Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Safeway trip 6/15,

I forced myself to hit Safeway today for the sales that are set to end today, and as usual when I just don't feel like it, I still ended up glad that I went. My son would rather be in the garden, but he was a good sport! I don't plan to start listing all the sales and where I get the coupons from, because I'm sorry my dears, but that would take a LONG time! So instead, I thought I should share a few of my techniques, and show you what kind of savings you can accomplish with these techniques. So I bought;

Lucky Charms (don't tell anyone, these are better than candy to me. Well, really they are candy...)
BBQ sauce
Kraft Mayo (the new flavored stuff)
2 bags Cheetos
3 bags Rold Gold pretzels
2 bags snyders pretzels
2 boxes Ritz Crackerfuls (I've been wanting to try these, they ended up tasting just okay in my opinion)
7 packages of Sargento cheese slices
1 head of Romaine
3lbs Granny Smith apples
2lbs strawberries

My total out of pocket cost was $13.94, a savings of 85% according to Safeway. I used 32.50 in coupons, including paper coupons and e-coupons. So here are my suggestions on how to start saving money like this.

1. Be flexible; you'll notice the only vegetable I bought was lettuce. We eat a lot of fruit and veg, so this is not going to be enough to get us through the week by any means, but it was the only sale price I was willing to pay. I will pick up some cauliflower at FTC on Thursday, and hope for some good prices on produce at Haggar's, but otherwise, we'll be using canned and frozen veg this week. As far as fruit, I have also bought grapes at Haggar's (1.49/lb through today only), apples at Sam's ($1/lb, which is the most I'm willing to pay), and I have some kiwis that are ripening too. If there are absolutely no good produce prices, we stick with bananas and apples.
2. Stockpile; you can't stock up on fresh produce, but you definitely can buy meat at it's cheapest, and freeze it. I don't need any meat now, nor for the next 6 months probably, so I didn't buy any.
3. Keep stockpiling; My son loves pretzels, and they are better for him than other snacks, but I have been waiting and waiting for a good sale on them. And here it came, so yes, I bought 5 bags, even though it will last him several weeks. The goal is to buy enough to last until the next good sale comes along!
4. Know what you use; it's rare that I buy cereal, basically my rule is that I absolutely only buy it when it's free. We don't eat much cereal, and I have more than enough in my stock. The cereals that I purchased today actually resulted in overage of 2.27 for me, because I had e-coupons loaded on my Safeway card, and I used paper coupons too. Overage is when your coupons take off more than the price of the items, and you need to make sure you have other items in your order to apply the overage to. Overage is the gold standard of couponing, and it helps you cut the price of things that you rarely see coupons for, like produce.
5. Look for coupons everywhere; you know all the junk that prints out from the register along with your receipt? This can be a really good source for unique coupons. For example, one of the coupons I used today was for $1 off bagged Safeway produce (the apples). I can only hope I get that one again!
6. Be willing to change your habits; the one thing I used to watch really closely for sales on was soda. When I got pregnant with my son, I stopped drinking my one Mt. Dew/day. Recently, my husband realized that his several Pepsi's a day were really tearing his stomach up. Not having to buy those items has definitely made staying within budget easier. You have to decide what works for you, but think about cutting back even if you're not willing to give it up completely. I can tell you that when the only beverage you have to buy is milk, you'll save money!
7. Last tip for today is rain checks; when something is on a really good sale, make sure you get a rain check for it if they are out of stock. The Sargento cheese slices were on sale for 2.99/package, which is not going to happen, but I had a rain check from when they were on sale for 1.49/package. I combined that with coupons from the Dairy recipe book that you can find in the store, as well as the coupon here for one of them, and I bought 7 packs for 6.38 (I think). That's more like it. I left with a rain check too, for raspberries at 2.49/pint.

So what do you think? This is a very different approach to shopping for me, compared to how I used to shop. Used to be, I wrote a list and bought anything and everything we needed, regardless of how much it was. I would try to buy whatever was on sale, but really when you shop that way, you're at the mercy of the sales cycle, and it's rare that you hit it just right without some effort. I have plenty of staples right now, so while the items I bought today do not represent a well balanced diet, I can assure you that we eat much healthier than we used to, because I cook almost all of our meals.

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