Monday, June 16, 2014

Frugal Grocery Shopping

Frugal grocery shopping sounds easier than it actually is.  Especially if you are like me and don't want to take the time to clip coupons.  It IS possible to be budget-friendly and skip the coupons. There's a little work that goes into it, but it's worth it! Here's how I do it! 

We budget about $300-$320 a month on groceries.  I do a combination of shopping at Costco (for staple items like bread, fruit, sale items, etc) and Safeway, except for big meat trips, which I tend to do at Winco about once every 3 months. That is another added cost but I sometimes don't even have to do it, depending on how awesome the sales are at Safeway (or how lucky I get with the clearance bin!) 

Meal Plan and Make a List
Take note of what you DO have in your pantry and fridge, surf Pinterest (I love Pinterest for this! Follow me here!) and try to double up ingredients.  Say you are having breakfast for dinner one night and you will buy bacon.  Why not have BLT's one night too? Or a pasta dish that you can use leftover bacon in? I know, leftover bacon.. Blasphemy!  I sit down and write out a not-so-organized list of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for 7-10 days at a time. I also try to include whatever Joe is taking for lunch that week, and any baked goods I'll make for snacks and dessert. This is usually what it looks like.

Meal planning

 My grocery list is usually right underneath, and I rip it off before I go to the store.   Meal planning is a huge part of being frugal, I think.  It prevents so many "eh screw it" moments because you aren't sure what to cook. 

Use grocery coupon apps
I usually have this open while I'm meal planning.  I just use the Safeway app.  I really love that there are almost always free offers (who doesn't love free food?!) and it narrows most things down to what my cost will be.  I'm no super mom, and remembering whether 50 cents off that package of cheese is a better deal than the cheese I usually buy just doesn't work for me.  I tend to write on my list next to the item whether there was an electronic coupon on a specific brand so I can accurately compare at the store.  If you aren't sure, just add the coupon to your card anyway.  No big deal if you don't use it, but if you happen to pick up an item it applies to but weren't planning, it's like a bonus. 

Use grocery cash back apps
This usually is best if you check the app before you go grocery shopping (and again I write down on my list which items have big cash back) but it can save you a boatload if you utilize it. I use Checkout51, Ibotta, and ReceiptHog

 Checkout51 has generic items- like fruit, milk, eggs.  This means you can buy them at most any store and get cash back for it, regardless of brand.  It's not a lot, but when I stack it with the other cash back apps, I get some pretty good deals.  Plus, it's just a matter of uploading a picture of my receipt and checking off what I bought.  In one month, I've gotten $4.25 back.  

Ibotta has a lot of cash back opportunities, including apparel and home improvement stores.  I don't find that I usually claim a lot of offers, but the bonuses I get are well worth it.  Like this week all I had to do was redeem 3 offers to get an extra 50 cents.  I have a harder time with Ibotta because I'm not always sure what brand I'll buy, and the offers are brand specific.  This is another time I make a note on my list.  My list is usually kind of a mess, but I understand it :)  I've earned over $10 cash back in the last month with this app.  

ReceiptHog is really simple.  Currently I think they only give perks for grocery shopping, but it's pretty broad.  You get coins for your receipts, and feed them to the hog.  1000 coins equals $5.  I get 10-20 coins per receipt, so this is slow going.  However, you get spins on the slot machine each week that you upload a receipt that can earn you extra coins or cash.  And there's no matching offers, you simply take a picture of your receipt and you are done.  After 5 weeks of uploading at least 1 receipt per week, you go "hog wild" and you get more perks.  I'm not there yet but I'll try to update because I have no idea what that gets you! 

There are probably more apps than this, but this is what I personally use to grocery shop.  

Keep your fridge and pantry organized
I cannot stress this one enough.  It's so hard to know what you have if everything is a mess.  I can't tell you how many times I've wasted things, or bought 2 because I didn't know what I already had.  This can cost you a lot of money in the long run.  It can make frugal grocery shopping totally pointless. 

There you have it! That's all I do.  We probably don't save a ton by using the apps, but every little bit helps! 

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  1. I never use these apps, but now that I just got my first smartphone (yeah I know, where have I been) I'll be downloading these. lol

  2. I actually use them on my iPad after I get home :) I would probably go nuts without my smartphone though LOL