Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Grocery Sales

Shopping sales can be serious business or a great game.

If you are anything like me you've heard about all those people who pay next to nothing for their groceries and wondered how they do it. How can you get a box of good cereal (eg. Cheerios or Chex) for $1 or free toothpaste? As I look for ways to spend less and live more I started looking into how this works. At first I was sure it wouldn't be useful for us because we don't buy a lot of stuff that comes in boxes and that seems to be what the sales are for. However, I've started looking closer at the grocery ads (with some help of course :-) and have found some money savings.

The idea of "super couponing" is that you combine sale prices with coupons to get a really good deal. One example is that while I was walking down the aisle at a grocery store a couple weeks ago I saw a manufacturers coupon for $1 off 2 boxes of Cheerios. Since we like Cheerios I grabbed the coupon. Since then I have started watching the ads. Sure enough last week I saw a one-day-only sale where Cheerios (and other cereal) was selling at 2 boxes for $3. When this is combined with the coupon the total price is $2 for 2 or $1 each. That's a really good deal, but we don't eat a lot of Cheerios and it isn't saving if you wouldn't have bought it otherwise.

Where I have found the real savings to come in for our family is in shopping the meat and produce sales. I do home canning so when I see strawberries for $0.99/lb I know that by buying 3 lbs. I can make enough jam to last us for several months (or would have been if I hadn't made two batches of strawberry jam in as many weeks when strawberries were 2 lbs for $3, doh). I was also able to find chicken leg quarters on sale in 10lb bags for $3.90 or $0.39/lb. I grilled about half of those when we had family in town and tossed the rest into Ziploc bags with marinade, pushed the excess air out and froze them. I am still very new to this sale thing, but I am already saving money. Having the pre-prepped food in the freezer is a life saver when I am tired and hungry and just want to hit up the local burger joint.

I'm still no expert and have a lot to learn, but it is kinda fun to sit down and figure out how to get the best deal on things that you would buy anyway. It is also really nice when they day has been busy to be able to pull a bag out of the freezer and have a meal mostly prepared. Normally by lunch time I can tell how crazy my day will be. This means that if it looks like I won't have time to cook the meal I had planned I can grab something out of the freezer and set it to thawing in the refrigerator so that dinner will be taken care of without having to resort to some of the less healthy options for a quick meal. Today is Wednesday, the first day of the new grocery sales. Look through the ads and any coupons you have and see what deals you can find.


  1. In your algorithm of frugality, don't forget to include time and gas spent going to and from the grocery store. Price matching can save you money on food... but a lot of people spend more time driving around and it counter-balances the cost "saved". I don't price match because I don't want to use my time to do the work to price-match or drive to a particular store... it's a 30-min drive to the closest food-store as-is.

  2. For a long time I didn't shop sales because my time was too valuable and the stores were too far away or not conveniently located. Now while my spare time is scarce, there are points in my day when I need to be sitting near Audrey watching her, but can't be doing anything very detailed. I use this time to look through the ads and make up a list of what to consider from where. I am also lucky in that our new house is located fairly close to two of the four stores that I go to and during the cooler months it is actually close enough to walk or ride a bike if I want and Audrey likes going for walks in the stroller when she's being otherwise cranky. The other way that I'm lucky is that all four of the grocery stores I go to are in one line so I can just bring a cooler and take Audrey for an "adventure" without a ton of zigzagging which she enjoys more than staying home some days.

    All the price matching really does take time, but for me the time I use is time that really couldn't be well applied to doing something else anyway. Before Audrey this was not the case so I didn't really do it. Now it is one off her favorite games because I let her crumple the newspaper after I'm done with a given ad. It helps me stay organized and she loves it. :)