Thursday, January 14, 2010

Q & A

Coupon Clipper: Great shopping! But I have a question...is this your "weekly" shopping or "coupon only" shopping? When I go shopping, I get good deals on many things I buy but I also HAVE to buy things each week, such as milk, OJ, apple juice, bread, cereal, canned goods, etc., that may or may not be on sale or that I have coupons for. I have enough canned tomatoes and tomato sauce to last me a while, but there are many common things that we need every week that creeps that $$ total up on me.

Because of this weekly shopping that I have to do, I can never just pay $13 for almost $100 worth of items, items that my family needs each week. Like I mentioned, I do try and stockpile when I can but there are still those same items that can't be stockpiled or purchased cheaply.

Just wanted your thoughts on this.

Me: Since I have been an avid coupon spender for nearly two years, I have learned to stock up on the food and household items that my family uses more frequently, when they are on sale and I have matching coupons!

Each week, I sit at my computer (or look at the sales flyers in paper format) and review what each store is offering as 'sale items' that week. I pay the most attention to the front page and the back page of each sales flyer- since that is where the stores advertise their greatest discounted items (these super discounted items are also called 'Loss Leaders.' Loss leader means that the store is willing to take a financial hit on the specified items... in hopes that I will do the rest of my spending that week on their other non-sale items! *Milk and fruits and vegetables are often highlighted as loss leaders!).

My personal grocery shopping strategy is as follows:

1. My main grocery store is Meijer. I find that Meijer offers the best produce in my area, for fairly decent prices. I like to shop around 10am since meat mark downs and a reduced produce cart appear (at my store, Livonia) around that time.

I LOVE that Meijer accepts manufacturer coupons (doubles up to $.50) and that I can spend Meijer store coupons as well (Mealbox coupons).

When meat is on a great sale, I will stock up by purchasing what I think that my family may eat/entertain with for the next three months. When frozen chicken breasts are on sale, I may purchase 6 large bags, and store them in my freezer. I also purchase ground beef in larger quantities- ensuring that all of my cooking is with sale priced meats.

I plan my fresh produce purchases around what I can pick up off of the reduced produce cart, what my family will definitely consume (apples, bananas, tomatoes and lettuce for sure!), and what is on super sale that week.

As far as dairy, I purchase milk and eggs when we need them. If milk is on a pretty good sale during the week, I will purchase our milk early in the week for our weekly consumption and then I will pick up more milk (for the following week's use) later in the week, so two weeks worth of milk is purchase on sale!

When cheese is on sale, I will purchase several blocks when I can spend $1/less per block, and then I shred it myself, as I have found that an 8oz block yields more cheese than an 8 oz package of already shredded cheese.

2. I shop at Kroger a couple of times per month- but I only run in really quickly to solely purchase the loss leader items with coupons.

3. I watch for grocery sales at Target and the drug stores! Often cereal, Jello, spices and other food items are great deals at these stores. I am willing to pop in to purchase items that we regularly use!

4. I occasionally shop at Costco. I do purchase a few items, like Crasins, that are the best price at Costco. More recently, I have fallen in love with Gordon Food Service, their Feta, meatballs and egg noodles are great quality and are decently priced!

5. I also occasionally shop a 'mom & pop' type of tiny local grocery store in my neighborhood. I will check out their sales flyer each week and see if there is something I could stock up on.

When I share my grocery purchases in pictures, that is exactly what I have purchased on my main grocery shopping trip for the week. I normally do not take pictures of my little shopping jaunts, but maybe it would be helpful if I do. (Taking pictures of my groceries takes time, effort and me running interference with a toddler :))

I would also like to add, that as far as laundry detergent, shampoo and toilet paper- I normally keep these items completely off of my grocery list by purchasing them with my Extra Care Bucks at CVS or with my Register Rewards at Walgreens.

The BIG picture behind successfully spending coupons- is to purchase what you need BEFORE you need it. Plan in advance (during a sale) to purchase the items that your family uses most often, and then stock up!

8 comments:

Anonymous

Yep, that's what I thought. I need to get better at planning for the future. I have plenty of some things, but obviously not enough of others. I also homeschool and do not have a lot of time for going to different stores (I guess who does?), so I need to plan ahead for the shopping trips and plan them for when I'm out on my own. I do love to shop at CVS and have gotten some really good deals there (toothpaste and batteries, lately).

There are some things that I probably don't have to shop for for a very long while. For example, I probably have enough feminine products to last me until menopause (and I'm not kidding) and enough hand lotion and dental floss to last that long, too, but I keep clipping those coupons anyway...why do I do that?? lol

Anyway, thanks for your long and detailed response to my questions, Laura. I appreciate it!

PAM

Anonymous

You mentioned a lot of different stores. On average, how many stores do you go to each week? Thanks for taking the time to answer that question, I have been wondering the same thing.

Laura Webber

I always shop at Meijer, I maybe pop into Kroger twice a month. I usually head to CVS and Walgreens twice a month each, and maybe to Target once. I seriously don't shop a whole lot.

I just like to keep my options open.

Just for the easy to read recap: I may hit 3 stores per week, but one is strictly for groceries and two will be just to expand my stockpile.

Theresa

If you're looking for deals on apple juice, keep an eye on the Meijer ad. Motts apple juice and apple sauce goes on sale about once a month, and there's always a mealbox coupon and sometimes a printable! Whenever that sale rolls around, I buy 8 64 oz jugs at about $1 each. Don't give up! It took me pretty much a full 6 months to build a food stockpile such that I can go a week or two without shopping if I have to.

Laura Webber

Thanks for your encouragement Theresa!

Anonymous

Yes, thanks, Theresa! I will keep trying. Like I wrote, I have a good stock pile of certain things, just not the food items we use every day, like juice.

PAM

Michelle

I shop Meijer as my Main Store too! I love that they have good base prices, are a Michigan Based company, and their generic brands are excellent.

Do you shop the Livonia Meijer on Middlebelt and 96? If so, I have some questions about that store for you...

Monroe on a budget

I usually decide on two or three stores a week when I'm looking at the sales fliers.

I won't go to them both on the same day, and one might be the "get everything" trip vs. the "pick the bargains" trip.

But if you are already running errands across town, going to work, taking the kids somewhere, it won't be difficult to break up your shopping.

The more you get on the bargain picking shopping trips, the less you will have to spend full price for something you need on short notice.