Friday, 8 March 2013

Grocery Shopping on a Budget

I made this costume from a thrifted teddy bear toddler cosutme and an old orange t-shirt. We save all over the place. Abby the Ewok, October 2012.
     Recently, Mark and I have been pulling out all the savings stops to lower our weekly grocery bill. I budget for around $100.00/week but really hope to be under that. We save quite a bit using a few tricks I've learned online and through friends.  We shop at Walmart because we've found it to be most convenient. There are quite a few grocery stores  and pharmacies that have similar rules though!
Here's what we do:

1. Meal Planning: Not only does this step save us money, but it saves us time and effort too. After going through the store flyers to see what's on sale for the week I decide the menu for seven lunches and dinners. I try to stay away from doing a Monday thru Friday list and stick to a 1-7 instead so we can switch things up and keep options open depending on time and how we feel that day. We try to do a variety of chicken, beef, pork and vegetarian recipes but the sales really dictate how we eat unless regular prices aren't that high. 
     Now that we've been doing this for a while, we have a list of favourites that we rotate. We both love to cook too though, and often use Pinterest and cookbook or magazine recipes when something catches our eye. We try it out, and if we like it, it gets added to our favourites rotation.  Having all the ingredients on hand, knowing the steps to prepare the meal and knowing the yield is very helpful when you have opposite work schedules and a five month old baby. 

2. Ad Matching:  Because we shop at Walmart, we look through all the Ontario store flyers for sale items. Walmart will price match just about anything, and our experiences have always been positive. If you're like me and fear the worst (21 questions with the cashier) then definitely take a look at their corporate website page for the coupon and ad matching policies. We've price matched cheese for a month now, and I don't think we'll ever pay over $4.44 again.  We've also price matched chicken, spinach, pasta sauce, frozen pizza, peanut butter and a variety of other items. 
     It may be somewhat time consuming to start, but it's actually become a weekly routine for me, and I love finding great deals. We've currently got enough meat for the next two weeks and cheese for the next three weeks in our fridge,  and our total grocery bill was still only $112.00. I use the flyerland website to navigate sales ads, it saves me time at the register too since we don't get paper ads in our building.

3. Coupons: Walmart will also take coupons, even after a price match- which can save you TONS. In some cases you're getting money back. I use a few websites to collect coupons, but you can also clip them from magazines, newspapers, flyers and product packaging. Keep an eye out for manufacurer offers and rebates online too. Have a staple or favourite product at home? Email the company and ask if they have samples or coupons, and that you love their product. I've done that a few times now and have received great coupons! For print at home and mail order coupons try the following sites: 

And if you have a smartphone the app Check Out 51 is great! They partner with companies each week to send rebates when you send them a picture of your receipt for one of the featured products. Once you've reached $20.00 in rebates they actually send you a cheque. We've used this a few times already, on sale items too (making some of them free). All the small things add up after all. 
     I'll do another post on freebies and samples for expectant mothers too, it requires a post on its own! 
     But while I'm here, if you end up with coupons you won't use before their expiry dates, or some that you know you just won't use anyway then try posting them on sites like kijiji or craigslist. I did that with some infant formula coupons we weren't going to use and ended up with a bag of diapers, a super pack of wipes and a ziploc full of grocery coupons! You'd be amazed by what certain coupons are worth to people, it's practically currency. There are also facebook groups devoted to swapping and informing each other of sales or bargains. I've learned the most from other people in these groups. They meet up too, and swap or give freebies away. It's a great way to meet other bargain hunters and save a few bucks. It's worth a look even if it makes you feel like a crazy coupon lady.

I promise we're still young and hip, even if I do coupon like a mad woman, and compare prices like an old lady. ps- I made this dress too.
    I could go on forever about this...but I won't. Happy shopping!

PS- Google SCOP policies for the stories you frequent. You can thank me later! (:

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