Thursday, May 15, 2008

Another plug for the "Grocery Game"

Regular readers of my blog probably know that I love doing the Grocery Game. While I won't go into how it works here, you can either read my previous posts on this subject (click on the "grocery game" label in the right column), or read about it on their website.

Today, I wanted to mention that they have recently added "Whole Foods" to the list of grocery stores in my area that they publish sales for. The savings at Whole Foods are not nearly as significant as at conventional grocery stores, nor do they accept multiple coupons. But it is still nice to know what their sales are since you wouldn't even have a coupon for most of the sales - it's more just items that are on sale. This is due to the fact that organic food manufacturers don't give out coupons very much. The average savings is 20-30% off shelf price on the advertised items. I use this only to buy/stock up on things that I only ever buy at the health food store because there is not an all-natural version available at the conventional store. For example, this week I stocked up on BBQ sauce and ginger sodas, and a couple of other things I can't remember now.

You can check the Grocery Game website to see which stores they offer sales fliers for in your area. Even if they don't offer Whole Foods (or a similar store) where you live, you can find organic alternatives for popular grocery items at most conventional grocery stores these days. They do go on sale periodically, and you can then stock up on them. You may even be able to combine the sale price with a coupon.

When I buy items off the Grocery Game list for the particular store I shop at (Fry's Market) I limit myself to only the all natural items. For example, even if I can get Betty Crocker boxed potatoes for $.25/box (as opposed to $1.99) I won't buy them because of how unhealthy they are. The only exception to that rule is if I end up getting an item for free, in which case I get it and give it to someone who likes/needs that food. This week for example I had 7 coupons for Lawry's marinade, all of which were free after combining the coupons with the current sale price. I won't be using any of them, but some people I know might want them.

My favorite item this week was all natural, nitrite-free bacon, which usually costs $6.99/lb. After sales and double coupons, I ended up getting 7 packs at less than $2 each. I'm not saying that you should be eating bacon every day or even every week, but if you are going to eat it, you might as well eat the healthiest kind. I also got 4 boxes of organic cereal (Panda Puffs) at $2.50 each, which usually sell for almost twice that much. It's a nice occasional change of pace form the cheerios/oatmeal/granola we usually eat for breakfast. So there are plenty of healthy items to be found even if you are into all-natural foods. I realize that ideally we would all be eating organic 100% of the time, but I have never met anyone who was able to afford that. Hopefully, as consumer demand grows, the prices will continue to go down.

Even with me being somewhat super-picky about what I am willing to put in my cart, I still end up saving tons because of the number of coupons I have - other ladies at church give me their unneeded coupons from the Sunday paper. I have read that you can also get coupons from the library, schools, offices, waiting rooms etc. (which get the paper). Even buying several copies yourself would be worth the investment. This week, by shopping sales and using the coupons, I paid $83 for $255 worth of food. $50 of that saving was from the coupons, compared to the $2/week that I pay for my subscription to the Sunday paper and the Grocery Game.

Finally, I want to say that of course there is a downside to all this - it is very time consuming. On average, it takes me about 3 hours per week to clip the coupons, organize them alphabetically, and then pull out the specific ones I will be using that week. The shopping takes another hour, less if I can leave the kids home with my husband. Still, the savings per hour of work is more than what most women in the workforce earn. Best of all, I don't have to go work a "real job" and have my kids watched by others all day because I have the time to save money instead.

On that note, I'm off to the thrift store for half-off savings today!

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