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Grocery saving ideas?

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I know some people use and love The Grocery Game. I used to do it back when it was $1 for 8 weeks. A woman in the grocery store the other day mentioned Couponmom.com to me. What are the best grocery saving ideas you could share?


We do have a membership to Sam's Club and I buy in bulk for some things. I also just started getting the weekend paper for coupons. I used to be very avid with coupons and then life got in the way. :D I need to get back at it and wondered what others do.

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I use couponmom.com every week to make up my grocery list and I love it. I keep a running list of things I need at BJ's (like sams) and when I have a week at our local grocery store that really doesn't have good sales I'll shop at BJ's instead. Last week I had a huge list at Publix from couponmom.com, this week nothing. I used the grocery game for the $1 for 8 weeks too and just could not see spending money on it to save money. I'm not going to start buying a paper for the coupons either, I just want a list of what's BOGO. I never take my cart into an aisle, all the sale things are on the end caps. When I need something that's not on the end cap then I leave my cart at the end and just run to get what I need. Having a list and sticking to it is what saves me money.


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I used to use coupons. Just 3 yrs or so ago I used to save quite a bit using coupons. I would be able to save $30-50 each week just using the coupons.


Then some reason the last few years I saved very little. Most of the time I didn't get coupons for the items I use. My grocery list is usually very basic and some brand specific. What I buy alot of, I never could find any coupons for. And then even if I found some coupons for something... it wasn't usually the best $ deal as some other brand would be cheaper than the brand-with-a-coupon.


I find that I save more money not using coupons, because I still stick with my rule of not paying full price on anything unless I really need the item and it can't wait. I also rarely go for the BOGO items... it practically is never a better deal. So now I don't even bother with coupons unless I find coupons that happen to be for items I always buy and this is usually for non-grocery items.

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I did the Grocery Game for a little while and I just am awful at coupons. I see that you are in Michigan as am I. I go on the Kroger site at the beginning of the week and look at the weekly ad. You can click on the things you want that are on sale and make a list and print it out. I then stock up on those things that are on sale using my Kroger card. What I really watch for are the meat sales as they usually have something that is buy one get one free or half price. Whatever meat or meats that are on sale that week, I buy in bulk and make 4 or 5 different recipes, 3 or 4 meals each, so up to 20 meals and freeze them. One week it may be chicken, another week pork chops or whatever. On your Kroger receipt it says how much you save and I almost always save at least 30% and this is without coupons and doing the rest of my normal weekly shopping. The freezer cooking has really saved me, not only in terms of money, but also because I don't get to 6:00 every night and say "what are we having for dinner" and pull out a frozen pizza. I finally lost my pregnancy weight (when my youngest was 8) by eating more healthy with the freezer cooking.



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When I got serious about couponing, I joined www.HotCouponWorld.com I like that HCW has a separate forum for each grocery store, including local chains as well as the big national ones. Members who post in a store's forum work together to match up the ad with all coupons available. After following a store for a while, you will get a sense of what is a "rock bottom" price and thus stock up on that item.


I am only brand-loyal about a few things, Colgate toothpaste and Tide HE detergent to name a few. Colgate goes on sale for $.99 every few months at one or another of my stores. A week or two before the sale, there will be a $.50 or $.75 coupon in the newspaper. My stores all double so that coupon will be worth $1.00 (or $1.50 at 2 stores). I am lucky in that we have a free weekly newspaper where I live, so I am able to get 10 sets of coupons. If I didn't have that source, I would order the coupons from a clipping service such as www.couponsthingsbydede.com (there are many services, that's just one I use). This week Colgate 4.6oz is $.99, I have my coupons, and I will get 10 tubes of toothpaste for free. We will be set until the next time I can get it free :)


This type of couponing, stocking up on a large number of free/almost free items, takes a lot of work to learn and a lot of time to accumulate the items but is very worth the effort. After 3-6 months, you will have a stocked pantry.

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I found I had to put aside all of the grocery saving guidelines of the past. Walmart isn't the cheapest store in my area any more by a long shot. The largest size box won't necessarily save you money. Growing green beans at home may cost you more (but you may decide to grow them anyway), etc. The rules have changed.


One other thing I would pass along is that it's worth being friendly to the store employees, not just because it's a nice thing to do :), but also because they're helpful when it comes to bargains. I chat often with the clerks and the butcher at the store I frequent most, and sometimes will ask the butcher what's their best deal or what she's making tonight and the checkout clerk and I often share ideas on bargains. I stop and visit with the produce guy at another store. He does a nice job with the produce there and is more than a stockboy--he really knows about the products and the produce market.

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I used to use coupons but i have been trying to eat healthy food and have cut out most processed foods. This has also drastically reduced our food bill. Rather than needing 2-3 boxes of hamburger helper for a meal, I can buy a bag of noodles and make my own sauce for about the cost of 1 box of hamburger helper (meat would be the same either way). So coupons don't do much for me anymore because I buy whole grains in bulk. I get stuff through Country Life Natural Foods because with a large family we go through a lot of food. We can go through 50 pounds of oatmeal in about 3 months, I make my own bread and have a grain mill so 50 pounds of wheat lasts about the same. Rice I buy in 25 pound and keep in the freezer etc.


