couponing in the holy land

Frugal food shopping for the Anglo Israeli

Archive for the month “June, 2011”

Shufersal’s Italian sale

Shufersal has joined Mega with a sale on Italian food products. Click here to see the sale circular. One item on sale is Barilla pasta sauce: 3 for 19.99 shekels, a great deal.

Fine print:

  • The sale ends July 11 or when there is no more inventory, whichever comes first.
  • You need a Shufersal moadon card.
  • You must spend at least 75 shekels in the store (not including sale items).
  • Limit 2 sale items per purchase.

There is also a 2+1 sale on Italian products which does not have the 75 shekels minumum purchase and the limit of 2 sale items.



Big Deal- Kimat Chinam coupon- expires soon!

Click here to purchase a 70 shekel coupon for Kimat Chinam supermarket for only 35 shekels!

The fine print:

  • It can be used from July 3-August 2, 2011
  • One coupon per person
  • Eligible for use on sale and discounted items
  • Limited amount of coupons available

You have to enter your email address to see the deal.

Click here to find a branch near you.


Mega Bool Sale- second item for 1 shekel- June 15-July 2

Click here to see what’s available. 

Fine print:

  • Limit 3 items
  • minimum purchase of 50 shekels, not including sale items.

Online grocery shopping- you CAN do it!

One of the most attractive new ideas for a working mother (in or out of the house) is shopping online. Why waste time on lines and shlep groceries if you don’t have to? “Sure,” you say, “but who can afford it?”

Believe it or not, you CAN afford it. If you are a smart shopper.

The three main supermarket chains offer online shopping.  Rami Levy only delivers to Northern  Tel Aviv at this time.  Mega does not come to where I live either.  You can check here to see if Mega comes to your area.  That left me with Shufersal.

Shufersal Yashir’s website is here.  You can search by the sales or not. I, of course, shop the sales.  I was pleased to see that the sales are the same as what is advertised in the stores- that means that for sale items, it is equivalent to in-store shopping.

There is also a button called ״חיסכון נוסף ״ – “chisachon nosaf”- additional savings which are not listed in the stores. For example, I purchased aluminum foil at the sale price. In the additional savings section , they offered me a discount to purchase another package. So I did.

I did browse the non-sale items, and did find slightly higher prices than the store. For example, Shufersal brand shoko powder was 10.99 ₪ instead of the regular 7.99-8.99 ₪.

The delivery fee is 28 ₪ which is waived if you spend 750 ₪ or more.

As a new customer, I received a coupon book with 8 coupons for 25 ₪ each off my next purchases (can’t combine them).

Now for the most important part- delivery.

I was given a two hour window from within 12 hours until next week.

You have to check when the sale ends, though: if your delivery date is after the sale ends, you will pay regular price for those items on sale.

They came one-half hour into the window. The truck was not refrigerated, but the refrigerated and frozen items came with dry ice. The ice cream was soft, but the fruits were perfect and the non-food items were wrapped separately from the food items.

 They called that morning to tell me they were missing some items and asked if I would be willing to switch them for a similar item.  They will be sending them in a few days at not additional charge.

To summarize, you can be a frugal shopper and still shop online as long as you follow the following rules:

  1.  Use a Shufersal club card, preferably a credit card as well.
  2.   Only buy the sale items.
  3.  Spend over 750 ₪. 

Happy Shopping!

Mega weekly sales- June 26-July 8

Click here to see Mega’s “Viva Italia” sale circular.  The sale is only for YOU members- join for free  by clicking here.

Rami Levy weekly coupons- June 26-July 2

Mega’s weekly coupon June 26-July 2

Click here to print the coupon.

Can I trust the store brand? (the Milky switcheroo)

In a previous post, I said that I would delve deeper into the concept of generics, otherwise known as store brands, and why I like them so much.

As a frugal shopper, it is of the utmost importance to read the labels of whatever food item you buy, to know whether it is a good deal or not. Today we are going to compare labels to show you the differences between store brands and brand name items.

There are several big-name manufacturers in Israel, whose names we recognize on the label. But what about the store brands- who makes them and where?

Every processed product sold in Israel must have either the manufacturer’s name and contact information or a manufacturer’s code with the name and contact information of the distributor. The codes must be registered with and approved by Misrad HaKalkala, the governmental agency regarding trade and manufacture.

