Part 2 of How to Save on Groceries

First, can I say I’m totally on pins & needles?  
Joseph is about to find out, for the second time, if he passed the Bar exam  (he failed the first go around).  Which, will determine, I don’t know, LIKE OUR WHOLE FUTURE!  Sorry to shout. 
I know, there are wars, people dying, political tyranny, starvation.  Lot’s of bad things happening that are much more grave than what I’m personally going through.  But, knowing this doesn’t lesson the gravity of my experience.  
To be honest, I am a bit  a little extremely anxious about the whole situation.  
Despite this anxiety, good things are happening to us.  

Like today, I had a dear sweet someone who I barely even knew, give me $50 because she wanted me to “buy something for the kids.”  (Did I mention the time a stranger that I met at a park playground gave me a car?  True story.  I’m still driving the trusty little Toyota.)

Unexpected, kind things happen to me all of the time, which frankly, humbles me.  How’d I get so lucky?  Often, I have a feeling someone’s looking out for me.  
On a related note, I want to thank you for reading this blog.  
As you might have noticed, I’ve been putting in a great deal more time & energy into publishing regular posts.  I’m serious about creating something of value, a place where you can come & join a community of other like-minded individuals who crave knowledge & want to be inspired.  
It has been a bit of a test of patience, having to wait for my site to be up, and I thank you for coming back & reading despite my blog’s current design.  Maybe it’s no big deal to you, but once I decided to really be serious about blogging, I’ve realized how not-user friendly my site is and that makes me sad, especially since I do put a lot of time into each post.  Not to worry though, things should be fresh & new shortly.  
I guess where I’m really going with this is, I want to say thanks for reading.  Thanks for adding your insight & comments.  YOU make it a blog.  You make it worthwhile.  Otherwise, it would just be me writing off into space, no one listening, no one caring, and that is a sad, sad thought indeed.  
Well now, I’ve gotten off to quite a mumbling sort of jaunt, let’s bring it back to real reason we’re here:
I got all of this produce for $26!  I easily would have spent $125 or more, had I bought this at regular price.

Here’s the receipt to prove it:
I got strawberries for $1.25 a pound, granny smith apples for .25/lb, cucumbers, 8 for $1, oranges 8lbs./$1, celery 2 for $1 and so on. 
Here’s what I got for $26:
  • 8 lbs. of fresh strawberries
  • 2 heads of celery
  • 3 lbs. of zucchini
  • 8 lbs. tomatoes
  • 11 lbs. onions
  • 6 avocados
  • 2 heads of romaine lettuce
  • 23 lbs. oranges
  • 1 head green cabbage
  • 8 cucumbers 
  • 3 lbs. brocolli
  • 4 green bell peppers
This is more than enough fresh produce for our family for a week, wouldn’t ya say?  
To show you that this wasn’t just some fluke occurrence, that I really do this on a weekly basis, here’s my receipt from my last shopping trip on Wednesday.  I went in the morning & no one was there–Salem loved running around the produce section & grabbing tomatoes & carrots. 
I spent a grand total of $42.  
Click on the picture to see an enlarged photo where you can look at the receipt in detail.

Top steals of the trip:  Fuji & granny smith apples 3 lbs./$1, $1.50 for pineapples, $1.60 for a head of cauliflower, cucumbers 8 for $1.  I easily got a 150 lbs. of food for $42.

How does price matching work?

This is how my Wal-mart does it. Other stores or other Wal-marts, that match competitor prices may have different policies.

You take in a list (you don’t even have to have the ad, although I’ve found having the ad on hand is helpful, especially if the cashier has questions about the sale), tell the cashier you are price matching & they will ask what the competing price is for each item you are matching.  Easy as that!

Although I admit, I often hope & pray that my cashier can figure out some of the more complicated items.

For example, Wal-mart sells oranges by item, like .50 an orange.  But most other places do by the pound.  So when I price match oranges they’ve got to convert or do the math, which to be honest, some cashiers aren’t up to the task (I’ve actually had to help them figure it out).

Here’s what I do to prepare for each shopping trip:

I go on Wednesdays.  This is the day when two of the major grocers have their big weekly one day sale (this is when they do the 10 lbs./$1 oranges & sales like 1 lb. of strawberries for $1).

I go through the 3 stores that usually have awesome deals on produce & make a list of the best deals.

General rule of thumb:  I only buy a certain fruit or vegetable if it’s on sale.  [Remember, I’ve got 4 little mouths to feed plus a hubby & myself (& I eat A LOT!) & I’m on a budget.]  I have one exception to this rule–bananas.  They aren’t always on sale & this is one of the foods that my family always wants to have on hand.  If I can’t find an ad for it, my default is Costco, where I can always get them at a competitive price.

Here’s how I do my shopping:

I go shopping once a week (Wednesdays) for fresh produce.  We do our “big” shopping trip once a month (the 15th, payday) where we stock up on all non-perishables & frozen items for the month.  Occasionally I’ll have to make an emergency run to the store for a last minute item for a get together or party, but usually we don’t go shopping more than 4 or 5 times a month, & we typically have plenty of food on fresh, healthy food on hand without breaking the bank!

