I decided to be smart for once when grocery shopping Usually I just go to the store and buy what I want. No big deal, right? Well, I end up with a bunch of stuff we didn’t actually need and end up paying full price for all of it. This time I took an hour before I shopped and went through the grocery ads. I picked out the meats that were on sale and that’s what I built menus around. That and what we have in the freezer. I went through and found out who had the best prices on the veggies we use most and marked those down as well. Turns out there was one store that had the best prices on several things.
Then I made my list. The meats that were on sale and the veggies from one store, and the balance from Target (where I get 5% off with my Red Card and can use coupons and Cartwheel). Little did I know that the store I chose for their good sales also had double coupons up to $2 that day as well as a standard 10% off store brands for military (I am a dependent of a military man and that counts). Had I known that before I went, I might have done all of my shopping at that store as I had several high value coupons that would have been doubled. As it was, I needed 2 carts for that store. They had a sale on pasta that was a stock up price, so I got 30 boxes (they were 79 cents each when pasta is usually a dollar or $1.25). We’ll eat them. I also had $2.00 off coupons for coffee, so I got 4 of those (the 30 oz Maxwell House for $4.99 each). That adds to the several cans of coffee I already had. Again, it’ll get used. Besides that, my best deal was a sale on yogurt that had the price at 40 cents a container, and I had a coupon for $1.00 off 10, so I bought 20 at 30 cents a container. The best price I usually find is 59 cents. My kids are eating a ton of yogurt right now, so 20 isn’t unreasonable.
Anyway, enough bragging … The entire thing took about 3 hours. An hour for planning and another 2 for shopping at two stores. I saved $65 overall and ended up paying about $300 for enough groceries to cover the back of a van that had the back row of seats folded down and start on a second level of bags. Not terrible. And that should mostly last us for the month. I’ll have to make a second, smaller trip in a couple of weeks to get more bananas, apples, and grapes, and maybe some milk, but that should be all we need. With an hour’s worth of planning I saved actually about $200. I used to spend about $500 every 2 weeks on groceries (I know, ridiculous, right? But that’s just going and wandering and buying whatever looks good and doing that at least twice a paycheck with a couple of supplemental trips during the week). I also bought $100 worth of pet food that should last us t least a couple of months.
Now our stockpile consists of snack sized plastic storage bags to use in the kids’ lunches (they keep losing my Tupperware and I’m sick of it), toilet paper, pasta, coffee, paper towels, peanut butter, granola bars, pet food, soda (we don’t drink that much, so when I see the buy 2, get 3 free on 12 packs deal, I buy the maximum of 10 and that lasts us several months), and BBQ sauce (for regular use and use by the bottle in the slow cooker). All things we use a lot of and will absolutely use up before it expires. That’s not all from this trip obviously, I have been stockpiling as I see good deals on these things. I’ll start looking at the ads every week, but I plan on only going shopping once every 2 weeks unless I see a great deal (like the buy 2, get 3 free deal, or $79 cents on pasta), then it’s off to the store for a surgical strike. Put the blinders on and go straight to the deal I’m looking for , fill up, and get out!
I know that many of the things that I stock up on aren’t actually necessities – paper towels and granola bars – but they are things my family likes. While I’m trying to be more frugal, I am also trying to keep us comfortable. If I can get granola bars for $1.50 a box and they are the kind the kids especially like, I’m willing to stock up and let them have them. We are not in dire straights and can still afford little luxuries like these. Maybe, as I get further in my paying down debt journey, I’ll want to give these up to get things paid off that much more quickly, but for now, we’re keeping them.