Supermarket Sticker Shock

© Can Stock Photo/

Have you been to the grocery store lately? If so, then you know food prices are going through the roof. Thankfully, my mother taught me how to shop smart at a very young age, and I’ve heeded her advice ever since. It has saved me a lot of money, especially when I was going through lean times. I  learned even more money saving tricks after I became an adult.

The Dollar Store
Some dollar stores are like scaled down grocery stores and may offer a good selection. They’re a good place to stock up on staples such as flour and sugar, as well as canned goods, shampoo and soap. Some also carry milk, eggs, butter and produce. However, most items may only available in the smallest size, so you may find better deals on the larger sizes at your regular store. Also check the labels closely. I once thought I’d  gotten a really good deal on olive oil, but it turned out it to be vegetable oil with only 1% olive oil.
Forget Brand Loyalty
My mother taught me to take my time and compare prices. She said name brand items, even when on sale, usually cost more than the generic store brand. Most of the time the store brands are just as good. (The only exception I’ve found is dishwashing detergent.) My mother’s advice remains true today. Think about it. Advertising is expensive, and the food manufactures pass the cost onto you. So forget brand loyalty. They’re not exactly being loyal to you.
Coupons Aren’t Always a Bargain
When I was first starting out on my own I cut out all the grocery coupons from the Sunday paper, thinking I would save money. However, when I looked closer, I realized coupons weren’t as good of a bargain as they appeared. While they may you save some money, you should also take a closer look at the store brand. You may get a better deal with the store brand, even with the coupon.
Watch for Sales
My mother always watched for sales and weekly specials, particularly in the fresh meat and produce isles. Fresh meat and poultry freezes well. She also looked for bargains in the canned food isles. If something was on sale, she stocked up. By the way, if you do your own canning you can save money stocking up on fresh fruits and making your own jams and jellies. And don’t be afraid to try homes canning. I’ll walk you through it, so Yes You Can Can.
Grow Your Own
Seeds are cheap, so if you have a yard try planting tomatoes or squash instead of daisies. Gardening can be a lot of fun, and if you only have a small patio you can use a planter box. It’s a fun activity the whole family can participate in, and it’s a great way to teach your kids where food comes from.
Beware of Impulse Buying
If impulse buying were and Olympic event, I’d be a gold medalist. Did you know there’s a science behind the way items are displayed in the grocery store? There actually is, and it’s used to trick you into buy more. My advice is to have a grocery list and stick to it. I started buying my groceries online long before the Covid pandemic and it really reduces the temptation. You can do curbside pickups of have them delivered, whichever way you prefer. Online shopping is easy and convenient, and it too can help you save money.
So there you have it, and every little bit helps.
Gayle Martin

Grocery Shopping Lessons

I learned from my mother
© Can Stock Photo/

People are funny. Not “ha-ha” funny. More like, bizarre, funny. Being an author, I have no choice but to be on social media, and for years I’ve seen all kinds of posts, comments and memes belittling those who choose to prepare for an unexpected emergency. They’re called, preppers, conspiracy theorists and tin foil hat wearers.

People are mean-spirited and judgemental. That is, until some unexpected emergency, such as coronavirus, comes along. Then guess who’s panicking and grabbing up all the toilet paper and hand sanitizer? The very same people who made fun of the preppers and their tin foil hats.

We’ve become spoiled

Too many people honestly believe that food somehow magically appears in the grocery store. It doesn’t. The grocery store is the end of a long chain which begins on the farm, and farming is a high risk business. Droughts, floods, freezes, and pests such as locusts, can destroy crops, which means less availability and higher prices. In a worst case scenario they can create a shortage. Other factors, such as labor disputes, can effect the food supply as well. We’ve also become spoiled. Very spoiled. Thanks to modern technology, American grocery shelves all always full. Even seasonal fruits and vegetables, once only available certain times of the year, are now available virtually year round, thanks to modern food distribution.

It’s happened before

There was a time, however, in recent history, when the American food supply was disrupted, and I wrote Rosie’s Riveting Recipes to teach people about this period of history. It was during WWII, and the U.S. government had to come up with a plan to discourage hoarding and help prevent shortages. Their solution was rationing, and my article, Food Rationing During WWII, at the top of this blog, explains it in more detail.

My mother grew up during WWII. She said that even with food rationing, grocery store shelves were often bare. This experience certainly impacted her, and as an adult, and one of the things she taught me was how to shop wisely. This included not buying the name brand if the lesser known brand was cheaper. She also taught me to stock up whenever something was a sale. If there was a special on canned corn, she bought a few extra cans and put them in the pantry for later. It didn’t make her a tin foil hat hoarder. She was simply stretching her dollar, and her advice holds true today. If you only need one can of corn, and it’s on sale, buy an extra can or two, even if you don’t need it right now. Same goes for canned peas or tuna fish. Stuff happens, and it’s always nice to have a little extra food and supplies on hand, just in case.

Gayle Martin


Cover photo by Robert Resetar.

Rosie’s Riveting Recipes is available on Amazon and