to get excited about. Jewel’s has their house brand pasta for $.88/lb. Pair that with the 24 oz house brand pasta sauce available at Freshline Foods for $1 and you’ve got dinner for 4 for $1.88. Not bad. Get a jump on holiday baking by picking up a 5 lb bag of unbleached all purpose flour for only $1.88 at Tony’s.

In the frozen section, Ultra Foods has Bird’s Eye vegetables for $.78/lb. And Tony’s has Palermo’s 12″ frozen pizzas for $1.83/each, although I can’t vouch for quality because I’ve never tried this brand. Might be good if you have onmiverous teenagers, though.

This week’s Bargain of the Week is at Ultra Foods, where an 8 lb bag of Idaho potatoes is only $.98. That’s only $.12/lb. You can’t afford not to buy at that price!

Have you found any great bargains out there? Why not share them in the comments section below? See you at the grocery store!

South Side Grocery Bargains — Week of Sept. 21-27, 2011

At the gym the other day, I watched Jim Kramer from the Mad Money TV program do a peice on the increasing popularity of dollar stores.

Dollar store stocks are on the rise because the struggling economy is forcing more and more consumers to seek out stripped down, rock bottom bargains.

That resonated with me because I visited a local dollar store this week for the first time since they were known as “five and dime” stores.

Bud, our new puppy

Bud, our new puppy

As readers of this blog may remember, we recently got a new puppy and, though he is a very good boy (good boy!), he is still prone to “accidents”. So I needed a can of Lysol.

I went to Food 4 Less, which usually is reasonably priced on most items. I was first shocked then angered to find they were charging $4.25 for a small can of Lysol. I mean, come on, that’s criminal!

So later I stopped by one of the many dollar stores in my area (and there certainly do seem to be a lot, once you start looking for them) and, sure enough, they had a comparable can of disinfectant — off brand, but so what? — for $1. And once I started looking around, I noticed a lot of other $1 items that I’ve been paying a lot more for at grocery stores.

So, Jim Kramer, you were right. Until the economy improves, the dollar store will be getting a lot more of my business.

Speaking of great values, let’s start saving some money!

In produce, there are a lot of $.10 sales this week. At Pete’s Fresh Market, a dime will get you Bartlett and Bosc pears, limes, plums, Idaho potatoes and Washington onions; and at Cermak Produce a dime will get you peaches, banana peppers, bananas, carrots and red potatoes.

Although this week I’ve had a lot of luck at Farmer’s Markets, other grocery store produce bargains include broccoli crowns for $.69/lb at Freshline Foods; iceberg lettuce is $.79/head and beets are $.33/lb at Tony’s Finer Foods; and cauliflower is only $.68/lb at Cermak.

There are a couple of good meat specials this week. Pete’s has whole chickens for $.78/lb; both Pete’s and Ultra Foods has bone-in chicken breasts for $.98/lb; and Tony’s has chicken leg quarters for $.49/lb in the family pack and chuck pot roast for $1.99/lb, which is perfect for this pot roast.

In dairy, Ultra has a dozen eggs for $.88; Tony’s has a gallon of milk for $2.49; Pete’s has Imperial margarine for $.88/lb; and Food 4 Less has Yoplait yogurt for $.50/ea.

There are a couple of good frozen bargains out there this week. At Tony’s 16 oz frozen vegetables are $.69/ea; and Ultra has Tony’s Pizza for only $2.00/ea, a good “buy and stock up” price.

In the bakery, Ultra has Butternut bread for $.88/loaf and fresh baked 16 oz white, wheat or French bread for $.58/ea.

Finally, in grocery, Cermak has La Preferida pinto beans for $.59/15 oz can; Pete’s has Del Monte vegetables and 15 oz Centrella tomato sauce for $.49/can; Ultra has 8 oz Kraft salad dressings and 18 oz Open Pit BBQ Sauce for $.88/ea; and Pete’s has General Mills cereals for $2/box.

And for this week’s Bargain of the Week, we return to Ultra, where you can stock up for school lunches with Armour Small Lunchmakers and 12 oz Oscar Mayer Bologna or Cotto Salami for only $.88/each.

