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Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Grocery Shopping This Week

I shopped in-person earlier this week and noticed a few things. 

First off, the produce section seemed much less full than I'm used to. The apples I'd planned on buying weren't there, and there wasn't even a section with their tag indicating they'd sold out. The loose apple bins were only partially filled. I'm used to seeing apples mounded up, stacked in layers 2, 3 or 4 deep. There were plenty of bananas, however. Green cabbage is one of those items that have been hard to find at Fred Meyer this past year. Some weeks, there were no heads of green cabbage at all. In previous years, the green cabbage took up a large section, with a minimum of 30 heads from which to choose. This week, there were 8 heads of cabbage for me to choose from. This is the week before Easter. In other years, this week has seen a large shelf/bin just for asparagus. I didn't even notice any asparagus and reflected on that after I got out to the car. Most of the produce shelves appeared to be about half full, in contrast to other years when produce has been overflowing. 

In the center aisles, there were numerous pockets of bare shelving. In some cases, products that I knew from before 2020 weren't even there. This has been an ongoing issue with grocery stores since spring 2020.

The milk, butter, and cheese refrigerators were full. The egg refrigerator has shrunk and was about 2/3 full. The eggs on sale (18-ct) for the week were nearly sold out. The price was excellent (sale plus digital coupon brought the price to $1.47/18 ct. carton), so that is understandable. I was able to buy the amount of eggs that I had intended (about a 2-month supply), and still leave some cartons behind. Cheese appears to be becoming a luxury item. The name brand cheese (Tillamook) was $10 for 2 pounds. My family would not be eating cheese at that price. The store brand (Kroger) was on sale and had a digital coupon, bringing the price down to just under $5 for a 2-lb block or bag. That's a reasonable price to me and slightly lower than a few months ago. I bought the limit of 5 packages, again about a 2-month supply. There was plenty of milk, but it has gone up about 80 cents per gallon. I didn't buy yogurt, but I noticed large bare sections of shelving where the store brand usually is displayed. 

I still look for bargains every time I shop. This time it was butter. Kroger had been packaging some of its butter in 2-packs, two 1-lb boxes over-wrapped together, with a slight discount for buying more than one pound. Evidently, this wasn't as popular of a marketing gimmick as they'd hoped, and many of these 2-packs were about to expire (30 or more double packs). The sell-by date was April 13 and I was shopping on April 11. They'd marked the butter 2-packs down to $2.99 ($1.50 per pound) to sell them quickly. I scooped up ten 2-packs, or 20 pounds. I also had a coupon good for Kroger brand products, valued at $6. Applying this $6 to the butter brought my price per pound down to levels I remember from when my kids were small children ($1.20/lb). I left plenty of marked down butter for anyone else bargain shopping that morning.

I didn't buy everything on my list. A couple items weren't even there any more, so I had to rethink my plans. Some categories were just too expensive (meat). I stocked up on ground beef summer and early fall 2021, paying $2.88/lb. This week at Fred Meyer, the same grade beef was $4.79/lb. I still have some in my freezer, so we can go on with the ground beef that we have. I was just looking for something other than ground beef (way, way out of my price range). 

I passed by the Easter candy section and noticed huge price hikes that I think shouldn't have been there. I wanted some jelly beans and the best I could find in the holiday section were $3 for a 12-oz bag. I headed over to the regular candy aisle and found a 10-oz bag of Kroger brand jelly beans for $1.25. I also noticed exorbitant prices on what I consider ordinary chocolate Easter candy (Mars brand) in the special Easter aisle, $4.50 for 9-oz bags -- that's $8 per pound! I can make molded candies (using my rabbit molds) or mounded chocolate and coconut "nest" candies for a third of that per ounce price, by using chocolate baking chips.

Prices are up, that's for sure. There are still some bargains to be had. But you have to look for them. My other thought is that I'm very glad to have a garden planned for this spring and summer. I hope that many people across the globe will be planting gardens this summer to offset some of the shortages to come.


10 comments:

  1. Your trip sounds similar to the one I had at Aldi's yesterday. Lot's of empty shelves and higher prices on most things compared to a a year or two ago. But we were still able to get mostly what we wanted. Flexibility is the name of the game.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      so it's not just my area. A colleague in my husband's office commented about the bagged salad she buys. A year ago, she spent $5 for a bag of salad that was enough for she and her husband. This week, a $5 bag of salad was just enough for one. My husband asked if she and her husband planned to grow any veggies this summer. She said they usually do tomatoes, but not much else. However, they were thinking about growing more this summer.
      Yes, flexibility. I had to rethink some of my grocery plans, but not all. I was grateful to get the butter, eggs, and cheese that I wanted. I can't grow any of those -- not until we buy that goat. LOL It's a joke in my family that we'll need to buy a goat, which wouldn't be allowed in our neighborhood, not unless we could convince neighbors that it was a "pet".

