I am trying to find a store that will list average grocery store prices of popular items. We are going through tough times in our household with food and budgeting (my hubbie was in the mortgage business).
When we began budgeting more carefully, what we did was just go to the stores with a list of the common items we used, and wrote down the prices. Then I used the computer to make a table listing the items and each store's prices. That gives you a good overview.
I'm sorry you're having a tough time of it right now, and I wish more people would realize how these things can happen to anyone...just as you realized it. Some folks can be so unsympathetic, acting as if you're just lazy if you can't make ends meet.
Angel Food Ministries is good - I've used it. You get maybe 30% more food than you would buying it from a store. You'll need to be flexible to use everything they give you.
Also see if anyone in your town runs a food co-op to buy in bulk and divide among families. That might help, too.
I doubt if you'll find any store willing to give out their prices--it's bad business policy. If you really want to get the most for your money, you'll have to forget about it being given to you and you'll need to do the footwork and find out the prices yourself. Keep track of them in a "pricebook." You can find lots of sites that give info on making one. Check out Amy Dacyczyn's book "The Tightwad Gazette" probably gives the simplest instructions for starting one. Check it out from your library. It's a lot of work to get started, but well worth the time. You'll find that things that you thought were bargains actually aren't, and places you never thought to look will give some great ones. When you find good deals, stockpile--you can start one with very little money, but it will take time and steadfastness.
Try a garden or even grow a food plant or two in pots. Do clip coupons for things that you would buy. Even if you don't have any stores that double coupons, you'll often find those things on sale or clearance, and the coupons will give the best bargains. Otherwise buy generics or store labels. Think of and encourage your family to try new things and to eat alternatives: cooked oatmeal instead of cold cereal, water instead of soda, meals cooked from scratch, powdered milk--even if just for cooking and baking, etc. They're cheaper and far more filling and nutritious. It's almost like having another full-time job at first, and it can be frustrating, but keep with it.
It gets easier and a lot less work as you go along, and after a while will even save time too. Sooner or later, you'll prevail, just don't give up. Good luck and God bless.
I am trying to save on our family's groceries, too. Here are some tips that have worked for me.
Get a subscription to the Sunday paper. It is cheaper than buying it each week and the coupons will pay for the paper. Go to www.couponmom.com for free advice on the best grocery deals.
Make a list of the things your family eats. Each week when the sale papers come out for the grocery stores I ask my family "will you eat / do you like..." if I am not sure. If they won't eat it, it isn't a bargain! Keep a list.
Buy the same things. I'm not saying "have spaghetti every Tuesday". What I am saying is, make a Master Grocery List. A short example would be: 2% Milk, ground chuck, chicken breast, lasagna noodles, Snapple, bananas, and cheese singles. Each week, check your master list against the pantry, fridge and freezer. See what you have on hand and what you need to buy. Then see what coupons you have. By buying the same things, you get familiar with their prices. If you always buy milk by the gallon then you'll be more aware when the price is high or low.
Shop with a friend. I shop with my sister-in-law. We make our lists independently and then compare. If there is something on both of our lists (rice, for example) we will buy the largest size and split it if it is cheaper that way. Same for meat. Check the unit prices. Some things are not cheaper if you buy the larger package.
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