How Not to Save Money on Groceries: A Story

Now I’ve shown you my strategies for frugal grocery shopping. Last year, my local Ralph’s tried to circumvent my attempts. They redesigned the store and then held a grand re-opening. I was not impressed. In addition to the existing deli, floral counter, and fish counter, they added a meat counter, Coffee Bean, gourmet cheese and olive counter, and pharmacy.

How did they make room for all of this without increasing square footage? They took out some of the staple food items. That’s right, there are now giant islands of pre-packaged and processed food with way too much walking space between them and only five half-length aisles of the basic food products like canned goods, bread, and other low-dollar items. They left plenty of room for frozen goods, high-dollar organic foods, beverages, food storage supplies, junk food, and miscellaneous home goods.

Just about the only section that would be of use to me is the new meat counter. The basic packaged cheeses, like cheddar or feta, and other related items are now scattered in three sections of the store. The produce section looks lovely, but there seems to be less actual produce and more walking space.

Why Don’t Grocery Stores Sell Groceries Anymore?

It seems to me that this Ralph’s isn’t particularly interested in being a grocery store anymore. It wants to be a giant convenience store selling everything you need in one place, but not selling all those staple items that actually keep the average family’s food costs down. They seem to be saying, “Why buy a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter when our deli will make you a giant sandwich for only $4.99? Why buy canned artichoke hearts when you can find an entire artichoke heart salad in our giant salad bar for only $6.99 a pound?”

I understand that grocery stores need to make money, and I do live in a neighborhood where a lot of people stop in to buy pre-made food, but there has to be something left for those of us who shop and prepare food the old-fashioned way.

What to Do If Your Grocery Store Changes

Fortunately, there’s another Ralph’s not too far away. It’s much bigger and still carries most of the stuff I need. It takes me a few extra minutes to get there and back, but it’s better than not finding what I need. I also switched most of my products to the farmer’s market and Trader Joe’s.

When you’re grocery store decides to stop selling groceries, no amount of complaining will fix the problem. (I tried. The employees tried. Ralph’s is set on this new, anti-food plan.) The best you can do is find another store.

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