While I was in the store recently, I came across “Duli” brand tuna. Who ever heard of Duli?

duli-2 duli-1

As you can see, it says that it is manufactured by “K”- whoever that is.

Actually, K is the code for Starkist. You may also notice that this tuna has the same hashgacha as Starkist (Rabbanut Tirat HaCarmel) and also uses the GMP symbol which Starkist uses.

So right now I am feeling pretty good about Duli tuna, especially when it is a shekel a can cheaper than Starkist.  But whether it the same quality as the brand-name Starkist can or not I will have to let you know.

Both Globes and The Marker investigated the cost of store brands- otherwise known as generics.    For some reason Israelis don’t like generic products- they covered only 6.8% of the market this year as compared to 7.4% in 2012.  That is very low- especially when you compare it to America, where they are 22% of the market and Britain, where they are 45% of the market.  For the supermarkets, the generic brand earns them more money per sale so it is in their interest to push them to the consumer.

Purchasing generics is the only way to force companies to lower prices, says Rafi Shefer, who represents “HaMutag” brand.  Always purchasing the brand name but at sale prices won’t convince the industry to lower their prices, because they know that once you are “hooked” on a brand, you will purchase it even after the sale is over, but at the higher price.

So how much can you save by buying generics? According to Globes, up to 18% of your grocery bill.  Some products are up to 95% cheaper than the brand name product:

If you compare prices per store, you can see a dramatic difference:

OK, so the prices are much better.  But are the products edible?  Generics can come from several sources; small companies looking to get a foothold in the market, manufacturers in other countries such as Turkey, and even large companies here in Israel.  For example, you saw the Duli tuna is made by Starkist.  Shufersal tuna is made by Wiliger, Pri HaGalil manufactures Shufersal canned corn, and Maadanei Yechiam manufactures Shufersal deli meat.  Same products, different package, and up to 56% cheaper than the brand name product.

Some products are not such a great deal, however.  My family notices a definite difference in quality between most Sanfrost frozen vegetables and other generic brands. Some of my family members will eat generic shkedei marak but others refuse.

Now that we are educated consumers, it is time to return to the volatile Milky, which is sold for much cheaper in Berlin.  As we learned, you can’t compare brand name prices with generic product prices.  Because that is what the German “Milky” is- a discount brand manufactured for a discount supermarket, Aldi.  You can see the “Milky” pictures on a previous post– the pudding is manufactured by Ursi which is only sold in Aldi stores as written on the receipt.  Aldi stores are known around the world as deep discount supermarket.   You can read more about generic products sold in Germany here.  On the same web site, they list the Ursi chocolate pudding is manufactured by MBP Dairy Products GmbH.  To make this less confusing, I will make comparisons with Israeli product names:

Aldi = Victory or Osher Ad (not a completely equivalent comparison)

Ursi = “Hamutag” or “Kniyah Chachama”

MBP Dairy Products GmbH = Pri HaGalil or lower quality manufacturer

The take-home message of this post is not to be afraid of generics, but always read the label and know what the product is that you are purchasing.  Always compare apples with apples, although in this case it is pudding with pudding.  I don’t know if the Ursi generic is the same quality as the brand name Milky- it might be, but it is absolutely wrong to compare their prices.

Is Rami Levy really the cheapest supermarket?

Rami Levy has his devoted bargain-hunting followers who would never step foot in another store, period. While I have shopped in Rami Levy, and I know they can have some crazy low prices, I no longer do so. Here are some of the reasons:

1. I am a strong believer in the generic brand. I will discuss my reasons in more detail in another post, but I just don’t like the quality or taste of Rami Levy’s private label.

2. I could easily spend 3-4 times the amount of time shopping at Rami Levy as I do at other stores. My time is precious, and I have no desire to spend it fighting off people who leave their empty wagons at the register to do their shopping. As the saying goes, “time is money.”

3. Rami Levy has been fined many times by the court for their deceptive sales practices (see sample links below). If veteran Israeli shoppers are getting bamboozled, then think of what the new oleh is falling for…

Rami Levy fined 7000 shekels for advertising a lower price on the shelves than what was rung up.

Rami Levy was fined 80,000 shekels for not providing the weights of their products so the consumer can do an effective price comparison. 

The Consumer Protection Department Head takes issue with Rami Levy’s advertisment stating they are the cheapest in the country.

Rami Levy was fined 10,000 shekels for not listing product prices.

