I shop at multiple grocery stores. Most weeks I try to keep it to two, but some weeks the sales are so good (or so bad!) that I go to all 3 in my area (this does not include drugstore game trips).
So how in the world do I decide WHERE to buy WHAT?
I will walk you through the anatomy of my grocery list here step by step.
1. It starts with store ads. My ads come on Wednesday. Which makes Wednesday a very exciting day for me (no that’s not sarcasm…I love this stuff!). My ads come later in the afternoon unfortunately, but if I have the heads up that a great promotion is coming I might stop off and grab the ads right at the store while I’m out running morning errands with the kids (I REALLY try not to do this. I have to get them both out of their car seats, they INSIST on the car cart, etc…).
2. I lay the ads out in front of me and I grab a black marker. The very first thing I do is look at the front pages of all 3 of my grocery stores (I tend to shop at HEB, Kroger and Randall’s). On the front page is where any big store promotions will be announced and also where their “loss leaders” are advertised (these are items that are marked down so much that the store is actually taking a loss when they sell it to you for that price. The hope is that THAT gets you in the door and you pay full price for everything else on your list. WE are not going to do that 😉 )
3. I circle in big black marker anything we need that is on the front page, and if the stores have the same item on sale I compare who is marked cheaper.
4. Next I move into the inside of the ads. Be cautious here. Just because it is advertised doesn’t mean it is a great deal. Go back and forth between all of your ads and compare prices, quantities and if the item is part of a promotion…what you need to do to fulfill the obligations and obtain the sale price (for instance, if it is a buy 10 participating items get $5 back promotion, make sure there are 10 items that you actually need and you won’t just be spending money to “save” money)
5. Now it’s judgment call time. I look at which ads have the most things circled and I try to evaluate whether the ad or ads that don’t have as much circled are really worth the gas and time to make a trip. If it’s just one or two items and the sale isn’t THAT great. I’ll save myself the stress and toss that ad for the week. Some weeks all 3 have an abundance of greatness that I just cannot pass up. Some weeks the sales are so dismal that I have to decide to suck it up and just go to one store and not save much, or just go grab the few deals available at each store. This step is pretty personal and depends on your time constraints for the week, your fund availability, etc. If I have several “need” items that I know I typically have to pay full price for I make sure HEB is included in my weekly trips for the week since that is my “everyday” low price store (for more on why the everyday low price store isn’t always the store you should be shopping at, read my article on How To Save Money Grocery Shopping)
6. Once I have everything that looks good circled, I pull out my coupon binder and my computer. I flip through and see if I have any coupons for any of the products on my ads. Even the ones that aren’t circled by me sometimes have a coupon that make it a circle-able deal. Afterwards I head on over to my computer to see if there are any printable coupons available in my Coupon Database.
7. So now that I have my sale items, and I have my coupons…I make sure I have my “needs” lists (milk, eggs, fruit, etc. The perishables I always have to buy weekly) and I’m ready to go!
For more info on how to save money grocery shopping, how to use coupons and how I organize my coupons, check out these links:
A quick example on why it pays to compare ads:
|Wish I had more freezer space!
How do you make your grocery lists?