"That they (the older women) admonish the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed." Titus 2:4-5

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Grocery Stores (NEO Edition)

I am writing this in response to a question I received about some grocery stores here in North East Ohio. So, I decided to do a very thorough job and add it to the beginner archives because I'll include some of the principles and mindsets I work from. Below are a list of the stores in my area and that I often go to. Please keep in mind, I am a stay at home mom with only one little one (right now!) and I have the time and energy to visit several stores each week. This may not be plausible for everyone and may even change for me in the future. Hope this helps!

Up until very recently, I was a die-hard Aldi's fan. I went there for just about everything, both my family's groceries as well as the stock for the Rock Cafe. However, I must admit now that Aldi's is not always the best option for me anymore. Actually, I rarely go. I've been noticing some serious price increases and fluctuations that can be hard to keep track of (at one time I knew almost all their prices by heart)! I only go to Aldi's now for certain staple items when I don't care the brand, it isn't on sale somewhere else or I know for certain is cheaper than anywhere else (like $0.99 cream cheese). I've never liked Aldi's for produce as it often goes bad very quickly for me, is poor quality or I can cheaper elsewhere. Aldi's manufacturer closeouts are ok, but they don't accept coupons, so I usually don't bother. Also, I don't usually see any mark downs on stuff like I do at Save-a-lot. Once, I got canned pumpkin for $0.25 at Save-a-Lot for clearance. I don't usually see that kind of clearance stuff at Aldi's

I used to dislike Save-a-lot a lot! It always had this grimy, sloppy, dirty feel to it I didn't like. However, we recently moved within a mile of one and this one isn't too bad. The store is often disorganized and still feels weird, but I go for certain items. I love when they have $0.19/lb bananas and cilantro for $0.50 a bunch. Their staple/boxed items are often about the same as Aldi's, if not a little better. Their "name brand" closeouts usually aren't worth it, but they do take manufacturer coupons, so.... sometimes. Only if it's a coupon that won't double elsewhere (like Giant Eagle) :) Overall, their produce isn't bad, but I have a better source...

I love going to Marc's for produce. Their produce sales can be outstanding (not so much this week) and their quality is as good as a normal grocery store. I knew a guy who worked there and he said Marc's stuff isn't any different than a normal grocery store really (except the closeouts) and you aren't getting stuff that fell off a truck. :) The Marc's near me has also been getting a great selection of organic produce, they always have wonderfully cheap organic salad mixes and they have reasonable herb prices. Occasionally, Marc's will have a great mark down or sale on meat, so I always check that too. I don't usually get staple/boxed stuff at Marc's unless I have a good coupon that won't double elsewhere or it is a brand specific thing I need.

I am not shy about voicing my general dislike for Walmart. I don't care much for their business practices and honestly, their everyday prices aren't that great. Also, the coupon match ups for Walmart I see on the internet are often WAY different than NEO prices and because Walmart doesn't put out a weekly grocery flier, I never know if they have a good sale going on something, it's very hit or miss. Therefore, I typically skip Walmart. I will occasionally go to Walmart if I have a stack of good coupons that won't double elsewhere, I have a good internet coupon (they take internet printables and I don't think they have an amount limit), or I need a brand specific item, like Whink Rust Remover (a miracle product for that yuckie orange stuff in the bathroom sinks and toilets!). I go to Walmart maybe every few weeks.

Drugstores (CVS, Walgreens, Rite-Aid)
Drugstores are amazing for free toiletries. If you have the time to do the rebates, sales and Register Rewards, I recommend never paying for certain items again (toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, conditioner, etc). Some items are harder (deodorant, toilet paper, etc) but you can still get great deals on them. I never buy these items at grocery stores anymore. Although drugstores can be overwhelming at first, once you get the hang of it, it's really quite easy. Just remember to watch and be careful- they like to pull some fast ones on you!

In general, I don't go to Acme. In my experience with the Acme's around here, it's usually not worth a trip. The deals are usually not fantastic and you can often find the same things about the same price or cheaper at Giant Eagle, Marc's or Save-a-Lot/Aldi's. Plus, my Acme doesn't double coupons or accept internet printables. I still try to list some Acme deals each week, but it's a rare occasion that I venture into an Acme store.

Giant Eagle
My usual big name grocery store is Giant Eagle. My Giant Eagle doubles coupons up to $0.99, offers fuel perks and takes internet coupons (up to $3.79ish and no free item ones). Giant Eagle's deals are usually good, but I find their produce to be generally too expensive. I often buy hard to find items at Giant Eagle (like organics I have a coupon for or International foods) as well as some items I really want (like Lean Cuisines which help me in portion and lunch control). It's easy to get carried away by large stores like Giant Eagle so I always try to have a premade plan (list and coupons) before entering and avoid certain areas like the plague (cookies, candy, etc).

I don't hit all these stores every week. My usual week is Giant Eagle/Marc's on one day, drugstores another day and Save-a-Lot or Aldi's on another day (usually early in the week because I think they mark down on Sunday or Monday). It may sound like a lot, but it's become routine to me and I LOVE to shop for bargains- it's liek a hobby to me. I really love it when I can leave my daughter at home with Daddy while I hit a fun store (like Giant Eagle) by myself and take my time to find the good deals. If you have any questions, feel free to ask!


Lady Jen on March 25, 2009 at 10:44 PM said...

Thank you! Much of this I had experienced myself, but I have an Acme right by my house so it's my "default" store. I'll have to branch out to Giant Eagle more often instead.

Chrysee on March 26, 2009 at 12:58 PM said...

There aren't Krogers up there? :( Sad

Christian Frugal Mama on March 26, 2009 at 2:37 PM said...

I know, it's heart breaking. I read about so many awesome deals at Kroger's and it makes me jealous... well, almost! :)

Angie on March 27, 2009 at 10:30 AM said...

This was really interesting to read. I have never been to the Aldi's in town, and I feel bad about it when I read various blogs. This made me feel better.

My favorite place to shop is Kroger, though their prices are too high on some things. But, if you shop only their sales, it's great.


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