Savvy Grocery Shopping

 

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Grocery shopping has always been one of my least favourite past-times. It is ironic for someone like me who loves to shop anything, that grocery shopping is not high on my list of enjoyment. This is mostly because it is time consuming. I am not one to grab things and go. I am a big-time reader of labels, ingredients and expiration dates. I like to eat healthy so I am always ultra aware of sodium content, sugar amounts and if there is  fibre involved for nutritional value.

 

What is up with the escalation of grocery prices and the quality of produce going down? I can’t help but notice how expensive everything is becoming and as I like to pride myself on being a very savvy shopper. I also notice in my local grocery store that when items go out of stock it can take weeks until they are replaced. I can’t help but wonder if this is due to poor management or if  the employees down the ladder of authority just can’t be bothered doing their jobs properly.

 

I went to my local supermarket yesterday for the third time in 3 weeks. Once in between that time I went to another supermarket which I favour because it has so many more products and the prices are considerably lower. But as it isn’t always convenient for me to go to the other side of town, I only get to my favourite store about once a month and stock up on items I can’t get at my local grocer.

Yesterday I went to my local store to pick up a few things and it was mainly coffee that I was there to buy – the type you pour the beans into a bag and choose how finely ground you prefer it. Three weeks had gone by and all the coffee in the bins was still EMPTY. I couldn’t believe how a major supermarket could be out of coffee for three weeks and when I brought it to one of the employee’s attention, he replied with “Oh, has it been that long?”

 

As I cruised by a few aisles I also noticed that some of the items I use on a regular basis were ‘out of stock’ on the shelves. I found that was becoming common and not coincidental that every time I shopped there, something I needed always seemed to be out of stock. It really irked  me that these places could charge so much money, yet the products they offer never seem to have stable availability on a regular basis. Surely if I owned a store and kept track of best selling items I would make it my business to keep them properly replenished to maximize profits and keep my customers from going to the competition.

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My biggest complaint was about the produce. The prices of much of the produce are so expensive that one would expect that these things wouldn’t be bruised or already over-ripe.

Being a savvy shopper, I am well-versed in pricing of groceries and department stores. I suppose my years of being a shopaholic has afforded me the experience of knowing prices, sales and coupons to get the best bang for my buck. If I like something and the price is worth it to me, I buy it. On the other hand, my principles about never over-paying for something won’t make me hesitate to leave an item behind if I deem it a ridiculous price. If I cannot justify the price, it’s not coming home with me.

What

I remember once last year I wanted to buy some cherries, about a pound and a half and when the check-out girl rang them up I saw a price of around $12.00. I almost choked and asked her to remove it from my bill and told her that she could keep them.

Almost all supermarkets will reduce prices on produce for fast sale if they are reaching their expiry date. You should always check the expiry dates on foods that can spoil, such as produce and dairy products.

Yesterday while I was at the grocery store I thought I’d pick up a few vegetables to get through the weekend. They sell a pre-shredded package of brussell sprouts that I love and although they aren’t naturally my favourite vegetable, when they are shredded like cole slaw they become more accessible to create a tasty side-dish I make out of them (see recipe below). This little package costs $4.99, somewhat steep but being when I get through cooking them it makes enough for two side-dish dinners for two. But when I picked up the last of two packages I noticed the expiry date was the next day with no price reduction and they were already looking like they were on their way to drying out. I stood for a moment wondering if I should just leave them there because I couldn’t justify the price and then I decided to take action. I looked for the grocer and showed him the sprouts and asked him how come they weren’t marked down when they were ready to be tossed out. I told him I would buy them if he lowered the price. He kindly agreed as he took his black marker from behind his ear and marked the label as .99 cents.

 

I was elated that I had the nerve to ask for a markdown and promptly received one. It never hurts to ask for a price change. If you notice items constantly out of stock, look for a floor attendant to find out what the problem is, and hopefully you will get a better answer than I did for the lack of coffee in stock. If you call items to someone’s attention there is a better chance the issues will be recognized and rectified. Pay attention to expiry dates. I like to shop with a loose plan of what I’ll be cooking for the week. If the dates on the produce aren’t going to make it through that time period, ask for a discount and use as soon as possible or leave it behind.

Recipe – Sauteed Brussell Sprouts:

1 Package pre-shredded sprouts (or about 4 cups hand shredded)

2 Cloves of Garlic chopped

3 Tablespoons of Olive oil

1 Onion minced

Salt and pepper to taste.

Steam the sprouts in water for approx. 7 minute until they soften.

In a separate pan, heat oil and saute onion until it starts to brown and then add garlic and brown. Then add shredded Brussell sprouts and seasoning and toss around in fry pan for about 5 minutes. Enjoy!