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More Grocery Store Tips

Nancy Trejos

A couple of Saturdays ago, our frugal intern Emma L. Carew wrote about making private-label purchases at the grocery store. A lot of you commented and e-mailed Emma with some suggestions. She'd like to share them with you. Here goes:

Wow, props to the commenters out there. It seems like a lot of you make your own salad dressings. I’ve never had much luck in the past with that (and I actually home cook a ton of things most people probably buy each week! Pasta sauce, chicken stock and cake frosting, to name a few), but I’m willing to give it another try. That’s the beauty of the topic, which was sorting out that each person has his or her own quirks and priorities when grocery shopping on a budget.

Sharon from Gaithersburg had some thoughts about this: The one thing that I will NOT compromise with is my Hershey brand chocolate syrup. One time the store manager at my local Giant convinced me to buy the store brand by saying it was made by Hershey’s. NO WAY. I’ll never do that again.

Anna from Arlington: I hope I’m not the only person to point out the alternative to brand-name paper towels. Rags are a higher-quality product that costs nothing at all. They’re much tougher than paper towels — you can really scrub with them. You get them by ripping worn-out clothes or towels into handy-sized rectangles. Sometimes rags get worn out, or just stained and nasty-looking, but it’s easy to maintain a supply by ripping stuff up as it wears out. We store our rags in a box under the kitchen sink.

(NOTE: I actually used to do this! I had about a dozen wash cloths I bought in college, and kept the clean ones in a cute wooden crate that used to hold clementines. Unfortunately over the years they’ve gotten ruined/lost and I never invested in new ones)

Sue from Reston: I’m a huge fan of store brands, but I must have my Charmin Ultra Soft. Period.
Additionally, I “splurge” on farmers’ market bacon and real cheeses. I find that there’s more meat than fat after the cooking is done, so the net price is almost the same. The additional flavor more than makes up for the small price difference. Add to that knowing that you’re supporting a neighbor — it works for me.

Dorothy from Front Royal, Virginia (a mother of 10): I buy whatever cereal is on sale, at the cheapest price per pound. Sometimes the name brand will be cheaper, with a coupon. I always buy real butter, string cheese and real maple syrup, usually from Costco.

Harise from Silver Spring: For spaghetti, I’ve been using Barilla Plus, a half way gesture towards healthier pasta, as we interpret the suggested serving size of a tennis ball to be a jest, and a bowling ball is more what it turns out to be. I did notice at Harris Teeter recently, a HT version of that pasta and I will try it on my next spaghetti dinner, it’s a big bargain and I have high hopes for it, as the HT brands I’ve tried have been good so far.

So if anyone out there has a great (and I mean great) homemade salad dressing recipe, I’m all ears at

By Nancy Trejos  |  August 5, 2009; 2:15 PM ET
Categories:  Bargains , Meals & Food , Nancy Trejos  
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