Last thought…

You may not have a lot of options where you live, but you may be surprised to find that you have more than you think.  If you live near a Wal-mart, you should be able to price match your produce.

If not, many grocery stores will ad-match, so you can compile all the best deals on produce & shop at one place.  A little creativity & a little extra work may be the difference in improved health (more fresh produce for you & your family) & savings of several thousand dollars a year!

What are some of your tricks for saving on your grocery budget without sacrificing healthy, nutritious, whole foods?



  1. janet @ the taste space
    on May 18, 2013 at 8:14 am said:

    Hey Janae, I am moving to Houston in a month and wondering if you have any tips. Right now, I live in Canada and save on groceries by shopping at ethnic markets and price-matching at other grocers. I will be living close to a Trader Joe’s, so I know that will be nice, but still not as cheap as my ethnic grocers (cheaper tempeh, though!). I was wondering whether you looked into online foodstuffs? Is it cheaper to buy quinoa and lentils from an online store than TJ’s? I am also considering a CSA but we’ll see what the closer markets carry first, since they are closer than the CSA pick-up.

  2. Janae Wise
    on May 15, 2012 at 2:11 pm said:

    Atwood: Yay! I'm so glad you had success. Sounds like you got some really great deals. I think of any dollar saved as a dollar earned, but better!Leanne: I have done a pantry post, but it's been awhile. I'll put that on my blog, to-do list–thanks for the question!

  3. Leanne
    on May 15, 2012 at 1:11 pm said:

    WOW! I avoid ususally avoi Walmart, I may actually try this though! Thanks for sharing.Have you done a post on your "pantry" items…which items did you loose first when you went vegan, or was it a gradual (sp?) which? Just curious! I am truely enjoying your blog, very inspiring ๐Ÿ™‚ Leanne

  4. Atwood-Family of FIVE
    on May 12, 2012 at 8:58 pm said:

    BTW-I went to my local walmart last week and price matched! Here's my deals: Broccoli-59 cents/lbs, roma tomatoes and zucchini each 39cents/lb, pineapple $1.59 each, seedless watermelon $3.99 and green peppers 49 cents each. pretty sweet! so far i've been able to use all the produce quite easily-I still have some broccoli but it's my favorite veggie and so easy to cut up and roast that it will be gone in no time. Thanks for the great idea!

  5. Janae Wise
    on May 3, 2012 at 1:51 pm said:

    Melanie: Walmart DOES price match coupons & they do double coupon Tuesday (at least my Walmart does). You'd be surprised to find out how many ways you can save money if you just do a little research & ask some questions. Great question!

  6. Melanie
    on May 2, 2012 at 4:24 pm said:

    And can you price match with coupons?? Like, say you have a coupon to another store that you would have used…can you tell Walmart that would have been the price you paid and price match that? I kinda doubt it but it's worth asking I guess. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Melanie
    on April 30, 2012 at 4:53 pm said:

    Thank you for these posts! It is helpful to have some examples of what seems "reasonable" for a HEALTHY grocery budget. Walmart is practically my only option so I have no qualms with shopping there. ๐Ÿ™‚ I forgot about the price matching though! Wish I'd been doing that this whole time!Also…random question… What do you think of detox cleansing? What form of that do you think is a healthy way detox? And how long/ how often?

  8. Alisa
    on April 29, 2012 at 5:07 am said:

    I love to ad match as well, but sometimes I get snobby/lazy and get my produce at the local health food store. I always feel bombarded by unhealthy food choices at w so I try to avoid it when I'm feeling weak. Can you explain how you do the math of converting item prices vs weight prices? I didn'tKow you could match those.Oh, and good luck to your hubby! We were in the same boat last years and ine passed he is now an attorney. crazy!

  9. Janae Wise
    on April 28, 2012 at 2:17 pm said:

    Dani: Look for the weekly sales online. Most stores now post their weekly circular (ads) online. Atwood: Yes, I totally know what you mean. The sales are great, but produce is not. That's why if you price match at Walmart you get good produce at the sale price of the other store. Win, win. I.ikeda: Thanks so much! Most Wal-marts have grocery stores now, so price-matching produce is even easier. Kristen: I agree with ya, our grocery bill should not go up when we eat less processed foods, it logically should go down since processing foods requires more energy & money to produce. There's not as great of a demand for produce though as there is for the processed, boxed stuff, so the prices are partly a reflection of that. But yes you're right, if you shop smart & buy in bulk (especially things like dried beans & grains), you should be able to eat MORE food on less money, yay!

  10. Kristen
    on April 28, 2012 at 3:28 am said:

    YES!! I love this talk about savings and getting the lowest prices for the best foods! Since I started reading your blog I have been eating a lot more fresh produce (veggies & fruit). I love to ad-match at Walmart and I have found that our grocery spending has actually gone down since purchasing and eating more fresh produce!! I am quite amazed that I can actually save money by eating healthier because usually people think the opposite (myself included before I actually tried it!). Thank you Janae!!

