When I was shopping at Hi-Lite Supermarket during my lunch break today, another shopper noticed the Sunny D I had in my cart and asked if I had seen the low-sugar variety on sale shelf.

No, I hadn’t. Then again, my husband is the one who likes Sunny D and he likes the original variety. When I see it for $1 or less, I get one or two.

“I never see that one on the sales,” she said about the drink variety she wanted for her grandchildren.

“Well,” I replied, “find your savings on something else, and then you can afford the one you want.”

Mind you, Hi-Lite store has some VERY GOOD DEALS this week including 69 cents for a dozen eggs and 59 cents for Mueller’s spaghetti boxes. And we were standing near both of those selections.

“I know,” she said, and sighed.

Obviously, my answer wasn’t the answer she wanted. But it’s the one that works.

Here’s an example based on a deal I did at Meijer early today: 3 packages Oreo cookies with a free gallon of milk for a total cost of $6.75. The cookies were $2.50 a package. I also had a 75-cent off Nabisco coupon.

Would you rather have free cookies, or free milk? Well, if you’re buying milk anyway, the promotion sign and advertisements that says free milk when you buy three packages of cookies might not seem worth the fuss.

But if you turned it around and figured out that two packages of cookies plus one gallon of milk is right about one free package of cookies, um, yeah, any Oreo fan would like that.

So don’t get too caught up on the price of one item – or even just one cash register receipt. Even my week to week expenses can and do vary, depending on the sales and promotions that are available, what we are interested in eating, and how much cash flow I have during that pay cycle.

Instead: pay attention to your average monthly grocery expenses. If your monthly expenses hit at or below “thrifty” for your family size and demographics on the U.S. Department of Agriculture charts, then you are doing good.

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