Pinching pennies grocery shopping

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It might just be me but I look at my weekly grocery shopping as a task that is a necessary evil.  I mean food is needed of course but I hate anything that I pretty much HAVE to have that requires I spend money.

I used to do really well spending about $40 a week on groceries (proof is in the pudding).  And I did that for a while, until I started to feel like it took too much out of my day since I would stop at 2 sometimes 3 different places just to get my groceries. Time became more important but I still love a good deal.

Even though my focus has shifted to saving time, I still love me some money saving.

So I have started the following routine:

I make a monthly menu with a weekly grocery list.  If there are things I can buy in bulk (like meats, canned goods, dry pastas, spices, – you know anything non-perishable) it goes on my buy ahead list.  A trip to Costco ensues.  Then every week I go through the cupboards to see what we already have in the house from the list and make a list of just what I need including breakfast and lunch items as well as fresh fruits and veggies.

I tracked where I spent the least money on different grocery trips for 2 months.  I found that I spent the least at Target between Target, Cub, and Wal-mart.  Each store has some sort of program geared at loyalty that helps cut your costs.  Cub does a discount on gas and Wal-mart does a savings catcher app which basically scans the ads in your area and gives you back any money on items they found for less.

I find that Target’s Cartwheel app is the best value for my family.  On the plus side – there are always TONS of discounts and you can use a cartwheel, a Target coupon, and a manufacturer coupon on the same item.  On the down side, you really have to watch to be sure all the discounts finish coming of before your cashier totals you order.  I missed that one the other day and had to either leave the savings on the table or go back and get it corrected.  It felt silly to ask them to adjust the 5% here 10% there but I saved $3.50 by doing so.

I also love the Ibotta app.  I am currently a little obsessed with it because I just made a huge rebate earlier this month.  Between buying diapers for the new baby due in August and grocery shopping, I managed to get a rebate of about $20.  The app gives you rebates for doing ‘fun tasks’ like watching a short video, answering a survey question, or ‘learning’ a fact or recipe and it is so easy.  Basically you just buy what you normally would then check the app for rebates, perform the task to unlock and submit the rebate.  You get a response in 24 hours – in my experience usually sooner.  You also can build a team and work on bonus rebates as a group.  This month I have already earned an additional $4 and am close to earning an additional $3.  Down side is that you need to shop at the select stores in the app.

Finally, my newest app is very similar to Ibotta, but is run by Groupon.  The benefit to this app over the Ibotta app is that you can redeem the rebate from any store.   The app is called Snap and usually has higher value rebates.  I have found that the rebates (like actual Groupons) are usually ‘sold out’ when they are ones I want to use and the available rebates are usually pretty limited.  The plus side is that most rebates seem to be at least $1 and sometimes more, they just aren’t always so relevant to my purchases.

And of course there is Shopkick.  This app gives you points for walking into selected stores and even more if you choose to scan the selected items.  These points can be redeemed starting at 500 points for gift cards.  I usually like to get the Starbucks or Target gift cards.  A cup of coffee just because I open an app each time I walk into Target?  Yes, please.  I don’t mind if I do.

And of course there is the little discount of 5% available at Target for having a Target debit card … that certainly helps the matter.

What are your tips and tricks for slashing that inevitable grocery bill?

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