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  2. Grocery shopping has been frustrating for 2 years now. Walmart has been terrible. I've had better luck at winco, but thats an every 4-6 week thing.
    I've had the opportunity to go to Fred meyer twice in the last couple months. My dd has doctors appointments in Idaho and I have ridden along. The markdowns we have found there are crazy. I have never seen so many in a store before. She gets so excited at the thought of a trip to freddy's-her name for the store lol. Last week her coworkers were making fun of her and said she was weird for being excited about going to a grocery store. She told them they weren't raised by her mother, and that she needs all the deals and she doesn't understand why they want to waste money on food.
    I have to go to wm this morning. I always dread that. Some trips I can only get half the stuff on my list. I'm always shocked a couple times by a drastic price i see. Then I have to decide if I'm willing to pay that price, or skip the item. The sales at safeway are almost nonexistent these days. I'm hoping to make a trip up to winco soon, and I will probably be able to go to Freddy's in a couple weeks.dd goes 3 times a month, but I usually only go once a month. Those trips have enabled me to keep spending about the same amount on groceries as I used to.

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    1. Hi Diane,
      WinCo is a drive for me, too. Now with gas so expensive, I think it will become a once per 6 or 8 weeks thing. But their prices tend to be on par with Walmart, only Walmart has had so many shortages.
      I hadn't really reflected on that, but I think you're right about markdowns at Fred Meyer. I often find something marked down that I want, like this week's butter. In the past I've found eggs repackaged at a great price. These are eggs that might have been in a carton with damage but many of the eggs are still good condition, so they take eggs from many cartons and put them into one. I have found meat on markdown, but that is non-existent right now.

      That's too bad about your daughter's coworkers. Oh well, they're the ones who will be spending more and having to work harder to earn the money to afford their spending.

      I hope your trip to Walmart went better than you'd dreaded. These days, I feel drained after shopping. wishing you a good day, Diane.

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    2. Walmart actually went pretty well. I was able to get most everything on my list, however I still saw a lot of gaps in their inventory, just not in what I needed.

      I agree with you about winco being similar to wm. Their produce prices are much cheaper than wm for me though, and they usually have some good sales in their wall of value, or whatever they call it. Winco prices started going up sooner than wm, but now Walmart is increasing everything by a lot, so I'm curious to see how winco compares now.

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  3. Higher prices and limited availability is also happening in my area. I did stock up on butter, though. $1.79/pound at Meijer! I still had some left in the freezer from my Christmas stock-up but I don't anticipate any more good sales until November and hopefully what I have will last me until then.

    What I'm noticing is that I really need to keep an eye on expiration dates in our milk section at Meijer. A few weeks ago I picked up some 1 gallon milk containers which were on clearance, only to get home and realize that they were already past their "best by" date (and we were leaving town and wouldn't have the opportunity to use it up without freezing it). I should have been more attentive but I never anticipated that they would be beyond their date already. Since then I've noticed that Meijer has been putting out a lot of past due milk products. I wanted a half gallon of buttermilk, and all the half gallon containers had some sort of dirt on them, so I decided to opt for a smaller container instead. In our area, it's hard to find workers, so I think staffing is an issue, and the staff they do have are either not paying enough attention or are overworked and don't pick up on everything.

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  4. Shortages and high prices here also. I have Kroger affiliate 10 miles from home and a WM and Aldi 20 miles from us. The Kroger is so small so few mark downs. The loss leaders are not much I'm interested in most weeks. Most are processed items and I try not to buy too much of that. Last week they did have pork loin for 1.69# so I got two to put in the freezer. Everywhere the pasta is almost cleared out. The produce is poor quality...I'm assuming because of weather conditions around the country. We have had a few things we just can't find but manage to make do.

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  5. Higher than already high prices here. I noticed even bargains and clearances have gone up too. The bargain vegetable bags @ $2.99 may be the same price but instead of 4-5 lbs, will have 2-3 lbs produce, and often of lesser quality than before. Of course there are no great prices for produce anywhere, not Costco especially. Under $2 a pound is my limit on fruits and vegetables, so we are buying mostly apples, oranges, papaya, cabbage, celery, carrots, cauliflower (Sam's), and broccoli, plus for variety we rely on bargain produce, for example red bell peppers regular $5.99/lb that will be about a dollar per pound (almost 3 lbs for $2.99.) However, because it is not fresh, I process the produce immediately, either cooking or freezing it, as soon as I get home. No waiting a day in the fridge. The red bell peppers were sliced and frozen, to be used as pizza toppers or in stir fry. I know I'm losing nutrition buying bargain produce, but it's better than not having the variety. We may start gardening a bit more, now that 0our plans for the backyard has changed. Raised container gardens are in our plans since we're getting older. I love the convenience and freshness of garden produce. It is such a productive hobby, a concept that's missing in modern society, which as Lili mentioned the Amish fully embrace.

    I think it's sad that people often misjudge frugality and spending wisely as a waste of time or dumb. I think it's more shameful to spend foolishly, not save, and get into financial trouble. Plus wrong lessons being taught by example so another generation will repeat the mistake IMHO. I wear mines like a badge, yet I do not always hold the purse strings tight. I view money as a tool to accomplish what I value, so I don't feel rewarded or deprived personally in my relationship to money. Please excuse another rant, these days I'm pretty full of it.

    Have a great day,
    Laura

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    Replies
    1. Laura, if you consider that a rant...you rant on...as I think Lili's readers are on the same page! I so agree with what you have said!

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    2. Thank you, Linda for your kind assurance. But I do have to remember that not everyone wants to hear at times.

      Have a great weekend,
      Laura

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