This week I posted deals for Hamburger Helper, ice cream and canadian bacon. These “HOT” deals are at stock-up prices, but today I went to the store and didn’t buy any of it. I think non-couponers or even new couponers get DISCOURAGED because they think that the super-duper “Coupon Queens” of the world, never pay for anything and they can’t figure out how to feed their families real food with coupons. Shows like Extreme Couponing feed this stereotype. So this post is for you – to reassure you that to live a healthy, balanced life, you probably have to spend some money at the grocery store. You can still shop bargains and use coupons to save big, but you don’t have to live off boxed or packaged food. I talk about this in my coupon classes – think meals, not just deals.
Today I spent $75 at Fred Meyer. Price before coupons was $133, so I did save a whopping $58 with coupons, but I certainly didn’t walk out of the store for nothing. I don’t shop like this every time I go to the store, but I just returned from a 10-day vacation and our fridge was empty – so we needed a lot of non-perishables. I was still practically giddy at some of the deals I scored, even if they weren’t free.
Here are some tips to saving on REAL food ::
The coupons – I gathered up all my FREE coupons that I’ve received in the mail recently and brought those with me on my trip. I like to use my “FREE” coupons at Fred Meyers because you rack up your Rewards points on the pre-coupon price. I also brought with me the AWESOME Associate discount coupon, which saved me a bunch of money.
Know the promotions, shop the sales – I shopped at Fred Meyer today primarily because of the Associate discount coupon. I knew it would save me an extra 10% off health foods (from Nutrition Center/Healthy food section of store) and also on Kroger brand items – like cheese, yogurt, etc. All the produce that I bought was on sale. I bought A LOT of produce – but got some amazing prices.
Shop dairy, produce or meat markdowns – If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you know I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE (really that much love) manager markdowns on dairy, produce and meat. We needed milk. This gallon of milk had a sell-by date of August 15 – so it has a good week left in it and it was $2.79 (half price!) plus I got an extra 10% off with the Associate discount coupon – so only $2.50 for a $5 gallon of organic milk. I love these markdowns so much I’ve written about them a couple times:
Avoid the “it sounds good” purchases – Apples sounded good and I even filled up a bag with Gala apples for $1.49 a pound. But after I thought about it, I put them back. Why? Because organic nectarines and peaches were on sale for $1.48 a pound and I thought that was a much better use of my money (my son thought so too – and had one for dessert tonight!). I was thinking fajitas sounded like a good meal this week and peppers were only $1.25 each, but I couldn’t find tortillas for under $2.50, so I passed on fajitas for this week. Read a recent post I wrote about:
Do you really need it? This is related to the topic above, but today at Fred Meyer there were clearance items EVERYWHERE. Super duper deals on shoes, clothes, accessories. Items 60-75% off everywhere after coupons, but I passed. It helped that I had went to a garage sale this morning and scored 16 clothing items for my kids for only $4 (a quarter a piece), so the little dresses that would have been $4-5 today at Fred Meyer didn’t seem like that good of a deal anymore. BUT, we desperately needed socks for my son and I found a pack on clearance (the striped ones) for $3.19 and the athletic socks for $4.24.
My daughter needs some tights for this fall and I found some on clearance – and paid only $1.60 a package, instead of the regular price of $6. I passed on all the other things that would have been nice to have, but just weren’t really necessary at this time.
Have a plan for your produce – Produce isn’t cheap. There is nothing worse than forking over $4 for lettuce and then finding it go bad in the fridge. Not frugal and certainly not fun to clean up. So when you buy things like produce, dairy or meat (all perishable items) have a plan and watch it closely so it doesn’t go bad. Incorporate it into your meal planning. Like I mentioned early, we had nectarines for dessert tonight.
Know there is a place for those stockpile deals – Ice cream for 50 cents a tub probably won’t make you a meal but it can be great to have when you having birthday cake – and it’s better to get it when it’s 50 cents than $3.99! Or canadian bacon by itself isn’t going to keep you nourished, but if you like Hawaiian pizza, I’d be picking it up when it’s $0.23 cents versus $1.70! Those kinds of deals don’t have to rule your menu planning, but if you eat them, stock up on them when they are so inexpensive! And . . .this leads me to my last point. . .
Don’t judge, don’t compare your shopping with others – I do get emails from people that say, “Can’t believe you feed your family that crap!” or “All trash food.” As you can see from my shopping trip today, I don’t feed my family only Hamburger Helper and ice cream. In fact, I’ve never even made Hamburger Helper, but some people do. I don’t make the deals, I just report them. Buy the foods your family likes and try to do it frugally, but don’t judge others for their choices at the check stand. And don’t compare your shopping trips to the reality couponing shows or even to coupon blogs – because you usually only see the very best deals and not the deals that = meals.
HERE ARE SOME OF THE ITEMS I PURCHASED TODAY ::
Ore-Ida Sweet Potatoes Fries – FREE, with coupon requested from Facebook
Healthy Choice Frozen Meal – FREE, with coupon that came in the mail (don’t remember where I requested it?)
Fresh Express Spinach – FREE, with coupon from Vocal Point
Jif Peanut Butter, 8 pack – FREE with coupon that I requested from Target sample spot
Pantene Pro V Conditioner – FREE with coupon that came in the mail.
So don’t forget to request those FREE coupons! The savings can really add up.
Glue sticks – $0.39 cents – 10% from Associate discount = $0.33 cents
Spiral notebooks – $0.10 cents each – 10% from Associate discount = $0.09 cents each
Fred Meyer canned veggies – $0.50 cents, with in-ad coupon – 10% from Associate discount $0.45 cents each
Simply Asia soups – $1 each- $1/2 peelie coupons = $0.50 cents each
EnviroKids cereal – $2.50 – $1 manufacturer coupon from Chinook Book = $1.50 – 10% from Associate discount = $1.25 a box
If you don’t have a Chinook Book, you can print a $1.50/2 coupon here.
Fred Meyer hamburger buns – $1.25 – 10% from Associate discount = $1.12 each
The majority of my order was produce, here’s what I paid and my tentative plans for it:
Broccoli – $0.88 cents a pound (broccoli stir fry)
Zucchini/squash – $0.79 cents a pound (grilling side)
Leaf lettuce = $1 each (salads)
Onions – $0.59 cents a pound (broccoli stir fry)
Bananas – $0.64 cents a pound (breakfasts)
Organic cabbage – $0.69 cents a pound (eggrolls)
Radishes – $0.44 cents (salads)
Tomatoes on vine – $1.28 a pound (Tomato Feta Relish and also condiments on burgers)
Organic nectarines/peaches – $1.48 a pound (snacks)
Cucumbers – $0.50 cents each (salads)
What are your thoughts about this? Do you feel like your shopping trips are inadequate? Do you sometimes wonder how people only survive on FREE stuff? I’d love to hear from you, leave a comment below. . .