Have you found any great bargains out there? Why not share them in the comments section below? See you at the grocery store!

Grocery Shopping Secrets – How to Avoid Overspending at the Checkout Line

Grocery stores are no longer the innocent corner markets set up by mom and pop. They are now highly complicated marketing machines designed to maximize profitability by drawing shoppers to the highest-profit items and hypnotizing them into reaching for products they don’t really need.

Here’s the top ten ways to improve your odds of overcoming the house advantage created
by sophisticated contemporary grocery store design:

10.   Leave the Kids Home –No matter how stern you want to be, it’s naturally difficult to say no to your child, especially if they start causing a scene. Avoid the drama by leaving them home, if possible. If you must bring them, give them something inexpensive right away – such as a box animal crackers or a juice box – to distract them until you can make your way the checkout counter.  But be careful, you will still have to run the gauntlet of the checkout line, where the most colorfully packaged, overpriced impulse items are right at kid grab level.

9.   Use a Hand Basket – If you’re planning to buy only a few items, reach for the hand basket rather than a shopping cart. You’ll force yourself to carry your purchases  throughout the store, discouraging you from adding items you don’t need. Big, empty shopping carts subconsciously trigger an impulse in shoppers to want to fill them up – which is why shopping carts seem to get bigger every year. If a store doesn’t offer hand baskets, let the manager know you’ll stop shopping there until they get them.

8.   Watch Out for Bells and Whistles – Are there flat screen TVs at the checkouts showing “cooking shows” that are really ads in disguise? Is the wine section elaborately decorated to look like a vineyard? All those extravagant extras are built into the price of your groceries.  Odds are, another store without the glitz will be less expensive.

7.   Read the Signs  – Most stores have “circulars”, or paper ad sheets, at the entrance. These are great for identifying sale items before you start shopping. While walking from your car to the door, make a point of reading any sale signs posted on the store’s windows. Usually, these are the store’s best values, loss leaders designed to lure passers by in from the street.

6.    Compare price/ounce – When comparing different brands of the same item, ignore any “sale” pricing and compare cost per ounce. Stores are legally required to post these below the sale price. You may need a calculator to figure this out and many stores discourage this comparison by making the print very small, so bring your reading glasses.  You’ll be surprised how often a sale is no bargain.

5.    Look for the generic – When it comes to canned or dry items, there’s usually a generic, or “packer brand”, alternative. In many cases, these come from the exact same production line as the name brand, but are less expensive because there are no marketing
and advertising expenses built into the cost of the item.

4.    Don’t shop hungry – It’s a physiological fact: People who have not eaten before going to the store are more likely to load up on unnecessary items. Make sure to eat a little
something so you are not at the mercy of low blood sugar or hunger pangs. Be strong! Your family is depending on you.

3.    Use Store Card – Many big chain stores now offer deep discounts on certain items to customers who use their loyalty cards, which also allow store owners to track your purchases and market directly to your preferences. But the costs of these discounts are
simply added to all the other items that are not discounted. Sign up for these free cards at the big chains, but try to buy only the discounted items. You usually will be able to find the non-discounted items on your list for less somewhere else.

2.   Zone Your List – Grocery stores are like casinos: The more time you spend in them, the more money you’ll spend. Remember, marketing experts work hard to convince you to buy their products. Minimize your exposure by zoning your grocery list for maximum efficiency – group produce with produce, canned goods with canned goods, etc. Also, spend less time shopping by going during the least busy hours  — after dinner or early in the morning, if possible. If you only shop weekend afternoons, odds are you’ll be stuck in an aisle longer and end up buying more items.

1.    Stick to your list – This is the most important rule: If it isn’t on the list, don’t buy it. Carefully create your shopping list before you set out, listing every item you need for the menus you have planned. Before you leave, double check to make sure you don’t already have any of these items. While shopping, if you are tempted to reach for an item not on your list, resist this temptation and make a note to come back for it another time. You’ll be surprised when you get home how much you really didn’t need that item.