An Example, when I started this (about 2 years ago), the cheapest oatmeal in the grocery store worked out to about 80 cents a pound, buying it in 50 pound bags it's about 40 cents a pound. The savings easily paid for the gamma lids I bought for my buckets (which we free from teh bakery at Sam's club)


I buy most of my produce in bulk or grow it myself. There is an Amish community about an hour from my house. THey have a produce auction 3 times a week. I get anything I want to put up for the year there. I just bought a bushel of broccoli for about 50 cents a pound, last year we got sweet corn for $1.00 a dozen, huge red peppers for 33 cents each, green beans for about 50 cents a pound, tomatoes were 3.00 for 20 pounds etc. So I save quite a bit that way. I do have more labor involved because I have to prepare it for freezing and canning but it tastes so much better and is cheaper.


There is a store that supplies are University that sell meat to the public, I get boneless skinless chicken for between 99 cents and 1.50 a pound in 40 pound boxes, of course I have to package it into smaller quantities.


I buy a half a cow at a time, price is about $3.00 a pound.


I found out about all the options by talking to other homeschoolers in the area, particularly those with large families.


I should mention if you don't have a large freezer (or 2 or 3) then you might want to look into that. Used ones are usually pretty affordable.


So start asking those local to you if they know where to buy food in bulk. I sledom have to pay retail price on things because I buy so much in bulk. Things that I might get from the grocery store, I just wait till it goes on sale and stock up (like I will buy 30 pounds of whole wheat noodles when they go on sale), then I'm never stuck needing something and having to pay full price.

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#1 Make a list and stick to it.

#2 Only go to the store once a week (or less). Running in to pick up just one thing is fine if you can really get JUST ONE THING.

#3 Find a store you like and get as much there as possible. Shopping numerous stores may enable you to get the lowest prices but it also puts you in danger of buying things you don't really need. Beans for $.30 aren't a bargain if you spend $20 you didn't plan when you buy your beans.

#4 Just because it's a deal doesn't mean it's a deal for you (see rule #1). Coupons can be great but if you buy brand name cereal that still costs more than the generic and your family doesn't have a preference, the coupon isn't saving you money. Also, if it's processed food you wouldn't normally buy, it probably isn't a savings.

#5 Compare prices on sizes offered. Just because it's the biggest box, that doesn't mean it's the best deal.

#6 Buy meat on sale and freeze it.

#7 Make as much as possible from scratch. Homemade tastes best and costs less.

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(1) Not all coupons are for processed food. Our older dd has multiple food allergies so I cannot buy most processed food (the closest we get is one type of taco seasoning, hard taco shells and frozen treats). Last fall/winter I "purchased":


whole wheat pasta (about 50 boxes)

brown rice (15 lbs)

yellow box regular Cheerios (about 50 boxes)

canned tomatoes because we lost our entire tomato crop due to late blight :(



all for $10ish. One of my stores, Acme part of the Albertson family, runs fabulous "catalina" deals in which you buy $X of certain items and you get a printed coupon for $Y off a future purchase. And you can use that $Y to again purchase $X of items, resulting in another $Y coupon, again and again and again. I use coupons to purchase the items, so in combination with rolling the "cats" I can get a LOT of stuff for very little money. Sometimes the coupons are for such high value that I have to add other items to my order to be able to use the $Y coupon. I can then get milk, cheese, produce, and even meat for free.


I do live in the suburbs with lots of stores available. When it's a good shopping week, I will visit multiple stores within the same chain each day. Since I have teens, I don't have to take Youngest shopping with me.


(2) If you live in an area with different grocery chains, do shop at all you can IF IF IF you can limit yourself to buying only what is seriously on sale. I regularly shop 4 different chains. Every Thursday or Friday (I get the ads in the junk mail on Thursday), I sit down with all the ads, circling good buys or items I need, then I write down *on the same paper* my shopping list for all the stores. Many times, the same thing will be on sale at two chains, so I choose the store with the best price. I can drive/shop the "loop" in 90 minutes because I write detailed grocery lists with item, size, price and coupons to be used for everything.


(3) Regardless of how you shop, always go slowly through the meat department and the refrigerated/dairy department. Look for reduced-price stickers! My Pathmark now has a freestanding refrigerated unit for reduced dairy items, either short-dated or discontinued. My ShopRite frequently deep discounts meats, placing the sale items in a small "coffin" refrigerated unit near the meat department. One day I was walking from produce over to dairy and discovered $.69/lb Perdue chicken burgers (4 patties per package), $.59/lb split chicken breasts, and $.49/lb roaster chickens. I bought two cases of the chicken burgers, all the split breasts and 6 chickens. The big freezer is full of poultry!


Gosh, that got long!

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