I worked my way around the store. I try to shop frugally and compare prices so it takes me a while. I'm not a name-brand snob. I'm more than happy to buy an off brand if it saves money. My first stop was the milk. I always buy the off brand milk which is generally about 20 cents cheaper per gallon. Though today I was pretty disgusted to find that all the milks went up in price. *sigh* Then I got to the eggs and compared prices for a 1.5 dozen large eggs, verses 1 dozen large eggs. Normally most people consider it cheaper to buy the larger quantity. But did you know that it's actually cheaper to buy 2 of the smaller packages in some cases? Eggs (at least at our grocery store) are one example. For 1.5 dozen it was 2.78, but to buy two 1 dozen it added up to only 2.56; which means I was getting 24 eggs for cheaper than I would have gotten 18. Same with fruit snacks. For a 1 package of 20 fruit snacks it is over 3 dollars (I can't remember the exact price) but to buy 2 packages of 10 it only adds up 3 dollars even. Though many things are cheaper to buy them in the larger quantity. Toilet paper is one example. It is cheaper to buy the pack of 12 rolls verses buying three packs of 4 rolls. But of course, even with toilet paper you have to be careful. The Scott Soft brand, which is what I buy, has a 24 roll pack that looks so cheap at 7 something, compared to the 12 pack that is 5 something. But when you look closely you'll see that the amount on each roll on the 24 pack is significantly less than that on the rolls of the 12 pack. Though you are getting more rolls, you are actually getting less toilet paper. So you are actually paying about 2 bucks more for less.
Of course there is also the business of coupons. I have found that many times it is still cheaper to buy the off brand than it is to buy the name brand with a coupon. (* I don't have a grocery store nearby that doubles coupons. I may feel differently if I did) One example that comes to mind is Pillsbury crescent rolls. This is something I always like to have in my fridge because several of my favorite recipes use them. Anyway, one package of Pillsbury crescent rolls costs 1.76. There are sometimes coupons in the paper for 0.20 off one package, or 0.50 off 2 packages. The off brand crescent rolls is only 1.38, so even with either of those coupons it's still cheaper to get the off brand. I will admit, even I do prefer the taste of certain name brand items (e.g. certain cereals, crackers, mac & cheese, etc) and in those cases I do buy them with a coupon if I was lucky enough to find it, or if not, even without a coupon. It certainly isn't worth it to buy the off brand if it ends up tasting yucky and doesn't get eaten.
The last thing I want to bring up is those pre-made meals. Yes, I agree most of the time it is probably cheaper to make my own from scratch. I do make many of our meals from scratch, and I used to try to avoid the pre-made stuff. However, In my 5 years of being married I have discovered that I get in moods when the last thing I want to do is spend time making a meal from scratch, and if I don't have some quick & easy meal options I will tend to give in to ordering pizza or going out to a restaurant, which is ALWAYS more expensive. So I always make a point to have some of those pre-made meals on my list to prevent me from giving in to that money wasting temptation. Frozen pizza, meatballs, and stir fry's are some of my favorites.
So I guess the moral of this post is:
1. It pays off to spend the extra time it takes to compare prices.
2. It pays off to spend a little more money at the grocery store to avoid paying A LOT more at a restaurant.