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Hey Converts! I thought I would start a series all about what to buy and not to buy from certain stores. I’m hoping that this helps you navigate your grocery deals better and save more money each week.
When I discovered these little tips, I couldn’t shut up about them with my friends. I’m also known to call my family and friends to announce when there’s a crazy sale on a common item, like chicken breasts. By crazy sale, I mean 77 cents a lb. of bone-in chicken breast!
But, today, I want to enlighten you about international markets. They are such an underutilized resource of goodness and so many of you don’t even know they exist, or at the very least, you only go in for one or two items.
If you don’t live near an international market, you may still find deals like these at the farmer’s market. But, to be quite honest, the international markets have the lowest prices I’ve seen for these items.
I’m lucky that I live about 3 miles away from an international superstore. It’s huge, has all my Middle-Eastern ingredients and has the lowest prices within a 10 mile radius.
Before I moved, I had to trek 45 miles one way to go to the nearest location of this market. I made the trip about once a month and made sure to take the car with the biggest trunk to fit the thousand bags I left with.
Now that it’s about 3 miles away, I go at least once a week to pick up my groceries and I get to stock up on all of the sales!
This one store has led me to saving hundreds of dollars per month. I can literally buy all of my produce, deli, and some of my meat products, and still walk out with a bill that is between $30 and $50 every time. No joke!! Did I mention that I live in California where grocery prices tend to be higher than average? Yup, and even then, I can still save a ton of money here.
Okay, I’m not going to make you wait much longer. Here is the list of my 7 items that I always pick up from the international market, that have saved me thousands of dollars per year.
Every week, they have a plethora of choices for seasonal delicious fruit, I just can’t get enough! I always look at the ads before I go shopping, but even if I didn’t, I can usually tell when there’s a good deal because there tends to be a crowd of people around the item. The other day, there was a swarm of people around the cactus fruit, one of Mr. FC’s favorites, so we picked up 6 for 99 cents! He ate every last one and kept offering some to me, exclaiming how deliciously sweet they were. But, alas, I am not a cactus fruit kinda girl, ha ha.
International markets are known for their great deals on fruit, especially the seasonal variety. I pay 99 cents for 5 pounds of watermelon, strawberries for 99 cents for a 1 lb. container, and even avocados for a buck each.
If you’ve never tried shopping at the international market, try this aisle first and you’ll be sold, I promise.
#2-Vegetables and produce
Just like the fruit, their vegetable options are great. I find even spaghetti squash for about $1.50 each and potatoes are $2.29 for a 10 lb. bag! Onions go on sale regularly at 5 lbs for a dollar and celery is at its cheapest at 5 stocks for a dollar, that’s 20 cents each. I love all of the savings I get to enjoy when I shop at the international markets.
Of course, I have to mention that international markets are known for their awesome deals on international food. If you shop at a Mexican international market, you’ll often find fresh tortilla chips, ceviche (a salt-cured seafood dish), guacamole, and other terrific foods for much cheaper than if you went to a national grocery store.
Similarly, at my international market, I find the best deals on Middle Eastern food. Pita bread goes on sale at 69 cents for a bag of 6, kalamata olives are about $2-$3 for a lb. and my favorite feta cheese is $3 a lb. I’m telling ya, you won’t find pita bread or any of these awesome finds anywhere cheaper, and if you do, make sure to leave it in the comments!
#4-Meat and Poultry
I don’t always buy my meat from the international market, but when its on a crazy sale, I like to stock up. If you’ve been part of the frugal convert community for a while, you already know we have a full upright freezer where I store all of my awesome stock up deals. This helps me take advantage of all of the sales and deals that periodically hit stores.
I tend to buy my braising meats and chicken from here. I buy roast meat for the slow cooker, ribs, carne asada and marinated chicken thighs for the bbq.
The premium cuts, I leave to Costco, since I can’t seem to find better quality for the price. If you have tips on how we could save more on meat, let me know. I’m always ready to learn from you!
Spices are expensive, anywhere you go. International markets tend to be the cheapest place to get spices that I know of. I buy cumin, turmeric, cayenne, even cinnamon from there. The trick is to buy the spices in the bag, they come out to less than $2 for 8 oz. Every time I go to the national grocery stores, I browse through the spice aisle just to make sure I’m still getting a good deal. At $4 for a small container of cumin, I think I’m doing pretty good at the international market.
#6-International cheese and Deli Meat
This is not to say that they don’t carry the classic cheeses, but they seem to have better deals on cheeses like feta, Gouda, mozzarella, and muenster. Maybe it’s because the majority of shoppers here tend to buy these items, so they’re able to make up the price with volume? I don’t know for sure, but if its one thing I know, its that I never buy international cheese from anywhere else.
Except for brie. I get my brie from Costco, no other place has EVER given me the same amount for even close to that price. Just sayin’.
International or classic, their deli meat often goes on sale and the line is usually 15 minutes long on average. They offer more variety than the deli at the grocery food chain and it’s usually more fresh because they have so much foot traffic.
Occasionally, I find that the deli meat might go bad faster, but just stick it in the freezer if you don’t plan on using it within the week. It will last much longer in there.
I’ve already mentioned how awesome their deals are for pita bread, but I’ve gotten bagels from the international market for as low as 99 cents a bag. You better believe I bought 10 bags that day (again, thank you upright freezer for making all of this stocking up possible).
They also carry Mexican sweet bread, pastries and cakes.
Last week, my mom and I were shopping there and were already in line when she spotted a full banana nut cake on sale for $1.99. Perhaps you can make it 50 cents cheaper at home, but the thought of not having to turn on the oven on a hot summer day makes me happy!