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Grocery stores and supermarkets are convenient.  However, have you ever considered what goes into the cost of foods that you buy?  Below are some behind-the-scenes general expenses.

Trucking company expenses to get products to stores include:

  • Truck payment (amortized)
  • Property lease
  • Equipment: fork lifts, hand trucks
  • Collision/accident insurance
  • Trucking office lease
  • Trucking staff health insurance
  • Permits, licenses, parking expenses, fuel, tolls
  • Tires, truck maintenance, repairs, lodging and meals, taxes, etc.
  • Drivers’ salaries
  • Markup research: to remain competitive with other trucking companies

Store expenses include:

  • Property lease, taxes, insurance, licenses, permits, registrations, security, parking lots,
  • Utilities, waste removal (what they do with expired or spoiled food items)
  • Equipment: hand trucks, Point of Sale [cash registers], freezers and refrigerators, display cases, slicers for deli counters, etc.
  • Suppliers
  • Advertising
  • Labor: Salaries and benefits for checkout workers, stock clerks, deli and bakery counter employees and supervisors
  • Markup Research: prices must be in line with competition

History repeats itself.  As the general public has learned more about health-related information, they are searching for the best ways to provide safe and healthy foods.  The topic of saving money never changes.  Butchers, fishmongers & fish markets, farmers’ markets, and bakeries are all making a comeback and revitalized as a result of supermarket criticism.

All will add variety to your normal routine. Get to know the various types of markets and the owners.  They are a wealth of information because the business is their livelihood.  They know that if you like what you get from them, that you will return.  Some of the best deals (freshest foods, cheaper prices, better quality, etc.) are at merchants that specialize in just one product.

Farmers’ Markets

Both Street Markets and Public Markets are useful.  You just need to know what items are better to get at each of the markets.  Street Markets are almost always best for produce.  Sometimes seafood vendors attend Street Markets.  We recently got colossal size shrimp for $15/pound.  Normally colossal size shrimp costs anywhere from $21 to $25 at supermarkets.  We got about 25 pounds of different kinds of produce for $15.  We go to public markets to get things like spices and seasonings.  I got 4 ounces of Spanish Paprika at a public market for $2.50.  I just checked Walmart and 1.62 ounces of paprika costs $5.98.

Only get the amount of fruits & vegetables that you will definitely use.  That means, you need to know what recipes you will be using for those items.

Resources

Seafood/Fishmongers

Sometimes you can get different kinds of seafood cheaper at farmers’ markets.  As noted above, I got Colossal Shrimp for $15/pound at a local farmers’ market here, in Southwest Florida.

There are other places to get fresh, safe, sustainable seafood.  A healthy diet includes a variety of seafood.

If you live near a shoreline anywhere in the United States, this is a snap because fishmongers will be all over the place.

However, for those of us who are not near a shoreline, an excellent resource is Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program has a free app.  Use the link to find seafood near you (that is sustainable seafood).

Monterey Bay Aquarium also provides Consumer Guides so you can find sustainable seafood in every state.  You can also find partner stores of Monterey Bay Aquarium

Some stores such as Whole Foods has excellent sustainable seafood and their sale prices are great.  In fact, we have found that seafood sale prices make some of their seafood much cheaper than any other market we go to.  Sockeye Salmon was one of those sales.  I struggle to like seafood and my son has made it a challenge to find different kinds of fish that I like.  I always thought that salmon was very fishy tasting.  I have learned several things, complements of my son: fresh seafood always tastes “less fishy”.  Lighter colored fish is always “less fishy-tasting” than darker colored fish.  Even though I had salmon before, I had never had Sockeye Salmon – which I thought was excellent!  And we got it from a sale at Whole Foods.

My point in telling you that is – do not avoid a store because it is a more expensive store.  Talk with the staff behind the counters – like we did at Whole Foods.  Explain what you are looking for and want to accomplish.  That is how we were directed to Sockeye Salmon.

One more perk for Whole Foods (no – I don’t get a commission from them!) is they provide Non-GMO foods.

Resources to help learn about seafood:

Butcher (Beef, Chicken, and Pork)

Many local butchers will not have a website or advertise on social networks.  Many of the best butcher shops do not have to try to find customers.  Customers find them!  You may have to do some digging to find a good, local butcher.  Some suggestions to help with your search are:

  • Contact a fine dining restaurant to ask where they get their meat from.  My son owned a restaurant and his chef not only bought from local farms for produce but he would only buy meats from local vendors.  And, he wanted the freshest and best quality meat he could find.
  • Ask vendors at farmers’ markets that you go to which local butchers they would recommend.
  • EatWild: Getting Wild Nutrition from Modern Food
  • EatWild: Guide to U.S., Canadian, and International Farms and Ranches
  • Each state provides a wealth of information including a “Beyond the Farm” link at the top right of each page.  When you click on that, you are taken to a page that provides information about buying clubs,
  • Local Meat Market: Click on your state to get a list of all the meat markets in your state.  You can filter by clicking on the CITY link near the top for meat markets only in your city.
  • Butcher Shops Near Me: provides the information by regions of the United States.  Find your state in the region and then you can sort by city.

Bakeries

Fresh-baked items are always wonderful.  Although you can get bread at a grocery store or supermarket, the flavor of fresh-baked bread is totally different.  One of my favorite routines was to stop at a bakery to get fresh-baked bread and then to a fishmonger on the way home from work every other Friday.

A tip that I learned was that many bakeries reduce the price of their bread shortly before they close the store for the day.  They will make more bread the next morning.

One other tip: you need nerves of steel because it is next to impossible to go into a bakery that smells so wonderful and leave that bakery ONLY buying the ONE item you went into the store for!!!

Dollar Stores

Dollar stores are like gold mines.  Their stock always changes so you cannot expect that the same items will always be available.  However, you can get many products to use around home for cheaper than many other stores.  Many sell brand-name products and they also accept manufacturer’s coupons!  You still have to know your prices and be aware that everything it not always just $1.  The three top dollar stores compete with Costco, Walmart, and Target.

Although there may be many dollar stores, the three that I know best are Dollar General, Dollar Tree, and Family Dollar.  There are approximately 13,000 Dollar General stores throughout 44 states.  The exceptions are Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Washington, and Wyoming.  There are approximately 8,000 Family Dollar stores in 46 states.  The exceptions are Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington.  There are approximately 13,600 Dollar Tree stores in all 48 contiguous states.  Family Dollar is now owned by Dollar Tree.

 

TAKE ACTION: Find at least one Farmers’ Market, Fishmonger/Fish Market, Butcher, Baker, and Dollar Store to check out the products they each sell.

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Updated: July 19, 2017 — 5:49 am

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