at least 4 lbs of produce
at least 4 lbs of meat
If I can do my grocery shopping, include those staple items, use my coupons, and get 60% or more off on my receipt, that helps validate my purpose of being a coupon instructor.
One of the top asked questions I get is, "Yeah, but do you really eat or use all that stuff you buy?"
My answer is always YES. Not only do I eat and use it, but the coupons used to attain those items offset the cost of the staple items that rarely or NEVER have coupons available.
This takes a lot of planning, time, and PATIENCE. This is NOT my usual shopping trip. I have to set aside time to get this "assignment" done.
How do I do it? That's the 2nd most frequently asked question I receive.
First, I compare ads. Now, these ads list the sale price. I look for what has the a really low sale price. I notate that and log it on my notepad which flags me when I'm in the store to look for it. Then, I look for the sale items that have a store coupon (possibly) on top of the sale. After I find those, I go through my coupon inventory and see if I have a manufacturer coupon (MQ) to stack on top of that for a deeper discount.
I gather my list, my "flags", my calculator, notepad, and pencil and head to the store that offers me the best deal that week.
Once I get there I look for the regular prices. Why? So I can calculate what my true savings is. Without that regular price, the sale price is meaningless. Again, rule no 1 as a couponer, you DON'T shop for need, you shop for rock bottom price. With that being said, I don't care if my kids don't feel like eating apples this week. If it's on sale for $0.89 a pound from $2.19, they're eating apples.
I continue on my route through the store searching for deals and deep sales. As I move along, I tally up two columns on my note pad. One shows the sale price after coupons and the other the total price based on the regular price before any sales and coupons. As I continue to load stuff in my cart and rack up my bill, I subtotal everything and do the math to calculate my TOTAL percentage in savings.
This exercise has taught me that at civilian stores, the savings will almost always be much deeper than at the commissary. Commissary prices are low margin. Unlike civilian stores where they have huge mark ups on items, especially cereal. I had no idea civilians were paying up to $7 or $8 per box! I've also learned by that you can easily score savings of 60% or more simply by looking for a closeout or super sale item. Example: The fudge brownie mix I just bought was on sale for $1.29. Regular price was $3.89. That sale alone is 67% without any coupons. Now, had I gotten this in the commissary, I probably would've paid under $1 for that same box. But the object of the game here is to get commissary prices at civilian stores. That extra $0.29 I paid covers the gas and extra time I would've spent just getting to Pearl Harbor or Schofield.
This is the THIRD time I've attempted this and either I'm a complete idiot or I'm overfocused on my numbers that I'm always forgetting ONE thing and I ALWAYS walk out at 59%. Was this just not meant for me? The first time, it was because I was a dummy and fell for the B1G1 mini heat and go pancakes for the kids. I wasn't paying attention to savings and came out at 58%. I was thinking about what the kids NEEDED and not my "scorecard". Fail.
Second time, I forgot to hand over my save $0.30 coupons x 5 for the gummy bears. THAT mistake cost me 1% of my goal. That taught me to pay attention to my coupons and the cashier. Because that same trip, the cashier failed to mark down my milk to 99 cents from $5.79. Fail, again.
Tonight, I was so busy calculating my pork and beans savings I forgot to grab the five cans and dump it in my cart! ugh! This is why sometimes, its helpful to have RJ with me to help. While I'm calculating, he helps me gather my thoughts and the items. TRIPLE FAIL.
Why am I so hard on myself on this? Because it's a goal I set for myself and I'm always falling short on it for extremely stupid and careless mistakes. Each of these trips took me TWO hours in the grocery store. I'm calculating, finding good percentages, and figuring out if I should get more or less of the really good sale items to help me hit my goal. I must be delirious after all is said and done and I slip up.
Each time I prepare, I tell myself not to screw it up again. And it never fails. I'm not going to give up trying. I will try again. On the flip side, getting a 59% savings on my grocery bill is still impressive. See the picture below? Without sales or coupons, that shopping trip would've costed me $144.58 plus tax. I paid $60.05. In the end, I still win. I have food for my house. My husband is happy with all the candy. My daughter is happy cause she has her soy milk. My son is happy because he has pasta and more food to cook with.
And you know what, by spending between $50-$60 a week on fresh produce and meats in this manner, I actually spend less than I do when I do my large shopping trips in the commissary every month. $200-$240 a month for a family of 5 shopping at a civilian grocery store? That's pretty damn good if you ask me. And the savings don't end there. I use Ibotta. A rebate app where I get MONEY BACK for the stuff I just bought using coupons and sales. Ha! I win again!
Till my next shopping trip...
Thanks for reading!
Gala Apples 5.41 lbs = $4.81
Kraft Dressing $0.73 each, used $0.55/2 MQ's
Capri Sun $1.50 each, used in ad $1/2 Q
Cake Mix $1.62 each, used $0.75/2 MQ
M&M's $0.40 each, and used B2G1 MQ
Chicken Thighs $9.19
Soy Milk $2.88
Pasta $0.79 each, used $1/2 MQ
Chef Boyardee $0.99 each
Brownie mix $1.29 each
I also used 5 of my own bags and got $0.15 in bag credits.
Everything I purchased was on sale and in the ads from the Sunday Star Advertiser paper and the Midweek.