So when I was in JVC, we had a community food budget which worked out to be about $12 a week per person. So for my house of 8, we had $100 a week to spend. When I lived with four other people, we had $60 to spend. Budgeting was essential and lead to many debates about what was the cheapest grocery store in town – Safeway, Albertons, The Orange Street Food Farm (immortalized in the Decemberist’s Apology Song), or the Good Food Store, a Whole Foods type store that sold lots of organic-y foods and spices in bulk, plus a lot of fancy-shmancy crackers, cheeses and wines.
Personally, I was a big proponent of getting all of our dry goods at the Good Food Store, but I couldn’t manage to convince all of my household that it really was cheaper to buy some things there. I argued that as long as you avoid the fancy pants aisles, you’ll come out ahead.
So today, since my grocery shopping was taking me to both the Good Food Store and Safeway, I decided to do a price comparison of some of the bulk goods that I was buying price per pound.
Sugar – Safeway price: $.92 per lb, Good Food Store: $1.49 per lb. (I was wrong on that one!)
Blackstrap Molasses (organic): Safeway didn’t actually have blackstrap molasses, and the comparing pounds to fluid ounces hurts my head, so I will just tell you that my jar of blackstrap cost $2.35 at the GFS, while a similarly sized jar of regular unsulphured molasses (usually cheaper) cost $3.45 at Safeway.
Popocorn (organic): For plain kernels not in a microwave bag, Safeway: $2.86 per lb (not organic), GFS: $.99 per lb. To compare, those microwave bags were about $5 per lb for organic popcorn.
Quinoa (organic): Safeway only had one of those pre-maid mixes of quinoa and that was $5 per lb, where as the plain stuff was $2.99 per lb.
Here’s the big one though –
Yeast (active-dry): Safeway: $31.96 per lb, GFS: $4.69. I refilled my jar of Fleischman’s yeast for only 70 cents!
I compared a few other items as well:
Milk (Half gallon of organic milk) at Safeway: on sale for $3.79, normally $3.99, (Half gallon of local milk) at GFS: on sale for $3.29, normally $3.79 (they didn’t sell the same brand of local milk, though I know other grocery chains do, usually for somewhere around $3.99 I believe).
Eggs: Organic eggs at Safeway – $4.00; Cage free fertile eggs (yes you can eat those!) $2.99 at GFS.
Butter: (Tillamook, aka the good stuff) On sale for $3.50 at Safeway, normally $4.29. At GFS: $3.75. I ended up buying it at GFS, then when I saw it was on sale at Safeway I got some more!
So in conclusion, I think that fancy-shmancy buy in bulk organic-y stores can really help you save money, if you know what you are shopping for. (Definitely not buying sugar there again!) I do know that their spices are also a killer deal, but I didn’t need to buy any this week so I didn’t compare prices.
As I mentioned last week, we got a CSA share that we are splitting. It’ll cost us about $12.50 a week for 18 weeks, and I wanted to see if we were saving any money by doing it. The farm that we are getting it through is all organic, which is a definitely a bonus! Last week our haul consisted of: kale, spinach, salad mix, radishes, beets, green onions, bok choy, and salad turnips.
When I calculated how much that would cost if I bought it at Safeway, I came up with: $19.94. Since we are splitting it, that would be $9.97 to have bought our CSA at Safeway, $2.50 cheaper.
Safeway didn’t have organic versions of any of those items except kale. Organics (according to Wikipedia) normally run about 10-40% higher than conventional food items. Additionally, Safeway didn’t even have salad turnips (I just compared the regular turnip price), and their beets were sold without the greens. Beet greens, in my opinion, are even better than spinach so you are really just missing out on a whole ‘nother dish without them. So maybe for a dollar-for-dollar comparison we aren’t saving anything by doing the CSA, but I still think we are getting a good deal. Plus all the food last week was delicious. We ate it all within a few days, a pretty decent accomplishment for our not-normally-radish-and-turnip-eating-types selves.
So what do you think is the cheapest way to grocery shop?