Food. It’s one of those expenses you can’t avoid, eating being essential to your survival and all, and without knowing a few tricks it’s all too easy to watch your grocery spending quickly gobble up your paycheck.
Cooking your own meals and avoiding restaurants is Money Saving 101, as you probably already know, but even prepping meals at home can get expensive when you’re trying to keep things interesting, healthy, and tasty. If you want to satisfy your appetite without busting your budget, you need some clever ways to stretch your grocery dollars. And being choosy about where you shop is a great place to start.
Large grocery store chains offer wide selections in spacious stores with abundant customer service, making shopping more of an “experience” than simply a task on your to-do list, and you pay for that experience with higher prices. Discount grocery stores, on the other hand, have a more limited selection but still tend to have everything you need, in a sparser setting with fewer employees.
You get the food you need at the savings you want, and that’s something worth experiencing.
Try it out for yourself at one of the three most popular discount grocery stores in the U.S.!
Though most stores are located in the West, with about twenty in Pennsylvania as well, if you’re lucky enough to live near a Grocery Outlet you should make it your first stop for your weekly shopping. You’ll see a limited brand selection but a full array of prepared food items and cooking ingredients, as with other discount stores, but Grocery Outlet frequently offers even better savings.
How do they do it? They have long-term deals in place with suppliers, purchasing their excess inventory, products with discontinued labels, and other items that premium grocery stores no longer want at bargain basement prices. They continue to keep costs low with their warehouse store layout and limited staff, and you reap the rewards in the form of major savings.
Founded in Germany more than half-a-century ago, Aldi now operates more than 8,000 grocery stores worldwide and is still growing fast. That gives it tremendous buying power with suppliers, which means it gets low prices on the products it stocks on its shelves—and charges shoppers low prices, too.
Aldi’s discount business model depends on selling products under their own label, with little or no brand selection on most items. Most Aldi stores also focus on lower-cost groceries with longer shelf-lives, so you might not be able to find fresh produce there, but for most pantry staples Aldi offers steep savings.
Most stores are also cash or debit card only—saving the company (and thus you) on credit card processing fees, though Aldi in the US is starting to test accepting major credit card brands.
Operating more than 1,300 stores in 36 states, Save-A-Lot uses private labeling deals with a range of suppliers—many of whom the discount chain may be the same manufacturers and distributors behind a variety of brand-name goods—to offer discount prices on quality groceries.
Most products on Save-A-Lot’s shelves only come in one size, and they also use standardized and customized cartons for shipping and display that make for easy stocking and low supply chain costs. It all adds up to lower prices at the checkout stand without skimping on anything you need to make a world-class meal.
There’s bound to be a discount grocery store or two near you—get to know them and their selection, and let your shopping dollars take you a whole lot further!