How I Saved It: Grocery edition | The Frugalista

How I Saved It: Grocery edition

by frugalista on September 21, 2010

Hey Frugalistas! Today, we have a guest post from journalist Sofia Santana. By day, Sofia is kick-butt reporter covering South Florida’s gritty and often wacky crime beat. But off the clock, she’s a Frugalista like us, trying to find ways to save on groceries. Check her out!

How I Saved on Buying Groceries by Sofia Santana

I recently scored a personal best- at Publix.

I usually find and print enough online coupons and plan my meals around what’s on sale to save about 20 to 30 % off an average grocery run. On my last grocery trip, though, I managed to get almost half off my bill.

Here’s how I did it.

First, I always, always, ALWAYS, prepare a detailed shopping list. I categorize the things I need based on where I can find them in the supermarket. I group the veggies together, the meats together, etc. This keeps me from wandering around the supermarket too much, which, for this foodie, is just asking for trouble.

Once I’ve listed the basics that I need, I look through the Publix flyer to see if there are any buy-one-get-one-free offers that I like. There are certain items that go on sale as buy-one-get-one-free often. Pasta Roni, Mueller’s and Barilla Pasta, jar spaghetti sauce, Big-brand cereals and Stouffer’s French Bread Pizza are just some examples. Knowing this, I try to only buy these items when they’re on sale.

After I’ve completed my list, I quickly Google each brand-name product on my list. (Google the brand name and “online coupon” or “printable coupon.”) A simple Google search will often lead you to a manufacturer’s website where you can not only find savings but also sign up for newsletters that deliver coupons to your inbox on a regular basis. I get decent coupons from BettyCrocker.com, Pillsbury.com and Rightathome.com (Johnson cleaning products) in my E-mail every week, and they’re often better than the coupons you find in the supermarket or in the newspaper.
After Google, I check out redplum.com, smartsource.com and coolsavings.com. Sometimes these sites seem to all have the same coupons for the same bland products, so they’re not my favorite, but every now and then I find some unexpected savings.

I then put asterisks on my list to remind myself which items I have coupons for and which are on sale. (Remember, Publix will give you an item for free if the wrong price rings up at the register.)

When the list is complete, I’m out the door and off to Publixland.

Whatever coupons I end up not using right away get stowed in a small Ziploc bag that I keep either in my purse or car. That way I’m always armed with potential savings every time I go to the supermarket. Plus, I love it when I come across an unadvertised in-store special for something I actually need and realize, “I have a coupon for that!”

I know this seems really tedious, but it’s not that bad. Granted, my shopping list is not as big as one for a family of five, but these steps don’t have to be done all at once.

On my last trip, I bought Breyer’s ice cream, Milk Bone biscuits, ½ gallon Gatorades and Yoplait YoPlus yogurt as buy-one-get-one-free deals and had $1.00 off online coupons for the yogurt, Silk “Very Vanilla” soy milk, Scrubbing Bubbles toilet scrubber refills and Cottonelle. Pork ribs also were on sale, so I snagged a big packet of those, too.

My bill came out to about $35, and at the bottom of the lovely receipt was the terrific news: “You saved $25.52.”

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