Save Money on Your Groceries by Shopping Locally—Really!

I’ve got a meat guy, a fish guy, a bread guy and two vegetable gals who are at the farmer’s market every week during the summer. I’m a fussy shopper, and I patronize local shops. They give me the best quality ingredients, but I never thought it was a great way to save money …

Until I joined Costco and my grocery bills shot through the roof.

Now I’m back to local shopping and I’m saving money. Here’s why local is good for our towns and good for your budget.

1.    Lower per pound doesn’t equal lower cost: At Burhops in Glenview, if you want just 10 ounces, they’re happy to cut a fillet just that size. At a big box store, 3 pounds of salmon may cost less per pound, but what are you going to do with all that fish? Your total cost and waste are higher.

2.    The local guys have specials: Check out the weekly advertising supplements for Sunset Foods and Treasure Island. They run great sales in their produce and meat departments. If you’re trying to save money, it’s a great way to plan your weekly menu. The Grand Foods e-mails $10 off coupons, another great savings.

3.    Your time is money: I hate waiting in line, especially now that grocery stores have televisions blaring ads at me while I fume. I never wait in line at Treasure Island or the Grand. Also, I’m not wasting time or gas by driving miles out of my way.

4.    Less impulse equals big savings: Costco cost me money because of all the goodies not on my list: cookbooks, DVDs and frozen breakfast biscuit sandwiches that my kids sampled and wanted. Not a problem when I sail into Al’s Meat Market or The Bottle Shop and pick up exactly what I need and nothing more (even with the kids in tow).

5.    Cheaper and better: The Spice House in Evanston, Zier’s Prime Meat in Wilmette, and Three Tarts Bakery in Northfield are all examples of local stores that offer products that are higher quality than what you can find in a grocery store and at better prices. For example: Tellicherry peppercorns for less than $.75 an ounce; lean beef made from steak trimmings and ground that day for $3.89 a pound; glistening little fruit tarts for $.99 each—yummy and cheap.