I am a fan of upscale grocery stores. They have wide aisles and beautiful displays. They tend to offer in-store amenities and samples. They usually offer superior customer service. AND - they save us money.
In our family, we don't abide by the "eat everything on your plate" mentality. In fact, we adopt quite a different philosophy: "Eat delicious, healthful foods until you are full." If we buy rolls and they end up being stale, we throw them away. If I go to a dinner party, sample a truffle, and don't care for it...I (discreetly) throw it away. If I order something at a restaurant and find that the side dish is salty and unsatisfying, I leave it on my plate.
It is important to clarify that our family does not invite complaint, rudeness, or unnecessary waste to sit at our table. We are teaching our girls to say "please," "you're welcome," "excuse me" and - especially - "thank you." We encourage them to try new foods and, if they don't like something, to eat other foods quietly. We strive to lead by example in practicing these principles.
The purpose of food is twofold: to nourish us AND to be enjoyed.
We save money when we buy from high-quality food vendors (upscale grocery stores, independent bakeries, farmer's markets, health food stores) because we tend to eat all of the food. The produce is more likely to be ripe and in-season. The meat is more likely to be organic and unadulterated. The bread is more likely to be fresh and heavenly. We eat every last morsel - or save the rest for leftovers (which we actually eat). Zero waste. Plus, our bodies feel alive and energetic (rather than sluggish from eating processed, hormoned, salted, and high-fructosed foods).
Over the years, we have acquired a taste for good-for-you food. Our girls love peas, corn, broccoli, pears, peaches, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh bread, and whole milk.
One time, when we were very busy, we took the girls to Chic-Fil-A and ordered a kids meal. Our 4-year-old took about 2 bites of the chicken nuggets and fries, and then said quietly, "This doesn't taste good." Touché. I didn't have the heart to make them finish.
Another time, we bought a smoothie from a fast-food place. "Our smoothies are better," our 4-year-old declared after a few sips. Maybe because they actually have fruit in them?!
When we drive by Burger King or a similar establishment, they wrinkle their noses, "What's that smell?"
Even on a meager budget, eating well is possible. Think: rice, beans, frozen veggies, made-from-scratch baked goods, and as much produce as you can manage (look into co-ops and CSA's).
We save money at better grocery stores because the quality of the food is better...which means that we waste less and also stay healthier (less illness; fewer doctor's visits). Food is medicine, after all. I do believe that.
* We also cut corners by limiting meat consumption, eating simple meals, and - most importantly - eating IN.
How do you save money at the grocery store? Please share your expertise. (I'm still looking for ways to bring our monthly total down a notch).