Saturday, March 15, 2008

I Combed, I Shopped, I Conquered!

I ran out of time yesterday to post my Friday Favorites, because I FINALLY sat myself down and combed through my Giant flyer to prepare my grocery list. In recent months, I've fallen off the bandwagon of diligent home-management. Particularly in the area of grocery shopping and menu planning. This fall, we created a newer, tighter budget with an eye toward debt-reduction and adoption savings. It's been a challenge to take my cash and grocery shop for a two week period on the limit that we've set.

The first few months, I rose to the challenge by staying within the budget, creating meals on the cheap and utilizing the "stockpile" that we already had. Then came the holidays! Following quickly on the heels of the holidays came nasty, cold rainy winter days - the perfect days to stay home to bake and cook. And then came three weeks of colds, viruses and fevers. Thus, the current dilemma: my stockpile has been seriously depleted. For January and February, my grocery trips consisted mainly of quick runs to get what was completely depleted plus the obligatory milk, eggs, and bread. This is not working - my two HOOVERS (Shaggy and now Dr. D) prowl around the house with their stomachs growling and roaring for more. The most commonly used phrase in this house has become, "Is there anything else to eat?" No matter what I make or purchase, I. cannot. keep. up. with. these. appetites.

So, this week I set out to reclaim my territory. I updated my whole coupon file, worked on a comprehensive list of grocery needs, and prepared my list. Making a grocery list is a daunting task for me. I have three primary goals: to save the absolute most money possible, to provide a quantity of healthy foods that fill up the HOOVERS, and to give me some room for creativity and variety in the kitchen. (Because I love to cook, you know!) Dovetailing all three of those goals into one lump sum of cash is overwhelming, and requires all of my concentration when I am this behind and this depleted. Certainly not my favorite way to spend a Friday.

Here's my process: I sit down with my coupon file, the sales flyer, a notepad and a pen. I read through each section of the flyer with a fine-tooth comb, noting sales and searching for matching coupons. If I get a sale item to match a coupon (and it's a product we use regularly), it goes on the list with an "s" and a "c" circled beside it. I also briefly note the sale details for quick reference in the store. If I get a Buy One, Get One Free item and a matching coupon (or two!), I note the item and mark "BOGO" and "c" next to it. That, my friends is my jackpot! If it's an item that's really discounted but there's no coupon, it just gets an "s." Finally, I note the items that we need, regardless of sales or coupons. As I'm noting these things, I'm brainstorming meals that I can make with the ingredients on the list. This is why I tend to put off this task to the last possible minute: it represents the ultimate in my multi-tasking skills and my family sees precious little of my face on "list day." Especially when it's been so long since I've done a real trip.

But the efforts paid off big time, my friends. I talked The Boss into joining me for this Friday night outing, to calculate as we strolled. We filled the cart to overflowing, coordinated coupons, adding to the list and deleting from it along the way. The extra bonus? He got to see up close and personal the exact process I go through to fill our pantry twice a month (not always in this volume, I admit!).We unloaded the cart, The Boss started bagging (and filled two carts!) as I watched the screen to note prices and errors. I purposely held my BonusCard till the clerk was done ringing up my whole order cuz I LOVE THE THRILL of seeing all the Bonus Buys coming off the original price. Then, I triumphantly handed him my coupons. This week, I utilized all four of my $1 Doublers, plus several receipt-driven coupons and manufacturer's coupons. Here are the results of my labor:

Total Cost before any sales, discounts, etc.: $311.89
Total Bonus Card savings: $97.47
Total Extra Rewards savings: 6.00
Total Manufacturer Coupons savings: 24.40
Doubled Coupon savings: 3.25


And that's not even including the raincheck at Acme that I redeemed on the way to Giant, where I saved 55% of my bill on pre-made Pillsbury pizza crusts that were on sale last week! Woooooo Hooooooo!

I Combed, I Shopped, I Conquered!

P.S. Please don't be afraid to come back
and visit The Gang again. I don't usually
go on this long in one post!!!!


Heidi @ GGIP said...

Oh, you should link to the Super Saving Saturday at Money Savings Mom today!! Great job!

I did pretty well at Giant this week too. Next week's circular doesn't seem to have as many great deals for me.

Do you ever use the forum at Hot Coupon World? That sometimes can be helpful too. Here is the Giant one:

Michelle said...

Wow...this is super great!! I hope to be this good someday.

Bobby & Regina said...

I believe I need to take lessons from you!!


Michelle said...

I'll second the hotcouponworld site. I'm all up in that Giant-PA forum! Congrats on the shop. GREAT JOB!!!

Natalie said...

WOW, I am super impressed. I'm going to have to sit down and try and duplicate your process. Congrats!

Carol said...

I think the highest I ever got was about $54.00......I'm impressed!

We definetly need those coupons now! Have you looked at the price jump lately on BREAD!!!

mylittlenest said...

WOW....I'm impressed. I think I'll check the local paper for coupons now (:

christie said...

I love your story! I miss coupons...we don't get a newspaper right now, and it's so sad to not be able to clip and use coupons and see those huge savings show up. And I love that you wait to swipe your bonus card...I do the same thing sometimes! :)

Classic MaMa said...

Awesome "game"! (That's what we call the clipping, combing, shopping thing here)

Promises Fulfilled said...

I have been meaning to comment on this - you ROCK! I just went to Giant the other day and I bought $66 worth of groceries for $27! It feels so good to save $$ and stretch your dollars!