Compared to processed foods like Oreos or Wheat Thins, fresh foods can swing wildly in price from month to month. The Tribune gathered and analyzed prices on 30 typical grocery items to come up with this advice.
Bacon: Varied $1.84 per pound depending on the week, so wait for sales. Sweetbay generally has the lowest average price, but its cheapest bacon may not be to your liking.
Bananas: Almost never on sale, but very stable over two years. Walmart generally has lowest average price – about 52 cents per pound.
Butter: Tops the list for price inflation, up 58 percent in the last two years. Walmart generally has lowest average price.
Bologna: Lucky you. Prices are down 28 percent in two years. Walmart generally has lowest average price, but as with bacon, the cheapest stuff may not be for you.
Coffee: Varied $1.77 per 11.3-ounce pack of Folgers, and it's up 46 percent in two years, so stock up when you see sales. Sweetbay generally has lowest average price.
Ground Beef: Can vary widely in price, so buy on sale and freeze for later. Walmart generally has the lowest average price among stores.
Lettuce: Very stable prices, so don't bother waiting for sales. Target generally has lowest price.
Milk: Prices have risen at a steady pace by 35 percent in the past two years. So if there's a promotional sale, its rare; jump on it. Walmart generally has the lowest price.
Strawberries: Very seasonal prices, falling to $1.79 per pack in April 2010 and rising to $4.37 in November 2010, so wait for spring sales and stock your freezer. Walmart generally has lowest average price among stores.
Tomatoes: Tomatoes don't freeze well, so skip the salads in March and April when prices are high and wait until summer when there's a glut of supply.