Posted by: Zsuzsanna | January 27, 2009

Grocery Game update

To read previous posts on this subject, please click here.

I am still faithfully doing the “Grocery Game” every week at Fry’s (part of the Kroger group). Last fall, I added a second store, Albertsons, but quickly learned that they have much fewer items on sale, and that the deals are not nearly as good. There have been a few exceptions here and there, but by and large, I would not find the hassle of clipping and organizing coupons and matching them with the sales worth my time if it were only for Albertsons. In my area, a list for Whole Foods is also available, and while the sales are not that great it would still be worth if for someone who can afford to buy all organic foods.

Because I have been doing this for so long, my cupboards and fridges are loaded with food. I think I could easily feed our family for a full month if I had to just with what I have at home (except milk and produce). Of course, I would only do that in an emergency, i.e. if we had no money to buy any food. The stockpiles are part of the plan of saving money – when an item goes on sale, and I have coupons to make it even cheaper, I buy as many as I can. Hopefully, that will then last until I get another great sale months down the road, before my stockpile of that particular item runs out completely. Last year, I got a bunch of Nestle chocolate chips for free, and some more for 50 cents per bag, so I bought enough to last me until Christmas, at which time I was able to get a similar deal right around the time I was running out of them. Also last month, I was able to buy 5 lb bags of C+H sugar for 50 cents each, so I bought 10 bags which will last us for about one year. I store the food in our second fridge to keep the critters out (a very real danger in our warm climate).

This system has almost completely eliminated the need for making a weekly shopping list. I simply print the items I am interested in buying from the Grocery Game website. It is very rare that I have to add an item or two to my list that I will have to buy at regular price, because I have my own little well-stocked grocery store in my pantry.

The only foods I buy at regular price are meat and milk (which I buy at Sam’s Club) and produce (which I buy at a local health food store). Again, there are exceptions to this, as I often get “salad kits” for free after buying them on sale and using a matching coupon. There are also often coupons for cheese and other dairy products. If I don’t have any, I buy those at Sam’s as well.

Some products regularly end up being free after sale and coupon, some of which include: toothpaste, deodorant, toilet paper, softsoap, shampoo, condiments, and canned goods (beans, tomato sauce, etc.). Because I get coupons from friends of mine who don’t use them, I can stock up on these items and practically never have to buy them.

Here is a summary of today’s shopping trip:

Because it is hard to tell from the picture how much stuff there is, here is the exact list:

grapes
4 lbs strawberries
pears
4 jars of salsa
1 bottle of Juicy Juice 100% juice
6 cartons of Tropicana orange juice
3 boxes of Orville Reddenbacher all-natural microwave popcorn
1 bag of Lay’s BBQ potato chips
1 bag of goldfish crackers
2 boxes of Fiber One bars (5 each)
4 lbs of Kraft shredded cheese
4 packages of Nestle ready-to-bake cookies
6 Suave deodorant sticks
3 bottles French’s mustard
8 cans of Hormel chili
3 cans of Rotel diced tomatoes w/ green chiles
23 boxes of Kleenex with lotion tissues (2 of which were free, the rest 40 cents each)
3 packs of gum (NOT on my list, the kids totally talked me into this very convincingly – ugh)

(Items in green were FREE after sale + coupon)

Total shelf price for all this would have been: $ 224.52

Without coupons, just the store sales, this would have been: $ 124.87

I paid (after coupons and sales): $ 53.27

That is a savings of over 76%. By clipping coupons, I saved an additional $ 71.60 as opposed to just buying items on sale. This week’s figure is not unusual, I always range between 60-90% off. Again, I do buy meat, milk, and most produce at regular price (i.e. only on sale, but no coupon), so my overall grocery savings are “only” around 50%.

The Kleenex boxes prove my point from earlier: I now have enough to last us for several months (we do go through a lot because we have 5 kids and I have serious allergies this time of year). Hopefully, by the time I run out, I will be able to get another great sale on them rather than having to buy them at full price.

Best of all, this really is like a game, because it IS fun. If you have a store near you that is part of the Kroger group, and you have friends who can pass on their coupons, you may want to look into this.

Edited to add: Because several readers have asked about this, I wanted to mention that if you do sign up for the Grocery Game, and if you are so inclined, I would much appreciate you listing my e-mail address for the Grocery Game referral. Please note that this is still under my old e-mail address, zsanderson@cox.net, not my new e-mail address. Putting my address down will add free weeks to my subscription, but that is not why I blogged about it – I just wanted to let everyone know how much money it saves.

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Responses

  1. that is awesome savings…wonder if this is available in canada?

  2. Where do you store 23 boxes of Kleenex? LOL Sounds like a kindergarten classroom supply! haha

  3. I have tried this, but I am really bad at it…did it take you a little while to get into it and get doing it right? Then I want to make the excuse that I don’t have the time to do it right…lol…but you also have 5 and do it well! 🙂 Great job! Great savings!

  4. Hi Zsuzsanna!

    I’m afraid I missed something…How do I sign up for the grocery game?

    I’ve got 6 kiddos, and a husband whose income is down by about 1/3 in this wonderful economy. I am diligent about coupons, sales etc., but I am not nearly as clever as you!!

    HELP!!

    Thanks!

    Deb

    you can email me at deborahaday@gmail.com if you don’t want to leave it in the comments. Blessings to you and your family!

  5. Tereza,

    I don’t know, you’d have to check their website.

    Me,

    it took me a few weeks to get into a routine of clipping and sorting coupons and making a time to consistently go shopping each week. I aim for Monday afternoon, but sometimes I end up going on Tuesday.

    At the beginning, I also bought way too much toothpaste and toiletries when they were super cheap, not realizing that they go on sale or even end up free a lot of the time. I haven’t had to buy that kind of stuff in probably a year now, and still have lots in stock.

    Deb,

    You can sign up at http://www.thegrocerygame.com

    They offer a 4-week trial for $1, during which time you will be able to see all sales for the stores that are offered in your area. After the trial period, it’s $10 for 8 weeks for the first store and $5 for every other additional store. I currently subscribe to Fry’s and Albertson’s, so I pay $15 every 8 weeks.

    You should compare the stores in your area during the trial period and find the one with the best deals, and if you like it just subscribe to one store for starters. I only added my second store a few months ago after I was very efficient at the whole coupon thing.

    Hope this helps.


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