How to find affordable groceries in Madison area

There is no shortage of grocery stores across the metro area. That, of course, means a lot of choices for how you feed your family.

Marcy Degreef is always in search of the best deals at the grocery store, but what makes it even more difficult is that the mother of two wants to find local produce and local meat, especially.

“It’s just nice buying things that are fresh,” Degreef said. “Trying to feed a family of four, you do try to take advantage of sales when you can.”

She says she usually ends up at the Willy Street Co-op, where she can buy just the right amount of food she needs to feed her family.

“Most importantly, I usually look for local farms, and from there, I may price out between a couple of different places,” Degreef added.

The co-op’s Brendon Smith says you often get better deals buying from the bulk aisle because of the savings on packaging and transportation.

“Sometimes bulk means buying 12 or 24 things, but for us it means buying as much or as little as you need,” Smith explained. “If you need just a tablespoon of cinnamon or cup of flour, you can buy just that amount.”

That’s also one of the tips registered dietitian and nutritionist Emmy Bawden, with Real Good Nutrition, has for grocery shoppers, but before you go to the store, your work starts at home.

“The first thing that I do myself is look up the deals, whether it’s the grocery store’s weekly circular or the deals that are in the grocery store’s own app,” Bawden said.

Then she says you find what’s right for you and your family. So if produce is your focus, Bawden says find what store has your favorite products and go from there. Also, don’t skip the frozen foods aisle because it can save you time and money.

“Frozen foods can be picked at their prime and frozen at their prime,” she added. “They’re shipped frozen, so they retain their nutritional value, and being picked at their prime, they often have a high nutritional value to start with.”

If you’re really trying to save money, Bawden encourages folks to shop local.

“Shopping local can save you some money, and it can ensure that products don’t take a long time to get to you,” Bawden explained. “That can retain a lot of the nutritional value, too, plus it supports local businesses, which is always a good thing.”

That means staying away from “meal-kit delivery” companies you often see online, even though the food conveniently comes right to your door with all the ingredients.

“I think that you can get a lot more bang for your buck if you’re purchasing your own ingredients and making your own meal out of them versus getting those ingredients precut, prechopped and prepackaged sent to you,” she added. “That really ups the price tag without upping the portion size, too.”

Degreef says she will continue to find the best deals and shop locally.

“I very well like knowing where the food comes from,” Degreef said.

She encourages others not to take the abundance of options for granted after living in parts of the country where it just didn’t exist.

“Accessibility is huge here to be able to get those things,” Degreef added. “Unless you can grow it yourself, which is obviously the best way to do it, but we don’t have time for that.”

If you have any questions on how to save at the grocery store, Bawden has more advice for consumers on her website.

We hope to keep this conversation going about prices in Madison. News 3 Now wants to know what kind of affordability questions you have or what you’re experiencing. Let Josh Spreiter know by emailing him or reaching out to him on his Facebook page.

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