Prices are up, but you can keep grocery bills down. The trick? Learn which stores offer the best deals and when. Herein, a guide to merchandise, prices and more (like who keeps you jacked on coffee—beware the cup-holstered cart).
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Papa’s Food Market
Papa’s has served Little Italy since 1920. From the kitchen of this tiny general store come homemade sausages (veal, turkey, liver, sweet and hot), cold cuts (excellent mortadella and Genoa salami), breads stuffed with pepperoni and sharp provolone, oil-cured olives, fresh mozzarella wrapped with prosciutto, and the most savory cherry pepper shooters anywhere. Regulars enjoy good prices on traditional Panettone cake, Little Gina’s pizzelles, Ferrara hazelnut cream chocolates and cannoli shells. Papa’s boasts one of the largest selections of Olevano olive oil in town.
This is not a typical market. There are no coupons, membership cards or promotions. There are employees hired solely to taste foods. The deli, loaded with unusual cheeses, chicken sausages, hummus and party platters, is where you’ll find great prices. (You’d be hard pressed to find salmon-mushroom pâté this good and this inexpensive anywhere.) Consumer Reports awarded high marks to Trader Joe’s organic whole-wheat pasta. It has lots of vitamins, minerals and fiber, and tastes better than most other whole-wheat pastas. One sore spot: Tomatoes are only sold in packs, though there is generally not a dud in the bunch.
Zingo’s screams upscale, but prices say otherwise. Check out the Richfood brand, where you’ll pay about 20 percent less for canned goods, frozen foods and dairy products. Zingo’s carries a good number of gourmet offerings as well, such as all-natural Tribe hummus (found in the front refrigerated section), which is slightly less expensive Athenos brand. Zingo’s is one of the few carriers of Bob’s Red Mill packaged stone-ground, whole-grain and natural foods. Note the store’s impressive array of Bob’s reasonably priced soy flour, bulgur wheat, pancake mix, and gluten-free flours and bread mixes.
Click Here to download a comparison chart of local chains (cost of Milk, eggs, bread, delivery, etc...). (52KB PDF)
- Buy less expensive store brands. The boxes aren’t pretty, but the ingredients are the same.
- Browse outer aisles for dairy, produce, meats and seafood first, then check inside aisles for processed foods. You’ll buy less of the bad stuff.
- Location, location, location. Companies pay to plant pricey items at eye level. The real deals are above and below.
- Those end-of-the-aisle promotions? Total impulse buys. The store can’t sell such items—which often are not discounted—and you don’t really need them.
- Cut coupons. Lots of markets are double-matching them, saving you big money.
- Buy non-food items such as batteries at Wal-Mart, Costco or Target, where they’re cheaper.
- The supermarket is not the place to buy cereal. Target is.