So I've clipped coupons in the past - digital and paper - but it's felt pretty random. No strategy. Enter my friend Kelsey, marketing maven and couponing diva.
Can I say that this feels rather intimate...sharing our grocery list? Kinda like showing you the messy innards of my stocked fridge (see header), but this is real life! I want to share what I've learned, how we manage, and what does and doesn't work for us.
First a few caveats...
I buy less protein than most people do at the grocery store. We milk our own goats. We buy a third of a cow every year from a farmer that we know. We recently bought a whole pig from a farmer that we know (but have yet to cure the bacon so you will see bacon on my list). We also eat eggs from our free range chickens.
Do I sound like a food snob yet? We kinda are, but we also aren't teetotalers. I buy hot dogs for my kids and there are some processed food items on my list. For instance, we make our own gluten free bread but it's too dense for making sandwiches - especially for the kids so I bought a loaf of whole wheat bread.
We also buy less veggies than most people because of our garden. This year we really only had onions, potatoes, and garlic in abundance but that still makes a difference in our bottom line.
Even with all that protein in our fridge and freezer, I routinely found myself spending uncomfortably close to $200 at the grocery store for my family of 5 each week and that needed to change.
Today, I spent - after rebates - $133.75 on what would pretty normally cost me $200. (And let's not forget that I earned fuel points to help take dimes off each gallon I purchase at the Kroger pump.)
I was feeling kind of sheepish about that sum, but then Kelsey found this site that uses USDA food prices and estimates that the average family of four spend $880/month on groceries. That's a lot yall! We can do better - I want to be on the thrifty side of that average.
Here was the basic plan of attack.
- Make a list on paper of just what we needed. This rocked my world because I started shopping at Kroger last year because 1) I knew it was cheaper in general and I could save on gas but also 2) I liked their app better than Harris Teeter's app. I could enter my list and it would sort it by aisle. Like a teenager who learned to drive after the advent of GPS, I actually never really learned my way around my local Kroger! So color me skeptical, but I'm now a believer in the paper list because I can make note of my coupons, rebates, and sales right on the list in order to save money...even if that means I have to pay more attention to my surroundings.
- Check the Kroger Weekly Ad for what's on sale and whether there's a MEGA SALE like this week's "Buy Five, Save $5." This didn't necessarily add anything to my existing list but did effect how many of certain items I would end up buying because I needed to buy certain items in increments of five to save the money - sounds complicated but it was mix and match so it's not like I ended up with five of one item. I got to involve Quincy with this one because the Buy 5, save $5 signs were all over the place! It turned into a scavenger hunt. I also marked these items on my list with a star in advance so I could track how many I needed.
- Check the digital coupons on the Kroger app, "clip" what I need. Mark the paper list when I clipped a coupon.
- Go to KrogerKrazy.com and check the coupon database for the items on my list. Print any relevant ones and mark them on my list.
- Check name brand websites for coupons. We found coupons for: Kleenex (which I forgot once in the stores because #3kids), Larabars, and $2 off my favorite Taylor Farm's Bagged Sweet Kale Salad which was also on sale at Kroger. #winning
- Downloaded the ibotta app and checked for REBATES for items already on my list. We did this yesterday and alas I missed out on a $0.50 rebate on bananas and another $0.50 rebate on bread (ANY bread). The rebates change frequently, but I still earned $12. The app will pay you via venmo or paypal too which I love.
If you download ibotta, please use my referral code fgnmxkw because the current offer is for you to get $10 and I will get $5 BUT ONLY IF you download the app and use it to get a rebate within 7 days. So don't download it until you sit down to make your next grocery list.
- Downloaded the SavingsStar app and searched for items on my list. This app is more about name brand items so you're less likely to get $0.50 for buying bananas like on ibotta. But I still saved $2!
There's definitely a learning curve with looking at the Weekly Ad and using the apps, but I feel like I'll get faster the more I do this and boy that thrill when I saved 19% off my total bill AND I knew I would be getting $14 back in rebates once I scanned my receipt at home which didn't take much time at all.
Thank you Kelsey for your help!