Where to buy food on a budget

Many people forget that there are many options when food shopping. When shopping, weigh the pros and cons of each institution before choosing what to buy where.

The Megamart

The megamart includes any store that attempts to be a one-stop shopping center. Examples: Walmart, Target, Kmart, etc.

Pros: many items have a lower starting price making the initial value better at the megamart, there is a large supply of items in stock at all times, it is convenient to do all shopping at one location, some items are offered in bulk.

Cons: The freshness of some items can be questionable (from my personal experience), some items will never go on sale so the base price is not as good as a sale item elsewhere, specialty items cannot typically be found in stock at all.

The Supermarket

The traditional food shopping institution. The focus is on food items although they typically do stock some household items as well. Examples: Publix, Food Lion, Albertson's, etc.

Pros: There is a large selection of food varieties, coupons can be found in the newspaper further reducing the cost of an item, every week items go on sale.

Cons: The price can be higher than a megamart if the item isn't on sale, most things are in smaller packaging not allowing for a bulk discount, specialty items and ethnic foods can still be difficult to find.

Farmer/Flea Market

The gathering of local vendors and farmers selling assorted items and produce.

Pros: it is the freshest food you can get without growing it yourself, you are supporting your local farmers, the price can lower than a megamart or supermarket, it is possible to haggle if you feel the need.

Cons: the variety of items can be small since the items are locally grown, some items are more expensive than the megamart or supermarket, it may require further travel to get to the farmers market location, the market is only open certain hours usually one day a week.

Specialty/Ethnic Store

A store that focuses on a certain type of item. Examples: Asian markets, Organic food stores, etc.

Pros: if you are looking for a specific item you can head exactly to a store where it is sold, some specialty stores supply foods grown locally, the price can be lower.

Cons: you cannot get everything you want at a specialty store, the price can be higher (listed as a pro and con because it depends on the specialty store), sometimes there is not a specialty store of the sort you are looking for.