the great food experiment, part 1

I had six days off this week (well, actually seven if you count the night that I was on-call), and when I have a lot of time off, I tend to go on mini-rampages regarding various things.  This time, it was how to save money without giving things up.I discovered that Amazon sells groceries (I think I knew that already, so technically I re-discovered it...but still).  The more I looked at all their food, mostly packaged and non-perishables, I started to wonder if it was actually cheaper than buying groceries at Costco or Fred Meyer.  Then one of my friends posted on Facebook about she went "extreme couponing" and saved a bunch of money.  Now, I'm lazy and I live in Alaska (which is expensive and lacks many of the couponing resources of the rest of the country), so I will never be an extreme couponer (or even a couponer for that matter), but the whole thing got me thinking about how I could save money on groceries. First, I started by creating a spreadsheet of most of the food we buy.  It will be a continually growing list because I can't always remember everything (lame...I know).  Some lady in Washington (who was even more ambitious than me), made a similar spreadsheet of all the grocery type items at her Costco and posted it on the internets, so I used that for a lot of the things I couldn't find on the last two Costco receipts.  In doing that, I discovered that we pay an average of 3-5% more here than in WA (no surprise there), unless you buy cereal...that was 12% more expensive.  So my prices are not 100% accurate, but they are a good starting point.  The next thing I did was look on Amazon at the items we buy at Costco and added those prices to my spreadsheet.  Costco is generally a better deal.  Then I went to Fred's and looked at all the things we buy there and compared those prices to Amazon prices.  In that case, Amazon was generally a better deal. I included some food items that I don't normally purchase because of their cost.  These are items such as steel cut oats (or Scottish oatmeal), Kashi cereal, or Bear Naked granola.  I would like to start eating these because they are generally "cleaner" food choices than what I normally eat (regular oatmeal and cereal).  But I refuse to pay almost $6 a bag for granola, clean or not. Stay tuned for part 2! Interesting side note: The USDA has a section on their website where they list the "Current Cost of Food at Home." It lists the average that varying sizes of families spend on food each month.  It's broken down into four categories from the "Thrifty" plan to the "Liberal" plan.  Alaska and Hawaii have their own data since we are special.