For the next month I will be challenging myself to stick to a meal plan. I have been in such an incredible rut lately when it comes to dinners! Honestly, it’s ridiculous. I come home with tons of food for next to nothing and yet still, I stare into my pantry as if there is nothing there.
I finally came to the realization that I just needed someone to tell me what to do! I had read about E-Mealz on another blog once before and it was given pretty good reviews. So I contacted the company and asked if I could review a meal plan and (because I’m always thinking of my lovely readers!) give away a meal plan to one of my wonderful readers.
Not only did they say yes, they are letting me try out an entire month worth of meal plans. In addition, at the end of this month, when I give my final review of the plan…I will be giving away a THREE MONTH SUBSCRIPTION to E-Mealz for one very lucky winner!
Let me preface this weeks grocery shopping trip with this sad sad fact: we were running low on just about EVERYTHING before I grocery shopped tonight. This is a big rarity in this household since I started shopping with coupons. I’ve been busy, the sales have been underwhelming, and I just hadn’t done a good stock up trip!
Today I went in with my E-Mealz list and a list of staples we badly needed. I had much more luck with my E-Mealz list this week, I found everything I needed. Sale prices were different, but there was only one thing that was remarkably more expensive. I knew going into this challenge that the Kroger list I chose was not based off of Kroger sales in my region, so it’s not something I am faulting E-Mealz about at all. For the most part, things are pretty similar though.
How much did you save?
This was a pretty high grocery bill this week, but I was low on a lot of things so I feel good about it!
Total Spent: $118.99 Total Saved $33.97
I’m going to try to keep my opinions on the meal plan to myself until I do my final review at the end of the month. Based on week 1’s menu though…things are headed in a positive direction!
My baby boy and I had a date night tonight. We went to CVS and to Kroger. I don’t concentrate as well when I shop with the kids. It was well worth it though. We had fun!
I sometimes forget just how little and silly he can be. He is big brother and I think he is convinced he has a “rep” to uphold. When you get him alone, so many other sides of his personality shines through!
This wasn’t a big coupon trip tonight. Mainly needs and some wants. Oh and water. Lots of water.
Spent: $77.55 Saved: $34.68
So a fun Friday night date with my little guy getting groceries! I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend my Friday night.
I’ll post my CVS trip tomorrow. I need to go to another CVS to finish up!
Want to learn more about saving money grocery shopping? Read my article here Would you like to see some of my previous shopping trips? Head on over here!
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:
Since this week is Mega Event Week at Kroger, I stocked up on some pantry and donation items. And CHEESE! I was so excited when I realized that the cheese on sale was for the 1 lb bags of Kraft shredded! $2.79 a bag and after the Kraft Catalina $5 OYNO each bag was only $1.79 each. I split up my transactions so I could use the $5 in the same shopping trip. Because the Kraft cheese was only $2.79 if it was part of the mega deal I also included in that transaction 3 other participating products (and I had 2 $1 off of 2 Kraft cheese coupons! Sweetened the deal even more!). Last night was the first time my husband has gone grocery shopping with me since I started couponing. I wanted him to see how cool it is to see the price go down down down. He wasn’t disappointed.
Last night totals at Kroger: 1st transaction 5 bags of 1 lb Kraft cheese 2 Gogurt Yogurts 1 Bumblebee tuna Total Due $16.03 Total Saved $23.29 (I just now realized that she didn’t scan my $1/2 Gogurt Yogurts. Hmmm, that’s unfortunate!)
2nd transaction: 6 Green Giant Steamers Frozen Veggies 6 Hamburger Helpers (GREAT donation item) 1 Chex 2 Gardettos 4 Crescent Rolls 4 Cinammon Rolls 6 Bumble Bee Tuna 1 California Pizza Kitchen Pizza 2 Old El Paso Taco Shells 1 Wanchai Ferry Frozen Entree 1 Capri Sun Value pack of Pork Ribs Bread Flour small trash bags for Colin’s office Total Due $34.11 Total Saved $54.36
Everything pictured above:
Cost $127.79 Paid $50.14 Saved $77.65
I’d call that a success! Later today I will go to Randalls to stock up on some meat and fresh fruits and veggies. Happy Shopping!