Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Resolutions Part 2

Grocery Goals

Last January I started my journey of trying to save money on groceries and household items. I began by clipping coupons (I did this for a few years when we were first married, but just fell out of the habit), studying the Kroger sales ad, and trying to do the Walgreens/CVS thing. I stuck with Walgreens and CVS for about 2 months. Then I continued with Walgreens only (the store is closer to me) for another few months, and then I abandoned the drug store/register rewards cycle altogether.

I saved a lot of money last year on our groceries. I learned many things about coupons, the cycles of on-sale items at Kroger, and some fairly easy ways to cut back my grocery bill. This year I hope to save even more.

Here are my lessons learned and goals for 2011.
  • Walgreens/CVS is just too much trouble and not enough savings for me. Since I don't live in town, it is not convenient for me to just "run in" either of those stores to shop. Especially CVS. It is nowhere near any other place that I frequent. I have found that by watching the sales and using coupons, I can save even more money on household and personal care items at Kroger than I can at the drugstores. I now pay $1 or less for toothbrushes, toothpaste, and sometimes even shampoo (sometimes shampoo is $1.50) at Kroger. Frequently I even get those items for free! I also have found that I can get super deals (read, cheap!) on razors, deodorant, soap, and shaving creme at Kroger.
  • Loading digital coupons onto my Kroger card is so worth it! In fact, the iPhone now has a Kroger digital coupon free app. I can load those coupons onto my card while I am in the store if I forget to do them at home! I also use and to load digital coupons onto my Kroger card.
  • Kroger allows you to stack coupons. This just means that for one particular item, you can use a manufacturer's coupon (like you cut out of the Sunday paper), a Kroger issued coupon (they send you these in the mail) and a digital coupon, for the same item. That is how I get items for free!
  • I have a goal of staying out of Walmart this year! For years I have done monthly shopping at Walmart. I have a list of all kinds of household (cleaners, paper products, etc) and personal care (shampoo, soap, bandaids, etc.) items that I buy every single month. I know just how much of each item to last us one month. But, I have found that by buying these same items at Kroger (on sale, with a coupon), I can actually spend less on these things at Kroger. I would have never believed this until I tried it!
  • I renewed my Sam's Club membership. I have been twice this year, and I am taking notes of products that I am interested in buying there (the prices) and I am trying to figure out which store has items that I regularly buy at the best price. I am pretty sure that combining a monthly Sam's trip with my weekly Kroger trips will completely eliminate the need for me to visit Walmart!
  • There are no coupons for fresh fruit and vegetables! You really have to watch yourself if you clip coupons. Many, many coupons are for processed foods. I try to buy and prepare healthy foods, and there are just not that many coupons available for the bulk of my grocery shopping. Kroger does sometimes send me a coupon for $5 off $20 worth of produce, but that is not that often. Most of the coupons I use are for cleaners, paper products, personal items and cereal. We eat a lot of cereal, and now I refuse to pay more than $1.50 a box for cereal, most weeks I can get our Cheerios for $1! The older girls and I eat Fiber One Cereal, and it is more expensive. The best I can usually do on it is $2.50 a box. Still, a good deal.
  • I buy as many items as I have coupons for when they are on sale. This means that one week I may buy 6 boxes of Cheerios, and then not buy cereal again for 3 weeks. I do the same for frozen vegetables and canned tomatoes.
  • I buy larger portions (on sale) of ground beef or turkey, brown it all and divide it into 1 pound portions and freeze them.
  • You have to shop with a calculator. Sometimes the store brand of an item is cheaper than name brand with a coupon, but sometimes the name brand is actually cheaper. You have to do the math!
I have found that by doing all of the above, I have trimmed my grocery/household spending, but I am also buying healthy food--which actually costs more--for my family. I still haven't bought a cart full of groceries for $7, like all of those coupon queens that you read about, but I have consistently shaved $50-$100 off our our total monthly spending in these areas, and I hope to save even more this year.

What about you? Do you have any money saving ideas to share?


  1. I actually paid $13 for a chicken yesterday. I can't believe it. I'm grateful we could afford it and hoping to buy organic free-range chicken from now on. (We'll probably be eating less meat around here.) I do the same thing. Buy cheap except when it's worth it to buy organic. I still don't do Sams. It's on the other side of town and not worth the extra 45 minutes for me to go. Maybe if we went as a family or something.

    I may go back to regular genetically modified corn syrup maple syrup, though. The real thing is SO expensive and my kids complain that it's too runny!


  2. We live in a rural part of the country. We have a local IGA, but they are so expensive! I do buy milk and fresh fruits and veggies when needed there, but I really try to make the most out of my trips to the closest big town (30-45 minutes away for Aldi/Meijer. I like coupons too for cleaners and stuff, but we really try not to eat processed food, so all other coupons are pretty worthless to me. I wish there were more coupons for fresh fruits and vegetables. That is one reason why I love summertime! I have a huge garden and we eat from that all year long. But it is so yummy fresh out of the garden in the summertime!

  3. Wow! I need to pay more attention to saving money with coupons, but I have just never taken the time to figure it all out. I saw a show on tv a week or so ago about people who are HUGE into couponing, and get so many things for free! It was pretty interesting!

    I love Fiber 1 cereal too! Have you ever tried it with vanilla almond milk, and fresh strawberries? If should try it! Soooooo yummy! :)

  4. I wish I used coupons more, but the coupons I find are always for things we don't buy. I wish we had a grocery store with a savers card like Kroger. I am apart of a Co-Op where I am able to get good prices on organic food, but I would like to be able to apply coupons :)
    I garden in the summer. I freeze and can which helps with produce in the winter.
    We butcher a whole beef once a year. If you are able to do this, it saves so much! Our total price per pound (steaks/roasts/ground beef) last year was $2.14. Plus the beef we butcher is grass fed and given minimal antibiotics. A big plus for me.
    Thank you for sharing how you saved, I need to be more aware of ways to save.

  5. We do almost all of our shopping at Aldi which is a huge money saver for us. We've slowly switched to almost all Aldi brands and nobody minds. I think staying out of Walmart is a great idea regardless of any savings! I always feel completely drained even thinking about visiting the Super Walmart in our town!

    I appreciated your article. Since we do most of our grocery shopping at Aldi, I just keep a list of other things that we need and give little thought to purchasing them. I need to watch more closely for sales and coupons to save on items like toothbrushes, deodorant, and fresh meat.


  6. I have recently started using coupons also. I watched a TV show and it inspired me to try this as a way to save on the extras I need to buy.

    I still pay full price for milk, veggies and fruit, but I usually buy those at Costco which I love! And Costco meat is the best!

    I too have to watch the processed food, but it is quite the thrill to go through the checkout line, see the total add up to $77 and then hand over your store card and coupons and see it drop to $15.94 as my last trip did! I feel like I won something!

    Good luck with your Resolution! I am cheering for you!

  7. I need to start doing coupons, but I do not make it to Kroger often. My Sam's membership pays for itself in yeast, Chex Mix, Taco Seasoning, Clorox 2, honey, and a few other things. You have to be careful there... some things are not a better deal!

  8. Glad you are staying out of Walmart. That store is a money pit. I still do Walgreens and CVS when they have free or almost free stuff. Here is my article on Getting more for your money at Kroger.