Today, after having returned from our holiday vacation to visit family, it was once again time to go grocery shopping and stock up for the coming week. So, I made my list and proceeded to visit three different grocery stores, then filled our second freezer with my many goodies.
Wait…what? Yes, you read that right. I sometimes will shop at up to 3 or 4 different stores for our groceries. And doing so means we save roughly 25-30% off our annual grocery bill total as compared to if I just purchased everything at the same store week in and week out.
Here’s why: at any given time, each grocery store chain in your town is featuring different “loss leaders.” Loss leaders are deals that are intended to get people in the door. The stores advertise these, assuming that most folks are too lazy/busy/uninterested to go to more than one store to do all their shopping, and so the store will make up the lost profit from the “loss leader” on all the other things people buy.
And, let’s face it. In most cases, they’re right. A good 50% of you are probably thinking “I hate going to even one grocery store…I’m certainly not going to start regularly going to 3!” But if you’re motivated and willing to venture to multiple stores, the savings really can and do add up, especially when it comes to meat & seafood.
Even better, though, is when you’re able to plan not just for the week ahead, but the month & year ahead as well. When you start to think long-term about your grocery purchasing and how much of a given item you’ll use over the course of a year, you can stock up on those “loss leaders” in bulk and then freeze or otherwise store them, cutting down on your grocery bill throughout the whole year.
And so this is where the second freezer comes in. Think of it as a giant freezer full of saved money!
Here are some examples from our most recent grocery outing:
We like to buy organic, grass-fed ground beef whenever possible, for use in meatloafs, pastas, chili, etc. Our “regular” grocery store, H-E-B, sells it for $7.49/lb. That’s pretty pricey!
So I was pretty stoked when I saw that Sprouts, another local store that focuses on “natural” foods, was selling organic, grass-fed ground beef for $3.99/lb, as advertised in their weekly flyer.
So I headed out to Sprouts, bought 4 two-pound value packs (the limit for the deal) and now have 8 lbs of organic grass-fed ground beef in my freezer, which will eventually be turned into about 16 servings of food for us (most likely 8 dinners + 8 leftover lunches). Given that we probably eat red meat just once or twice a week, that’s about 1.5 months worth of beef for us — and into the freezer it goes, saving us $28 in the process over what the same amount of meat would have cost had we bought it at H-E-B.
Of course, that also doesn’t simply mean all of Sprouts deals are the best either. Another local grocery store, Randall’s, was running a great deal on bone-in pork shoulder roasts. These work great in the slow cooker, and are enough to feed us for nearly an entire week when added to a variety of recipes. While Sprouts had bone-in butt roast for $3.99/lb, and H-E-B had it at $3.29/lb, Randall’s was featuring it for a mere $1.29/lb.
I picked up three, coming in right around 8 lbs total, meaning I saved a whopping $21+, and we’ll probably take a few months to actually use up all three.
Making a Second Freezer Work For You
Keeping an eye out for these deals does mean a couple extra steps added to your weekly meal planning, because you’ll want to look through your weekly circular ads and see if anything stands out. And it also means you’ll need to have a good sense for what average prices are in your area, to determine if something really *is* a good deal, or just a marketing ploy.
I also recommend keeping a running list of “what’s in the second freezer” somewhere that you can easily refer to — I keep one in a Google doc — to help make planning both meals and shopping trips even easier.
And of course, I also use the second freezer for more than just meat storage. When I do my annual tomato harvest, I usually make up a giant batch of bolognese, as well as plain diced tomatoes that get frozen and used in dishes throughout the year. You can also freeze bread, eggs, fish, spices…even homemade stocks and sauces. There may also be a pint or two of ice cream hiding somewhere in there. 🙂
Over the course of a full year, I estimate we probably save around $400 to $500 by making these occasional shopping side trips and keeping our second freezer well-stocked. Though I’ve definitely heard of some families, particularly those who hunt and fish a lot, saving even more than that.
Do you have a second freezer? Found a great way to save money using it? Tell us in the comments.