Monday, October 4, 2010

Savin' on groceries, big time.

When I was first married, I did not know how to grocery shop. At all. I never made a list, never checked prices, and I had no idea how much of anything to buy. So, like, I'd buy a bag of apples and half of them would be rotten before we'd ever get to them. Or, I'd buy a loaf of bread despite having four already in the freezer.

(Why am I even admitting this?)

I tried keeping up those seat-of-my-pants shopping habits and we pretty much wound up flat broke with a freezer full of bread. Ah, but we were young! And in love! So who cares! Plus, bread is good and very versatile when you're a poor student.

Well, we eventually had a baby and I had to start shopping a little smarter. Bubby was formula-fed, and in case you didn't know, that stuff is expeeeeeeensive. And some kind of switch turns on in your head the instant you have a kid -- you suddenly feel an intense need to be responsible. So I quit filling my cart with useless loaves of bread and started making a list before I embarked on my Monday night trip to Macey's. And the grocery bill came down a fair amount.

Then, we moved to Arizona and I discovered the joy of Super Wal-Mart, which they don't really have in Provo (they do in Orem, but it was kind of far from us so we rarely went). I have a love-hate relationship with Wal-Mart, as you all know. I love the prices, but I hate the rest of it. But since I'm a capitalist on a budget, that's where I get my groceries. Just by getting the generic brand of everything, I save a ton of money. After a while, I got into this groove of going to Wal-Mart and spending about the same thing every time I got groceries: $75. And $75 a week is pretty reasonable for a family of three, right? I figured it was.

Well, that perception changed one day a few months ago. I rolled out of bed early on Saturday, fed the baby and went to Wal-Mart for my weekly grocery trip (notice there is no mention of a shower, because I don't when I am going to Wal-Mart at 6:30 a.m.). I got to the store, filled my cart and headed to the one open check-out line. The shopper in front of me seemed to have a pretty full cart, too. I figured it'd be about five minutes. But it was taking longer than that. I had read every tabloid cover, gum package and candy bar, and she still wasn't done. I started paying attention and realized she was telling the cashier how much everything cost. SERIOUSLY? I got really ticked. Whatever the heck she was doing was taking up a lot of time. Was it even legal? Did she have a gun under her shirt? My ice cream is a puddle, THANKS.

When she finally finished and trolled away with her mile-long receipt, I walked up to the cashier, irked. The cashier began ringing up my items. I had a few cartons of strawberries on the belt. She picked one up and said, "That lady said these are 88 cents each at Basha's, so I'm going to give you the price match." I had no idea what that meant, but I was planning to pay $2 for those so I just smiled dumbly and thanked her. I bounced outta there with a little spring in my step. Eighty-eight cents for strawberries!

I went home and did a little research. Apparently, Wal-Mart matches competitors' prices. Did you know that? I didn't. They don't really advertise it. But it's pretty much awesome and I save a boatload by doing it.

This is my method:

On Wednesday, when I get my local grocery ads in the mail, I sit down and make a list of all the best deals from each store. Usually, a lot of them are produce, which is awesome -- you can never eat enough fruits and veggies. I always look for cereal and bread deals too, since those are pretty pricey.

(No, I don't still have bread in my freezer from my newlywed days, thankyouverymuch.)

I also clip coupons for things I need.

I make my grocery list and dinner menu based on all the deals.

I take my list to Wal-Mart and separate my cart into two halves: Price-matched and regularly-priced items.

When I get to the check-out lane, I put the price-matched items on the belt first and tell the cashier I want to price match. Then, I take out my list and start quoting the prices. Sometimes, they are a little strict and want to know what store the price is from. Since I've categorized them that way on my list, I can always tell them. They have their own ads at the cash register so they can check if they don't believe me.

Now, what do I pay for groceries? Well, last week, I paid $45.72.

Oh, yeeeeah.

And that's how Mom the Intern became a Super Shopper.


  1. I am the WORST when it comes to shopping. Been married for 10 yrs, my oldest kid is 7, and I still buy a bag of apples that'll rot before they're all eaten. Sad, but true.

    This method sounds a teeny bit more doable than a coupon crazy fest that some people live by.

    I might just give it a try!

  2. Wow! Great for you. I was on the coupon band wagon for awhile but realized I was bringing stuff into my home I did not want my kids to eat.
    But I love the idea of price match! Thanks!

  3. Pretty sure I love to price match at Walmart! Target said they did the same thing so I went on my merry way to shop, spent 1 hour SUPER pregnant (two weeks from my due date) with two screaming children, went to check out, and they told me I had to pay the regular price at the register and take the receipt to customer service... waited in line again only to be told that they don't price match on produce!! Which was all I price matched cause its all we eat. To say I was mad was an understatement. I had like 15 different produce transactions and it took forever to RETURN- again, super pregnant and I had just spent forever going around the store with my kids. I broke down crying right at the customer service counter. So BEWARE Target DOES NOT do the same thing as Walmart!

  4. But how is Walmart's produce? Every Walmart I've been to has awful produce, though the Bashas' near me wasn't too bad. Then again, I'm a fruit snob seeing as it's kind of the family business.

  5. Awesome deal Jenna! I've never done price matching at Wal Mart but I was aware that they did it. I prefer to just pick the "best" store of the week and hit the store with my coupons. Sometimes I go to more than one store. I usually average about $40 a week -but you're right, diapers and formula can really throw a budget.

  6. You are kidding, WalMart price matches? Is that everything in the store? Wowza! How long does it take you to price match? I mean, it's worth your time, but I'm just wondering how long I can plan on it taking me.

    So here's my deal...I like organic and local and WalMart doesn't do that for me very well. But I do like to shop there for things like paper towel, cereal, pasta sauce, you get the idea. I know that they are about 20% cheaper than the other two big box stores. (We don't have Basha's in the Northwest). With this matching deal, I'm going to have to consider making WalMart a priority. THANKS for the news! ~ Katrina in OR

  7. Im just nodding my head in agreement. Yup, its what i do every week. But it wasn't always this way. I too came to when saving more money became necessity than luxury. I have to admit tho, it is a LOVE/HATE relationship. I love the savings...Hate all the time, effort, managing meals,and then the fact im now "one of those ppl who hold up everybody else". I do try my best to shop at those less-busy hours but i still feel so bad for the person behind me. Because I too, remember those awful feelings of hatred while i waited for them to hurry the heck up! Its all to fresh in my mind for me. Do you feel the same way? How do you justify? what kind of things do you say to yrself to make you feel better? I may just have to deal with this issue forever. Because being a ppl pleaser has alot of downfalls. ps. from a learning mom to learning mom..i have a great produce place u NEED to take a look at. chat back on my blog!:o)

  8. I LOVE ad-matching at Wal-mart! It's the only store I go to, so it's always the fastest for me. I know exactly where to find everything. If I try to actually go to the Fry's or Bashas in town it takes me 3 times as long to shop. At Wal-mart, ad-matching, I get all the deals, but only have to make one trip! I'm sorry you didn't know about it before!! Enjoy!

  9. I have been price matching at Walmart for 3 years. I love it! I do feel bad when people get in line behind me, it does take way longer. I to have a love/hate relationship with Walmart but its worth it for all the money I save. You open my cabinet and its peppered with white "Great Value" labels!

  10. i still don't really know how to grocery shop. but i'm learning. sprouts is my favorite place.

    i've been behind the price-matcher at walmart before and it makes me really frustrated :) haha.

  11. Yes and since you live in AZ you really should go to Bashas and Frys fir things you have coupons for as they double coupons. I miss my Arizona coupon days


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