If you're willing to put in a little extra effort, you can save HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS on your grocery bill! Grocery budgets can easily get out of control if you spend money on dining out and fast food, coffee shops, store-bought baby food, pre-packaged snacks (especially for the kids), lots of meat, alcohol and specialty beverages, name-brand foods, and so on.
If I had to guess, I would say a busy couple (without children) could easily spend upwards of $1000 each month on food/drinks/dining/groceries. Imagine you eat out at a sit-down restaurant once a week. That could be $40-50 per meal, adding up to $200+ per month. One fast food trip each week...$15/trip, $60/month. Groceries: $100/week...$400/month. Add in a couple coffees at $4/each, $16/week, $64/month. That's already $700+!
What if I told you my family of three budgets only $300/month on groceries (including the undeniably expensive baby formula for my self-weaned silly little tot, and a Manhattan or beer for my hubby after long days at work)?? How? Meal planning, shopping sales, couponing, and saving those luxury items for special occasions. If you spend less than that on your family's groceries, add a comment below with your budgeted amount & family size! I'd love to learn how much more I could potentially save! (I digress...look for a future post about tips to reduce your overall grocery budget in the near future!)
...this week, my planning saved me over $100 on items my family actually uses!
- 36 Pouches of Gerber Organics 1st Foods
- 5 Jars of BeechNut Naturals Baby Food
- 3 Bags of Goldfish
- 8 1-Liter Bottles of Ice Mountain Sparkling Raspberry Lime Water
- 10 Packages of Hormel Pepperoni
- 1 Package of Uncle Ben's Brown Rice Medley
- 12 Power Bars
- 1 Almond Joy Bar
- 1 Trident Go Cup
- 1 Box of Butterfinger Bites
- 2 2-lb Bags of Hinode Sticky Rice
- 2 Bottles of Dove Men+Care Bodywash
- 2 Bottles of Dove Shampoo
Kroger Trip #1
I decided to make a quick trip to Kroger to use a $3 off checkout coupon before it expired. I was running to Target next door to pick up the humidifier we'd ordered online, so I figured I'd be efficient. Turned out...a little extra effort paid off a TON.
Before leaving home, I checked online for on any coupon matchups. A coupon matchup is a couponer's jackpot! That's when a product is both on sale at the store AND there is a coupon out there for that item! This is how to make the "big bucks," so to speak, when couponing. There are often coupon matchups for items that result in a very low price, but sometimes, the coupons reduce the sale price so much that the item is FREE. I wasn't on the lookout for any particular products the other day, so I wanted to see how much free stuff I could get! I printed my coupons, and I was off.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post where you'll find info about where to find coupon matchups!
A couple important things to note
First, I often split my shopping trip into multiple transactions if I have checkout coupons I want to use right away. Second, Kroger (and Meijer, and probably other stores) have sales where if you buy a certain number of items, you will save even more than the already posted sale price. At Kroger, it is called the "Buy 6, Save $3 Mega Event." OR it may look like: If you buy a certain number, you'll get one item free.
You do NOT have to buy all of one item. You can mix and match ANY items that are also part of the promotion. For example, below, baby food, Ice Mountain water, and Power Bars were all part of Kroger's Mega Event where if you buy six items, you earn an extra $3 off (basically $.50 off each item). If I bought a combination of five items, I wouldn't get the extra $.50 off each item. If I bought eleven, I would only get $.50 off six of them. The other 5 would be the regular "sale" price.
Here's where my problem solving skills came in. You won't find any specific scenarios on the coupon matchup websites. You have to make sure you have the right count in order to get the deepest discounts. Coupon matchup websites can tell you what's on sale and what coupons match up with those items, but if you aren't careful, you could take coupons and intend to buy exactly sixteen items and not get the lowest price because you are two shy (or four over) a multiple of six. Don't get me wrong: you'll still save a LOT of money!
In my scenario, I had coupons for sixteen baby food pouches, but that's not a multiple of six. So, I could buy two more, to total eighteen (spending $.59 each on two additional), or find other items in the store to create eighteen or 24 or 30, etc. Luckily, (I mean truly!) I found an applicable Ice Mountain Water matchup/checkout coupon if I bought four bottles, and I combined that with coupon matchup for four Power Bars. It just happened to all add up to 24 items, a perfect multiple of six! That made this math nerd super happy! (If you are rolling your eyes, I commend you for reading this far and won't be offended if you stop reading and never read again! Haha!)
- Gerber Organics 1st Foods Baby Pouches:
- Sale Price = $.59/each (Regular Price: $1.29 I think, Sale Price if you don't buy in multiples of six: $1.09)
- Coupon = $2.50 off eight (used two) AND $3 off Checkout Coupon (These are called "Catalina" coupons. They are the coupons that print at the register that most of us throw away. Sometimes you will get a coupon that is as good as cash, dollars off your next purchase.)
- Buy sixteen with two printed coupons & earn a $3 off Checkout Coupon
- Final Price = $4.44 ($.28 each)
- Ice Mountain Sparkling Water:
- Sale Price = $.50/each (Regular Price: $1.09 I think, Sale Price if not in multiples of 6: $1.00)
- Coupon = $1 off checkout coupon after purchase
- Buy 4
- Final Price = $2.40 ($.40 is the bottle deposit in MI)
- Individual Power Bars:
- Sale Price = $.49/each (Regular Price: $1.00 I think, Sale Price if not in multiples of 6: $.99)
- Coupon = $2 off 4 individual bars (Kroger card coupon)
- Buy 4
- Final Price = Profit of $.04!
- Trident Gum:
- Price = $2.50/each
- Coupon = Kroger Free Friday Item! (I loaded this coupon online onto my Kroger card...each Friday they have one free item! All you have to do is go online to your Kroger card account and clip the coupon! Don't forget to swipe your card at the register!)
- Buy 1
- Final Price = $0.00!
- Uncle Ben's Brown Rice Medley:
- Price = $1.89/each
- Coupon = Kroger Free Friday Item!
- Buy 1
- Final Price = $0.00!
Use $3 off checkout coupon I brought to the store
Total for Transaction 1 = $3.80
- Hormel Pepperoni:
- Sale Price = $1/each (10 for $10, Regular Price: $1.50 I think)
- Coupon = $1 off 2
- Buy 6 with 2 printed coupons (most coupon sites will allow 2 prints) & 1 coupon loaded to Kroger card online
- Final Price = $3.00 ($.50 each)
- Butterfinger Bites:
- Sale Price = $1/each (10 for $10)
- Coupon = None...shocker! Consider it a reward for a good shopping trip!
- Buy 1
- Final Price = $1.00
Use the $3 AND $1 off checkout coupon from the first transaction
Total for Transaction 2 = $0.00!!!
Total for the entire trip = $3.80
Value of the groceries = $45.38!!!
Part 2 of this 2-part series explains how I got the rest of the haul, $72.02 worth of groceries, for only $3.73! Also, I talk in greater detail about some great coupon matchup websites, cash back apps, and websites to print coupons. If you're like me, you'll try it once and be addicted to couponing!
I hope this helped those of you who are interested in couponing and saving money, but just never knew how to get started. Feel free to comment and add any questions you have. I'd also love to hear your suggestions if you have a lower grocery budget than mine (relative to the size of your family). Happy Couponing!