  11. i.ikeda
    on April 28, 2012 at 2:44 am said:

    Good luck to you guys! I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you all. I have never bought produce at a Wal-Mart but maybe I should look into it. I don't know, I've never even seen them at my local Wal-Mart to be honest. But you're inspiring me to go look at alternatives that really are around here….

  12. Atwood-Family of FIVE
    on April 28, 2012 at 2:11 am said:

    We have 2 stores that have ultra low prices-but I never shop there b/c the quality is low. Next week I'll try price matching and see what deals I can get!

  13. Anonymous
    on April 28, 2012 at 1:21 am said:

    That's what I thought, but I got thrown off when you said "I go through" the 3 stores. lolI'm going to have to get the courage up to do this! I've also avoided walmart because their produce never looked as good as WinCo's, and the price wasn't any better either. But this will be nice if I ever find Ads from a bunch of different stores.Dani

  14. Janae Wise
    on April 28, 2012 at 1:21 am said:

    Liz: Wal-mart has come a long way in terms of quality of produce. At least where I live, & I've shop at 2 different Wal-marts. I remember shopping there 4 years ago & having the same experience as you. Their produce is WAY better than most other grocery stores around here, especially the stores where I'm using their prices to ad match at Wal-mart. Give it another try, I think you'll find the quality has improved greatly. Dani: Just to clarify further. You'll scan all the sales looking at the weekly circulars of various stores (either online or the print form that come in a weekly mailer or the newspaper), you'll make a list of all the items you'd like to get & list what they are on sale for. You'll go to WM & get your items. When you check out you tell the cashier you're price matching. For each thing you'll say, "I'm price matching broccoli 3 lbs./$1" and the cashier will enter that in and that's what you'll pay (instead of 1 lb/$1, which is the Wal-mart price). For each item you'll just say the price from a competing store, and Wal-mart will match it. I know Wal-mart is not the only store that does this, but I choose to go there because I've had success with the quality of their produce. The only problem I run into sometimes is that they often run out of things that are on sale at other stores because so many people are price matching too. Oranges, for example, are very rarely in stock when they go on sale at 10 lbs./$1 at Buy Low (a local store here). Hope this makes more sense.

  15. Janae Wise
    on April 28, 2012 at 12:55 am said:

    Dani: You don't have to go to the actual store. You just look at the ads, make a list of their sale prices & tell the cashier at Wal-mart what the competing price is. I know, it sounds a little confusing, but once you get the hang of it, it's really easy & saves a ton of time. A lot of stores even have their ads online, so you can get that info online instead of from a print ad in the newspaper (I always get mine in a mailer each week so I don't have to worry about this).Steph: For organic apples, Costco usually sells those at a great price…

  16. Anonymous
    on April 28, 2012 at 12:53 am said:

    I haven't shopped for produce at Walmart in years because it was all really poor quality. I haven't even walked through the produce section for a long time, but it seems like the quality has improved based on your pictures. I might have to give it another shot.-Liz

  17. Stephanie
    on April 28, 2012 at 12:48 am said:

    I love this! I went to the couponing class at church months ago (not really to learn about coupons, for the same reason you don't use them, but because I was interested in the hair-cutting half of the class) and the teacher told me that I could really benefit from price matching. I sort of shrugged it off. I am super excited about it now though. This is something I can easily do. I will still be snobby and buy my apples at Sunflower Market, because I MUST have organic apples. Are there any organic options at Wal-Mart? We're hoping to save tons of money on produce through our community garden this summer too. ๐Ÿ™‚ Lots of organic options there and heirloom tomatoes that I can hardly wait for!

  18. kitkat048
    on April 27, 2012 at 11:09 pm said:

    WOW!Now I know why I loved WalMart so much when I was at college in Virginia. Its such a great store!

  19. Anonymous
    on April 27, 2012 at 10:40 pm said:

    I'm a little confused. Do you use ads or do you actually go to 3 different stores and get prices? That paragraph was a little confusing. I assume you use the ads from the newspapers, because if you are going to drive to each store anywa, why not just shop there?Dani

  20. Janae Wise
    on April 27, 2012 at 10:11 pm said:

    Plantstrongmoma: Yes, I know, I feel a little bit like a sell-out going to Wal-mart, but at the end of the day, I've got bills to pay & only so much money to go around & I want my family to eat well. So, it works. My baby LOVES bananas too. We have to watch her eat them though, otherwise she'll stuff the whole thing in her mouth without chewing & try to swallow. That's trouble. And thanks for the well wishes. We know the letter was sent out today & we won't get it until Monday, so the anticipation is killing us. Just trying to keep myself distracted from thinking about it too much.

  21. Vlinder
    on April 27, 2012 at 10:07 pm said:

    First off, good luck to Joseph!!Second, I just got back from Trader Joe's with $58 spent. Yes, it's items we need for the week (we shop weekly) but it always just seems to be so much. Our weekly grocery bill is around $150 for 4 and that's not including our monthly $200 at Costco. I want to think I'm frugal but you just got such a great deal. All that great produce. I've never looked to Walmart for produce. I've always shopped at Sunflower and rely on the CSA. Great job! I will have to look into Walmart!!We too buy bananas weekly. My little one cannot live without them! :)Thanks for sharing! ~PlantStrongMoma