So recently, a few of my friends have been putting together “Guides to Buying Things” on their blogs. Zack started it with The Guide to Buying Video Games. Kenny followed with The Guide to Buying Movies. Cynthia then posted The Guide to 99-Cent Stores. I figure I should join this little meme and post a Guide to Buying Groceries. This is just off the top of my head- I’ll elaborate more when I’ve gone to the shops and checked brand names and prices.

Trader Joe’s
Milk (maybe, I need to check other supermarket prices)
Sour cream
Chocolate chips
Boxed macaroni and cheese
Good bacon (best price around for Nieman Ranch)
Italian sausage
28-ounce cans of whole tomatoes
Decent but not great cheese
Green beans, both fresh and frozen
Crimini mushrooms
2-Buck Chuck (mainly for cooking, although it’s eminently slurpable)
Tom’s of Maine toothpaste

Cost Plus
Spices – the ones in the cellophane packages, not the bottles. Buy your own bottles or keep them in baggies. Mexican markets also have cheap spices.
Le Puy lentils
Panko bread crumbs
Coconut milk

14.5-ounce cans of chopped tomatoes
Canned Tomato Sauce (plain)
14.5-ounce cans of garbanzo beans
Whole Chickens
Parmesan Cheese (big whole chunks)
Tillamook Cheddar Cheese (good for mac & cheese, decent for eating)
Smoked Salmon
Canned Crab (the good, expensive stuff in the refrigerated case- it’s worth it)
Allergy pills/sleeping pills/ibuprofen

Not-so-good Bacon (if you go in the morning, you can often find packages of bacon ends for ridiculously low prices- not for eating with eggs, but for chopping up and cooking with [mm, bacon fat])

Cereal (at least they used to have good prices- I don’t really buy cereal anymore)
Pop-Tarts (ditto)

Mexican markets
Spices (as I mentioned previously)
Dried chiles
Dried beans
Pretty decent-looking produce

Farmers’ Markets
Fresh produce. Support your local farmers.

Things to scour your circulars for:
Soda – 79¢ to $1 for 2-liter bottles, $2.50 per 12-pack, $5 per 24-pack (Long’s and Rite-Aid often have good coupon deals)
Swanson’s Organic or Low-Sodium (in aseptic boxes) – $2 per 32-ounce box
Eggs – $1.50 to $2 a dozen for large AA (I buy extra large at TJ’s for $1.29, but they’re awkward for baking)

Ross, Marshall’s, TJ Maxx
Kitchen gadgets and bakeware (I picked up some OXO measuring cups for a steal, and found their salad spinner for five dollars cheaper than anywhere else)

Where I live, we get a “20% off one item” coupon for Bed, Bath & Beyond each week. Might be a good thing to look for, if you need to buy anything on the larger size. I don’t think it applies to knives, though.

This is a great pan, if you like eggs, crepes, omelets, quesadillas, homemade tortillas, toasting nuts, bacon, or anything that needs shallow pan frying (my brother uses it for crab cakes and latkes). It’s gone up in price a little (used to be $19.99), but it’s still a good deal. I waited until it showed up in my Gold Box for $16.99, then bought it. Everyone I know who has this pan loves it to bits. Also, make sure to check the Friday Sale for more deals from Amazon. They’ll only have a few kitchenware items, but sometimes you can find really great prices.

See if any stores around you offer knife sharpening. I know Raley’s does it for free, although my dad thinks they do a crappy job; Dittmer’s, the butcher in Mountain View, does it free once a month; Perfect Edge, in San Mateo, does it for a price. It’s like getting new knives. And make sure you hone your blades regularly! A sharp knife is a safe knife!

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