Grocery pickup and delivery services are so convenient. After my son Logan was born in February of last year, the ability to “go grocery shopping” without having to take two kids into the grocery store with me helped us actually maintain our budget instead of living off pizza and McDonalds. Once we got into a new routine with baby Logan I wanted to start challenging myself to save more on groceries so we could stockpile more and pay down more of our debt. I came up with a pretty good system to make sure I was saving money on groceries and my family still ate well, and I wasn’t spending hours upon hours to save a few dollars. Can I get a woot woot?
1. Check the sales and make a meal plan
Not very romantic, I know, but it works. Making a meal plan around the loss leaders and the rock-bottom prices is crucial to saving money. If you want to add coupon savings into that, that’s great. I mainly use printable coupons these days because I don’t have to spend time organizing them like clipped coupons or coupon inserts from newspapers.
One other thing I do to save time is I use GrocerySmarts.com instead of keeping a price book. Their website goes through the major stores’ ads and uses a system of one to five stars or “extreme” to rate how good the price is on items in that week’s ads. That saves me a lot of time because I’m don’t have to think about the prices of items too much.
2. Take advantage of cash back, rebates and ecoupons.
I love using rebate programs like iBotta and Checkout 51. You can use them to save in addition to coupons, which and often times their promoted items will be the same loss leaders that you’ll find on sale with coupons in major stores. I usually bank my money to save for big purchases or trips, but I have been known to use the money I earn for extra grocery money during lean times, or for extra debt payments.
The other thing I have done for a long time is doing my shopping with my Paypal debit card. It pulls first from the money I have in Paypal, then from the money in my checking account. I make 1% on all purchases, which isn’t a lot, but it gives me a few dollars here and there without taking any more time than swiping another debit card.
The last things I use are e-coupons, which are ridiculously convenient and easy to use. I use two different companies for e-coupons, Kroger.com and Cellfire.com. Both of them are free and you just click, then they’re on your card once you’ve signed up. Easy peasy.
3. Receipt rewards
I use two apps to get rewards for my receipts, ReceiptPal and Receipt Hog. My favorite is ReceiptPal because you can send them receipts via email, so if I don’t do a lot of in-person shopping I can still get credit for the purchases I make on Amazon or other online stores. If I haven’t done a lot of paid shopping, I’ll go get a few free ebooks on Amazon so I can max out my points each week. I don’t have to do that very often because I have everything charged to my PayPal card so I can get the 1% cash back and then get a receipt sent to my email. I setup a rule so that email receipts from Paypal automatically forward to their email. A lot of times I get to the end of the week and only submit the paper receipts I have as an extra entry into their sweepstakes.
The receipt rewards hardly take me any time and aren’t huge, but they have helped us pay for things like moving expenses, date nights and other smaller splurges.
4. Use Clicklist after less expensive stores
When we lived in Kentucky, the closest Aldi was over an hour away, so shopping their to save on groceries wasn’t an option. When we moved to West Virginia at the end of last year, we had an Aldi less then half an hour away, so I started making my menu plans, shopping at Aldi first, then making a Clicklist order for any other items I couldn’t find at Aldi. The first week I went to Aldi first, I saved $40 out of our $150 grocery budget. I was very pleased and decided it was worth a little more time to add in another store. I still saved a lot of time by using Clicklist because Aldi rarely has everything I need.
Saving money on groceries doesn’t have to mean spending hours upon hours pouring over coupons, ads and menu plans. The entire routine I’ve laid out for you takes me less than an hour a week (excluding the actual shopping time). If you’re feeling overwhelmed and just want to start small, then add in ecoupons and use Clicklist to order the Extreme or four to five star sale items on GrocerySmarts.com.