Journey To Save On Grocery Spending

money calculator math

When I was a kid … okay, maybe not that far back, though at times it feels like it.  When I was first on my own, I lived in a dorm at college.  Meals were made for us with no worries.  I had to figure out one or two meals on my own during the school week, but nothing really difficult.  Usually I would pick up extras through the week and put them together when needed to make an extra meal.  This saved me from spending my limited money on food and save it for the coffee house on Friday nights.  🙂

When I found myself working away from home during the summers, I was not sure how exactly to reduce my grocery bill, except by buying less or cheaper foods.  Seemed like a sound idea, except I needed those extra calories as I had an active job outside.  Boy, oh, boy I wish I knew then what I know now.  I would have saved my blood sugar and iron levels the trouble of dipping low and leaving me tired a lot of the time.

When my husband and I were married, I began my ‘official’ journey to save money on our grocery bill.  See, my husband actually liked to eat food that, well, he liked.  He did not care if it was on sale or not, or if there was something cheaper.  He wanted a lot of the things that he liked.  I tried to convince him otherwise, but that did not go over so well.  His solution was for him to shop, but that right there turned out to be my biggest money saving tactic – leave the husband at home. (At first it was a joke, but over the years even he has come to realize how true it is.  If in doubt, just check our spending.  I can tell the exact shopping trips that he does versus just me.)

grocery aisle

It was in these early years that I learned of using coupons regularly and with sales, from a radio broadcaster with our local Christian station of all places.  This was in the earlier years of the internet and there was a lack of bloggers out there, were there any at all?, talking about ways to save money.  Looking back I wonder why it took me so long, but I was forging a new path all by myself, or so it felt.

While living in Very Large City and then moving to edge of Other Large City I had access to really good coupons, and lots of them.  Coupon use became the new way for me to lower our grocery bill.  There were some laughable moments along the way, and my husband was not sure exactly how sane I was, but we were spending less than we normally would have.

Then we moved to Small Town.  The In-the-middle-of-Big-Towns-but-not-really-close town.  Lets just say that if I were to shop only in Small Town, we could easily pay 1.5 times more and still not get all the groceries we are wanting.  The coupons in the paper here were horrible.  The Very Large Towns around us were no longer sending subscriptions to our area due to the increase in gas prices.  I felt lost and not sure what to do.  I could drive out of town each week, spend $8 in gas and an hour of drive time to get to cheaper stores, or I could save that time and stay in town.  My plan of attack had to change.

Slowly I learned of stores that would save me money and not take a lot of time.  I changed my shopping habits and started buying in larger quantities so I would not have to visit the stores as often.  This allowed me to rotate which store I visited each time, taking advantage of the unique savings at each store.

Instead of just looking at sales, I also started to pay attention to the prices of items in different stores, and looking for alternate ways to buy certain items (deli versus prepackaged, dry versus canned, etc.)  We also began our journey to learn how to make some of the items that we just could not get easily – fresh croissants, for example.

croissant breakfast

Last year, when we switched cell phone providers, not only did we save money on our monthly bill, we also joined the ranks of smartphone owners.  When a WiFi signal is available, I am able to connect to the internet.  This opened up a whole new realm of saving opportunities through phone apps.  (Some are also available if you only have access to online web pages, but most are through smart phones.)

Using apps to save you money is a bit different than using coupons, as these are usually in the form of rebates.  You get your money back at a later time, either once you upload a picture of your receipt or once you reach the minimum dollar amount.  Also, not all rebates are available from every store.  Most of the apps I  use do not give rebates for items from Small Town’s grocer, they have not opted in to these programs so I can not take advantage of most rebate savings by buying there.

While there are other apps out there that will save you money on your groceries, here are the ones I am currently using:

I also use Walmart’s Savings Catcher to ‘catch’ any saving I may have missed by not shopping at another local store.

Between shopping sales, rotating the stores I shop at, and using the above apps I continue to reduce our grocery bill every month. Now, if only they had these for insurance bills … but that is another post. 😉

This post contains affiliate links.  

*By signing up with these programs, I may be eligible to receive cash back, at this time, if you are a new member and redeem an offer. Just wanted to let you know that; it won’t take away from the fact that you will be lowering your spending and give you more money to use in other places.  New gardening gloves anyone?