4. One of the biggest attractions for me at Rami Levy as a frugal shopper was their fresh chicken prices. To come home with a whole chicken for 20 shekels, especially compared to American meat prices, was a steal. Until one day I didn’t cook the chicken the same day I bought it, and it was green the next day. So the next time I was there I looked for the “best before” date on that should be on the chicken. It is a little-known and little-enforced law, but supermarkets are supposed to provide the best before date on the label, or at least have it available for the consumer if requested. I found out that the chicken was expiring the same day I purchased it! After seeing the quantities of chicken that is sold at Rami Levy, I have a difficult time believing that the chicken had been sitting in the store for 5 days (shelf life of chicken is 5 days- slaughter date plus 4 days).

So where did it come from?

My guess is that Rami Levy is buying soon-to-be expired chicken from other stores and reselling it. From a food safety standpoint, that is a nightmare. Transporting soon-to-be-expired chicken will accelerate it’s rate of decomposition because it will not stay under optimal temperature conditions, maybe enough to further shorten it’s shelf life. That is not a product I want to feed my children.

So what is my recommendation?

Yes, go to Rami Levy and get some great bargains. Just check the barcode  to make sure you get the right product,the receipt to make sure you paid the right price, and do the math to make sure it is a good deal. Regarding perishables- make sure you know the expiration date of what you are purchasing and make sure it is stored at the proper temperature.

Happy Shopping!

Can we PLEASE get strawberries???

How many times have I heard that from my kids in the supermarket?  My foreign-born kids just can’t wrap their head around the fact that fruits and vegetables come in seasons, and that it is expensive enough to purchase them in season, much less have them imported from far away and pay even more out of season.  They still count the days until the start of strawberry season and I purchase every week until the last morsel is gone from the store.

Of course, if you are a frugal shopper you don’t buy them the instant they appear in the supermarket- they are at their most expensive.  You wait until the season is more established- then the price drops.

To help you in your quest, I found some great charts from Agrexco that shows what product is in season each month.  They are too big to reprint here so go get yourself a copy from their web site.  They have five versions: FRUIT, CITRUS, VEGETABLES, FRESH HERBS, AND GENERAL.  Post them in your kitchen and then nobody can complain because you didn’t bring home mango in March or strawberries in September.

I really wanted to talk about the difference/similarity between the agricultural seasons in the Tanach and today but the only information I could find in English was from messianic Jewish sites.  I will keep a lookout on the Hebrew sites and add a post if I find something interesting.  In the meantime, I found a great chart for planting all types of seeds in Israel- what season, how deep, how far apart, and so on.  We haven’t got the garden we used to have in chutz l’aretz, but my husband is slowly expanding our agricultural repertoire.  Ours is strictly a leftover garden-we have pineapple from planting the tops, passiflora from leftover seeds, potatoes that sat too long and more.

One of my fellow bloggers, Bishul Bezol, wrote up a great post about eating in season.  You can read about it here in Hebrew if you like but she has graciously allowed me to translate it to English.  If your Hebrew is good, I highly recommend her blog.  She has great recipes for frugal shoppers with beautiful pictures.  If you go to her site, wish her a mazal tov on the birth of a new baby!

Here is a loose translation of her post- any mistakes are mine, any jokes are hers.

It is easy to say “buy fruits and vegetables in season”; it isn’t so easy to do.  Stores don’t come with a sign that says, “here are the cheap in-season produce”- just the opposite.  Plus, just because it is in season, doesn’t mean it is cheap.  Produce with a short season or is imported will be more expensive than the alternative.  For example fresh pineapple, even when in season, will still be more expensive.  When should you buy produce?  The same as if you buy clothing- the end of the season will be the cheapest, but you can also buy in the middle of the season.  Like clothing, if you see the sign that says “New Collection”- just translate it to “These are the products you pay more for.”

Where do you buy your produce? If for example you go to the local grocer with perfect looking pyramids of produce who peels your lichi fruit and seeds your pomegranate for you, you will pay more, no matter what the season.

So how do you shop?  Firstly, LOOK AT THE PRICES.  Try to figure out how much those three pitaya will actually cost.  Don’t pick recipes unless you know what the prices are in the market.  Be flexible.  If you have your heart set on a cherry pie and you find that they cost 35 shekels a kilo, change your fruit or change your recipe.  As previous stated, don’t buy the “first fruits”- they are the most expensive and since the producers are in competition to be the first in the stores, the taste is not always ideal.


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