Alrighty, ladies and gents. I just got done snapping this pic of the coupons I’ve used this week to save money on groceries. Personally, I find the topic of grocery shopping for savings to be a bit dry. But awhile back I mentioned I only spend about $75/month on groceries and I got a few questions asking how it’s possible. If you guys want to know, I’m more than happy to share: I buy nearly all my groceries using Ad Match at Walmart. But don’t be afraid! You don’t have to go to the mart! A lot of other stores are joining the ad match bandwagon. Even a few of my local stores!
This week’s grocery ad matches:
Carrots: 88 cents for 2 pounds
Red Delicious Apples: 68 cents per pound
Grade A Large Eggs: 49 cents per dozen
Strawberries: $1.28 per pound
No sodium added canned vegetables: 29 cents per 15.5oz can
Bananas: 28 cents per pound
Peanut Butter: 99 cents per pound
Kiwi fruit: 3 for $1
Dole Lettuce: 68 cents a bag
Navel Oranges: 2 for $1
Cottage Cheese: $1.48 for 18oz
On Wednesdays over lunch, I spend about 10 minutes reviewing newspaper ads. Some old guys bring the papers to work. I’m the only person who likes looking through the ad section. So while I eat, I thumb through ads, tearing out anything that meets these criteria:
2) Tasty (would I really want to eat it??)
3) Relatively low price
When looking through ads, here’s what I’ve learned…
The first page or two are full of killer deals. The cool thing about this is basically every store in town will use loss leaders to get people in their doors.. So I’m essentially getting groceries cheaper than the store can put them on the shelves.
I search for products that haven’t been heavily processed or made super convenient. The more fiddling around the manufacturer has done to a food item, the more the store charges. Tiny yogurt containers or Lunchables are never good deals.
Typically, buying bulk is cheaper.
Buy based on what’s in season. Right now fresh fruit and vegetables are super cheap. In the winter, Santa Claus lowers the cost of baking supplies.
Look for foods that are already cheap: carrots, oranges, potatoes, bananas… price match those and you’re well on your way to $75 grocery bills.
You’ll learn in a hurry which stores run the best ads so sorting through ads really only takes a few seconds. What’s super awesome is when a store has road construction in front of it. Last summer, there was one store that would offer free items each week just to get you in the door.
Some people love coupons but they aren’t worth the hassle for me. Most of them are for products I don’t want or need. Plus, they typically only bring the prices down to that of generic goods. I’m not too proud to buy generic. Especially when generics are usually the exact same product but with a less flashy graphic design job.
I throw the ads in a manila envelope and get on with my life. When I need groceries, I take my envelope to Walmart and do my shopping.
Okay, so at this point you’re moaning about how scary it is to enter Walmart. I get it. Here’s how you avoid the crazy: Go early in the morning. This way, the store has been cleaned and freshly stocked and the crazies are probably still sleeping/hungover. Walmart actually is pretty swell early in the morning.
You actually don’t need the coupons in hand, you can just tell the cashier the advertised price you saw. Normally they don’t even double-check you’re not lying. But don’t lie, that’s bad.
I pick the young cashiers. Sometimes the old ladies will take forever(!) typing in my prices. When finished, I see a small number on the readout (usually about $10 per trip), swipe my debit card, and then I’m on my way. Easy peasy.
Here are a few other details about my situation.
I’m 6′ tall, I walk/run/bike/work out daily. I burn a lot of calories. But the thing is, I eat a lot of whole foods. Those fill me up quickly and give me lasting energy. For instance, a Pop-tart has 200 calories. Do you think 10 Pop-tarts for a total of 2,000 calories will keep you energized all day? “No way, Jose!” Full House, anyone?? That processed, sodium-filled garbage is just empty calories. 2,000 calories of chicken breasts is about 12 pieces. That’ll fill you up.
I also avoid organic if it’ll cost me extra. I have yet to read any conclusive evidence that proves organic is better anyway. My last year of college, a girl was all about eating organic. However, her persuasive speech was horrendously undersourced. Please leave me a link in the comments if I am just ignorant on this topic.
Also, I try to stay away from straight carbs. They have the power to make me fat in a hurry. To help avoid the temptation, I bake all my own bread. That way, if I really want carbs sometimes my laziness will save me because I won’t want to bake anything. Sometimes it pays to be a little lazy!
I’m also not a fan of most beans so getting cheap protein is a little tricky. I eat a lot of peanut butter (gotta watch the calories on that stuff!!!), turkey, and chicken.
So that’s how I spend about $75 per month on groceries. I say about because I don’t use a budget. But when I was calculating how I save 85% of my income, I calculated an average of grocery bills for the past year.