Hey hey, y’all. Here’s a guest post from former GRS staff writer (and perennial reader favorite) Donna Freedman. This piece about becoming a frugalvore contains material that originally appeared at Donna’s site, Surviving and Thriving. It’s been modified for GRS. Enjoy!
The “locavore” movement is based on the idea of eating only foods grown within a 100-mile radius of where you live. Vicki Robin, for instance, might be best-known for her money manual Your Money or Your Life, but she also wrote a book for locavores in which she advocates a ten-mile diet.
I’m not a locavore but I have my own system, and I think it deserves its own name: I’m a “frugalvore”. Becoming a frugalvore is pretty simple. You shop mostly (or completely) for what’s on sale.
This isn’t exactly a new idea. Plenty of people shop that way their whole lives. But it might be new to you if you grew up in a home where no one read the supermarket ads, created menus, and then worked to get the most bang for each grocery buck.
Becoming a frugalvore both simplifies and complicates your approach to eating.
On the one hand, it’s easier to shop because you plan menus around that week’s most affordable foodstuffs. However, if you’re the kind of person who always shopped by grabbing whatever looked good, then you’ll need to rethink your supermarket habits.
Fortunately, it’s fairly simple. Not always easy, but simple. Here’s how you can become a frugalvore.
Read the Ads
Again, the point of being a frugalvore is to buy what’s on sale whenever possible. To know what’s on sale, you have to read the ads that come in the mail (instead of pitching them directly into the recycling). Pay special attention to loss leaders.
A loss leader is an item with an irresistible price that gets you into the store, at which point you’re likely to buy other stuff. This a simple and effective marketing strategy for supermarkets unless you, the customer, are:
- Frugal, and
- Have enough time to cherry-pick deals at more than one place.
There are two supermarkets in our area. We shop mostly at one chain because it has the best overall best prices. But we keep an eye on the other store’s ads. If there’s a truly skookum deal on chicken thighs or bananas, we might head over. The two retailers are fairly close together so it’s not exactly out of our way.
Maybe you’ve got more than two options. Lucky you! If you don’t have time to read and cross-reference four or five (or more) stores, then obviously you’d go with the one(s) with consistently good prices.
Speaking of which…
Keep a Price Book
Some people can keep average prices in their heads. When they see a “sale” price on cold cereal or canned tomatoes that they know is actually only a few cents off the normal price,