In Chicago, Jewel-Osco and Dominick's are everywhere! But, choosing between going to Jewel or Dominick's is not your only choice for all your groceries. You can save a lot of money by a little bit of adventure and a little bit of planning ahead.
Plan your week (quickly)
Now I realize not everyone may have the chance to plan their weekly meals, but it reduces stress throughout the week, and eventually saves time and money. So on Saturday or Sunday when I have an extra minute or so of free time, I jot down the week's evening dinnertime schedule (quickly determining if a family dinner is possible for each night, if I have time to cook, etc). It goes like this:
· Mon - - COOK
· Tues - - PACK/LEFTOVERS
· Wed - - COOK
· Thur - -EASY COOK (busy night)
· Fri - - -COOK
· Sat - - -Go out to dinner with friends
So for the week above, I need 3 regular cooking meals, 1 Easy Cook meal (something like boil pasta and add sauce, or a pre-made freezer meal) and 1 day where I pack my lunch and my family eats leftovers.
Scan the Ads
Then, I glance over the local adds (online) for meat that's on sale. This will probably be the main course of my 3 COOK meals. (looking for meat $2 or under)
For example....This week, I found boneless skinless fresh Chicken Tenders for $1.79/lb at Village Marketplace, my COOK meals reflect and are planned as such: Pineapple Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Chicken with Artichokes and Chicken Parmesan. Also Boston Lettuce is 2 Heads for $1.00...thus, Lettuce Wraps and side salads are planned with each meal.
Adventuring out to new places:
Discover your neighborhood - Do not be totally satisfied with your big chain supermarkets! Venture to places that attract immigrants or local ethnic groups; these smaller markets tend to have fresher and cheaper produce than Jewel and Dominick's. Shop fresh items (meat, produce, and even some cheeses) at these local Grocery stores and save the commercialized items and your coupons for Jewel.
Some of Chicago's cheaper alternatives: (for north side)
Food4Less, Main Street & McCormick (Takes coupons, Kroger store brand, great produce & Mexican food section)
Village Marketplace, two locations in Skokie and Carol Stream (amazing produce sales, best meat & deli counter with great prices, Kosher products, friendly staff that remembers you)
Marketplace on Oakton (fresh produce, more meat and fish selections)
Aldi - opening up all over Chicago! Great prices especially on dried goods, great food!
Strack & Van Til, on Elston/Bucktown, (has a devoted following for their meat and deli counter, has much better prices than Jewel & Dominick's).
Save your coupons for the "Super-Markets", Jewel & Dominick's! Always match sales, coupons and rebates together and use your customer cards to get "preferred savings". At the supermarket chains, only shop for the coupon/sale items that are the American "commercialized items", (Like freezer items, soda, cereals, crackers, and cookies). This will save you immense cash throughout the year!
$$ Tip: Buy your Sunday Paper at The Dollar Tree (for only $1) and clip coupons for your week from the coupon inserts! The paper coupons are usually the best during the first week of every month. Are you even more (maybe shamelessly) frugal? Pick up coupon inserts from Starbucks or any fancy coffee shop on Sunday morning; many coffee drinkers buy the Sunday paper to read and discard and toss aside the coupon inserts! Also don't forget to log on to Coupons.com, Smartsource.com, and redplum.com to select and print online coupons. Most sites will let you print 2 coupons per computer.