Dear Joe and Vicki: What can we do to reduce food costs on the road? My husband and I plan to spend several months traveling in our motorhome. We're always looking for ways to save money. At home I know where the less expensive grocery stores are located and I can control the amount of money I spend on food. Any tips would be appreciated.
Joe: When it comes to food shopping, my job is to push the shopping cart and carry in the groceries.
Vicki: Not only do we try to keep our food costs down, we are also aware of the differences in the foods that are available in various parts of the country. There are grocery items available at our home in Southern California that we know we won't be able to find in other places. We stock up on those items to take with us.
We always start out with several cans of Yuban coffee, for example. It's not available in every part of the country. And, because we especially like Mexican food, we always begin with our freezer full of our favorite chorizo. Enough to last throughout the trip.
As we travel, we try to make the most of the foods native to each section of the country. They usually cost less than in other areas. We look forward to the pork in Arkansas, citrus fruits in Florida, seafood along the coastal areas, peaches and pecans in Georgia and South Carolina. We love the roadside stands that sell fresh corn, tomatoes and other vegetables. Many work on the honor system, with just a sign telling the price of each item and a coffee can for purchasers to drop money into.
As you travel, you will also become familiar with the different chain supermarkets in the various parts of the country. I look for Shaw's in New England, Wegman's in the northeast, Kroger's in the mid-atlantic, Harris Teeter in the south, Publix in Florida, Meijer in the mid-west, Safeway in the west, Vons in Southern California, Fred Meyers in the northwest and, of course, Wal-Mart Supercenters all over the country.
We also have an assortment of supermarket-chain discount cards that provide additional savings. You name a supermarket with a discount card and I'll bet their card is in our RV.
I'm also a coupon clipper, whether at home or on the road. If I spot a store that doubles the value of coupons, I check it out. Every Sunday we buy a local newspaper. The grocery coupons more than pay for the newspaper. In addition, by glancing at the grocery ads for each store, we can get a feel for their prices. As a bonus, the newspaper provides us with a TV listing for the week. Not bad for the price of a Sunday newspaper!
Plan on spending more time grocery shopping on the road than you do at home. Brand names vary from one part of the country to another. It may take a while to figure out which to buy. Also, there doesn't seem to be a really consistent floor plan for supermarkets. We usually have to go up and down every single aisle to find what we’re looking for.
Joe: And, once in a while, when Vicki isn't looking, I toss a bag of cookies into the grocery cart.
Joe and Vicki are the authors of a number of books and e-books about RVs, RVers and RVing.
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