Guest post by JessieLeigh from Parenting Miracles
When I learned we would be moving from Indiana to Connecticut, one of my biggest fears was this: How will this impact my grocery budget?
Over and over I had read how expensive things were on the East Coast. So many times I had seen comments from New Englanders sighing over how they “couldn’t get those deals” or “match those prices.” Happily, it didn’t take me long to find my groove here and my budget hasn’t had to budge.
So… how can you save money on groceries when you live on the East Coast?
1. Face the facts.
The cost of living is higher here. Our base prices are almost universally higher too. That’s just how it is.
Do not waste time and energy bemoaning the fact that you can’t get milk for $1.49 a gallon like someone in Texas or purchase quality beef for the price you’d pay in Kansas. It’s discouraging but, more to the point, irrelevant. Throwing your hands in the air and declaring it hopeless won’t help. Acknowledge that regular prices are high here. Then move on…
2. Celebrate the advantages, no matter how small they may seem.
Here, in my neck of New England, I can get much fresher, and often more affordable, seafood than I ever would have found when I lived in Indiana. We also seem to get “new” products on our shelves faster than many regions.
And, while most prices here seem astronomical compared to when I lived in the Midwest, I have noted that dairy products like yogurt, cheese, and half and half frequently go on sale for better prices than I paid in “middle America.” Much more productive for me to focus on those things than the fact that I can expect to pay at least twice the price for meat here.
3. Embrace more generous policies.
Do you want to know what floored me when I moved out here? Most of the major supermarkets double coupons up to and including ninety-nine cents. That’s fantastic!
A seventy-five cent coupon, doubled, and paired with a sale makes cereal just as affordable here as it ever was in the Midwest. The fact that the small box of Cheerios regularly retails for $4.99 here doesn’t matter. What matters is that I can still get it for less than a dollar.
4. Look beyond the supermarket.
There are two major supermarkets in my town. I usually scan both ads to see if the deals are worth it. Most weeks, one is and one isn’t. But I don’t stop there.
Before even moving here, I searched for the closest Aldi; it’s forty-five minutes away. I can no longer “drop in” for a few things as needed like I did back in Indiana when Aldi was down the street. But I can plan a big monthly trip to pick up staples. (Aldi’s prices are very consistent on most items across the country.)
I also drop by a small neighborhood market on occasion. Their regular prices are ridiculously high, but they have good sales on a few items. In addition, I’ve gotten bunches of bananas, cartons of organic milk, and bouquets of flowers there for free; since they don’t have the turnover or brisk business of a larger store, they just wanted to get rid of it.
5. Seek out creative money savers.
There are more ways to save than just sales and coupons. One of our supermarkets gives you a nickel off for each reusable bag you use. That adds up!
Some stores offer their own coupons in their ads or online. I have discovered an amazing reduced produce rack in the corner of one of our markets. The other sells gourmet cheese as “cheese ends” for a song. I even save money on meat, dairy, and more by scanning and bagging my own groceries as I shop at a local store.
Will all these options be available to you? Probably not. But you may have other unique ways to shave some pennies off that grocery total! Look around, ask around, and don’t be afraid to try something.
Finding deals in New England looks different from finding deals in the Midwest. If I were to focus only on the shelf prices, I’d probably want to crawl into a hole. But, by using the above strategies, I find I can most definitely save money here. It just required learning a new kind of savvy shopping.
JessieLeigh is the mother of a former 24-week micropreemie and two full-term blessings as well. She is a determined advocate for the tiniest of babies, including the unborn, and a firm believer in faith and miracles. She shares about raising such a precious, tiny baby over at Parenting Miracles.