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If you’ve been hanging out here, you may have questions such as, “What is the Pantry Pantry System? Is it really worth it to shop at several stores? How much can I save?”
You can save on average 50% (or more) on your monthly groceries simply by changing the way you shop. 20 years ago, I shopped like I often observe many Americans shop today: Made a list of what I wanted to buy at the grocery store for the next 1-2 weeks, followed by a large shopping trip at Safeway, and then a smaller one at Trader Joe’s. If there was something on sale, I felt I was getting a good deal. I would repeat this in about 2 weeks. I had no idea that I could actually shop for a lot less.
When I started to compare the price of food and saw how cheaply I could buy it for with a few strategies something else shifted, too. I started to look at the cost of basic ingredients. I discovered that if I was more hands on in preparing the food I ate, my grocery expenses would lower even further. I could still basically eat the same type of food, but for far less. For example, I now knew that I could buy the ingredients in a $1 can of beans for only $.12. This is an 88% savings! An added bonus is homemade can be healthier and taste better. When I applied this to everything I bought, my grocery expenses plummeted to a 90% monthly savings.
Costs aside, another benefit of buying in bulk is you won’t have to shop as frequently!
Today, I realized that the prices I shared with you in my Monthly Shopping List may not be meaningful unless you had something to compare them to. The goal when I shop is to buy my plant-based groceries at the lowest price for the best quality. Simply, to get the best plant-based food for the lowest price. Keeping track of prices at various stores with my Price Book allows me to do just this. The goal of the Penny Pantry System is to pay the lowest price for all of your groceries.
To give you an idea of how much you can save by shopping the way I do, I recorded all the “regular” prices at my local chain grocery store, and compared them to the prices in my Monthly Shopping List. Buying items off the shelf at my local grocery store also exemplifies how I used to shop.
So, let’s imagine that a typical Convenience Shopper (me 20 years ago!) has a list of what they want to buy, and heads to their nearest grocery store.
(I picked the lowest priced store brands at my local Safeway store. I did highs and lows at this grocery store for some items, if I felt that would reflect an accurate buying habit.)
You can go HERE to see the specific stores I shop at for these Penny Pantry Shopper prices.
The Penny Pantry Shopper vs. The Convenience Shopper:
Black Beans, 25 lb. bag Fiesta Brand $15.57=$.62/lb.
vs. $2.40 for 16 oz., or $7.99 5 lb.=High= $2.40/lb. (in 1 lb. bag) or Low=$1.59/lb. (in 5 lb. bag)
Pinto Beans, 25 lb. bag Fiesta Brand $12.19=$.48/lb.
vs. $2.40 16 oz.= $10.19 10 lb. High=$2.40/lb. (in 1 lb bag) or Low=$1.02 (in 10 lb. bag)
Cornmeal, 25 lb. bag Bob’s Red Mill Brand $13.39=$.53/lb.
vs. $3.19 24 oz.=$2.12/lb.
Carrots, fresh 10 lb. bag $3.89=$.38/lb.
vs. 5 lb. $4.59 2 lb. $2.29 High=$1.14/lb. (in 2 lb. bag) or Low=$.91/lb. (in 5 lb. bag)
vs. $5.90 16 oz.=$5.90/lb.
Mushrooms $16.87/10 lbs=$1.68/lb.
vs. $6.89/lb. (in bulk), $5.90 16 oz. pack, $3.39 (8 oz pack)=$6.78/lb. or $5.90 24 oz. pack)=$3.93/lb. High=$6.89/lb. or Low=$3.93/lb.
English Muffins, 1 pack white, and 1 pack wheat. $2.09/pack of 10*2=$4.18=$.20 ea.
vs. $2.89 10 ct.=$.28 ea.
Whole Tomatoes large 6.6 lb. can store brand=$.43/lb.
vs. $2.28/29 oz. or $1.30 14.5=Low=$1.26/lb. or High=$1.43/lb.
Tomato Paste large 6.6 lb. can store brand $5.18=$.78/lb.
vs. $.89 6 oz.=$2.37/lb
Frozen Mixed Vegetables, 5 lb. bag $4.45=.$89/lb.
vs. $2.29 16 oz.
Flour Tortillas 40 pack $3.95=$.10 ea.
vs. $6.39/20 (these were the cheapest; a bit smaller than the ones I buy)=$.32 ea.
Tofu, various $1.19/lb.
vs. $1.80 14 oz.=$2.05/lb.
Chocolate Chips, 12 oz.bags $1.99=$2.65/lb.
vs. $4.49 (Guittard, cheapest vegan one)=$5.99/lb.
Cocoa Powder 9 oz. $2.49=$4.43/lb.
vs. $5.49/8 oz.=$11/lb.
Sunflower Seeds, 16 oz. bags $1.99/lb.
vs. $2.29 8 oz.=$4.58/lb.
Bob’s Whole Wheat Pastry Flour 5 lb. bag $.26/lb.
vs. $5.69/5 lb.=$1.14/lb.
Bac’n Bits 11 oz. $6.53/lb.
vs. $3.39/4.4 oz.=$12.32/lb
Total Average Savings: $56% – 60%
Some of the savings are higher per item, and some are lower. I calculated the average.
Keep in mind these comparisons do not include any prepared or convenience foods. If you regularly buy those, your savings will be even greater if you switch to more foods like these! Happy Saving! 🙂