I’m a bargain-minded person, but my defenses are severely weakened whenever I enter one of those gourmet, high-end grocery stores. The rows of expensive cheeses, freshly made desserts, imported beer – these stores are indeed a food-lover’s heaven, but they can also be hell for someone on a budget. That’s why I’ve put together this list of money-saving strategies for some of the specialty grocery stores out there. Keep them in mind the next time you get a hankering for some organic or fancy eats.
Whole Foods Market
Some jokingly call this store “Whole Paycheck” — and it certainly is more expensive than your local Wal-Mart — but there are ways to minimize your bill. Pick up a copy of the bimonthly Whole Deal magazine, or check it out online. It’s packed with coupons for products from the brand lines the store carries, as well as the in-house brand, 365 Everyday Value. Month-long sales are featured, too. You can also find your store on the Whole Foods website, or pick up a flyer in the store, to learn about the best weekly sales.
Shopping on Wednesdays can save you some cash at Whole Foods, because you can take advantage of sale prices from both last week’s and this week’s ads.
Bonus tip: Whole Foods stores offer anywhere from 5 to 10 cents off your bill for each reusable bag you bring in. (I keep a stack of them in my car trunk so I’m never without.)
Scattered across several Southwestern states, Sprouts natural-food stores are smaller than your average supermarket — but the savings are just as big. Like Whole Foods, Sprouts also features “Double Ad Wednesdays,” enabling you to take advantage of two weeks’ worth of ads in a single day. Another big way to save? Join the E-News list – not only will you receive your store’s ad in your inbox each week, you’ll receive monthly high-value printable coupons. (Many times, the coupons are for FREE items.)
People who “like” Sprouts on Facebook can also access exclusive coupons from time to time.
There seem to be few in-house coupons at this specialty grocery retailer, but those who follow the store on Twitter and on Facebook can get notified about “BOGO Tuesday” deals, which give you a certain amount of money off when you buy two of the same thing. (Example: Buy two frozen pizzas, save $5.99.) The store also has a “Fresh Ideas” e-newsletter to tell you about weekly specials.
This grocery store is a West Coast icon, but is slowly making its way east, with many stores slated to open on the East Coast this fall. Trader Joe’s prides itself on everyday low prices rather than complicated bargains, so you won’t find any in-store coupons or rebate offers. You can sign up to receive the E-Newsletter and Fearless Flyer, which let you know about noteworthy specials in the store. Bring your reusable bags, too — most stores offer weekly raffles for TJ’s gift cards for customers who skip the paper and plastic.
And, of course, bargain-minded wine drinkers will appreciate Trader Joe’s super-cheap Charles Shaw wines, popularly known as “Two-Buck Chuck.” True to the nickname, the wines sell for about $2 a bottle in California, but they’ll set you back as much as $3.39 a bottle elsewhere.
Organic and natural foods have started to make their way into mainstream grocery stores, so you may be able to bring a high-end store’s ad to your local Wal-Mart or SuperTarget and get the same product there for the same price. (This is especially helpful if you only rely on specialty stores to supplement your main grocery trips.) You can find Wal-Mart’s ad match policy here and Target’s price-matching rules here.
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