Curious what it looks like to shop on a tight grocery budget? I’ll show you the details of my $225 a month grocery shopping trips and teach what I do to save money and live well on a low grocery budget with my family of six!
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Some of you have wondered where I get my printable coupons. Here are the main coupon sites that I use: Coupons.com, Smart Source, Ibotta, Fetch Rewards and Checkout 51. Manufacturer websites and Facebook pages are another great source.
I recently sent out a survey to my email subscribers (you can take the survey here) asking them for input on how I can make Thrifty Frugal Mom more helpful and useful. The responses I got were super insightful and helpful and one of the things that several people mentioned was that they really wish that I would bring back my weekly What I Spent & Saved posts.
I used to do these posts regularly but stopped for a variety of reasons. For one thing, they are a bit time consuming to compile and don’t have long term affect as most of my blog posts do. Plus, I also felt like they probably weren’t super helpful because only a small percentage of you are able to shop at the grocery store chains that I shop. But several of the survey takers that said they miss them also mentioned that they benefited from them not because they could necessarily replicate the deals but because it gave them ideas and inspiration for saving on their own grocery bill.
All that to say, I decided that the people have spoken and I want to listen! 🙂 So, I’m going to try to bring these What I Spent & Saved posts back at least somewhat regularly. I don’t think it will be every week, but maybe at least once or twice a month. And if there’s something that I can do to make these posts (or any of my posts for that matter!) more helpful for you, please leave me a comment and let me know!
Before I dive into the actual details of this week’s shopping trip, I feel like there a few things that I should clarify about how I shop just so this post makes more sense.
A FEW DETAILS ABOUT USING COUPONS and HOW I SHOP:
* It pretty important to understand a bit about how I shop. I do something called stockpile shopping. This simply means that when I see an item at rock bottom prices that I regularly use or know that I can use, I’ll buy several of it. This might seem kind of crazy, but it honestly saves me hundreds of dollars a year! Simply put, by buying 6 bags of frozen veggies when I can get them for $0.50/bag with a coupon and sale instead of paying the full price of $1.50, I save $6.00. This savings adds up pretty quickly! Want to know more about this kind of shopping? Check out my post on How to Start Building a Grocery Stockpile.
This is also why just by looking at the things I purchase here it might look a little strange and hard to imagine how I actually create decent, balanced meals. But remember, I have a small stockpile of lots of pantry, freezer and even fridge items that I purchased previously when they were a great price and I’m pulling from them to create our menus too!
* I also buy a lot of meats and veggies in bulk. The meat I either can or freeze and then obviously have it on hand whenever I need it. I purchase large quantities of fruits and veggies when they are in season and I can get them at really great prices. By canning or freezing them, I save a lot and we are able to enjoy great produce for less cost all year long. I do still buy some fresh fruits and veggies too.
* I live in an area where most grocery stores fully double all coupons up to $1.00. So anything $.99 or above will double, which is why the $0.75 coupons you see below note that they doubled to $1.50. This definitely helps me get better deals, although I have to say that even before we moved Philadelphia and I shopped at stores that didn’t fully double, I still often got very similar deals. So getting great deals still is possible even without fully doubled coupons!
* The Load to Card coupons that you see mentioned below can be found on the grocery store’s website when you create an account with your store card. I think most major grocery stores have this option any more and it’s a great way to save a little extra. I typically just go into my account and clip all the coupons, that way if I happen to buy something that I hadn’t planned on buying and it had a Load to Card coupon available, I’ll get the savings. And that has happened quite a few times!
* The best way to maximize your savings is to combine sales with coupons and to combine multiple coupons on the same product. But I want to be clear- you can only use one manufacturer coupon per item. In other words, say you have two printable coupons for Butterball ground turkey, you can only use one. (You can easily tell if it’s a manufacturer’s coupon by looking at the top of the coupon for that wording. Almost all coupons are manufacturer coupons.)
To get the most savings, you can also combine a manufacturer coupon with a store coupon and/or coupon app offers from places like Ibotta, Fetch Rewards and Checkout 51 when available.
* Under no circumstances is it legal to photocopy a coupon. For printable coupons, most manufacturer’s let you print two coupons per computer and then your limit will be capped.
* Coupon availability changes all the time, so the links that I share below will soon be out of date and not take you to the exact coupon that I linked too. I’m sorry about that, but it’s just how coupons work!
Now that we got those details covered, let’s get down to the specifics of this week’s shopping!
First of all, I do plan to make a trip to Aldi yet sometime this week to grab a few things. I plan to get whatever fresh fruit they have on sale, onions, carrots, spring mix as well as brown sugar, cream cheese, heavy whipping cream, tissues and frozen peas and green beans.
Also, I realize that all the numbers below can get kind of confusing. I try to break it down in a way that is easy to understand, but I know that it’s still kind of hard to follow sometimes. So if you have questions, please feel free to ask in the comments!
Basically, though, I got ALL the groceries that you see below for just $19.17 total, after all coupons and savings! That’s over $100 worth of groceries for less than $20! You all, this is why I feel like it’s worth my time to use coupons. No, not all weeks are this amazing, but many are. And there is no other way that we’d be able to eat as well as what we do and keep our grocery budget this low.
Update: Initially I had said that I had spent $20.17 total, but then I got an email this morning from SavingStar saying they credited my account $1 for purchasing the Epic bars at ShopRite! So I adjusted things to reflect that. The thing is, I hadn’t even remembered that SavingStar had an offer for the Epic bars. And most times, SavingStar won’t credit offers that you also used a store Load to Card offer for. But occasionally they do and when they do, I always just view it as a happy surprise. But that it also why I always activate all offers in Saving Star and on the grocery store Load to Card offers. You just never know when you’ll end up buying a product!
RELATED: WHY YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE A $200/MO. GROCERY BUDGET EVEN THOUGH WE DO
Budget Grocery Shopping Trip
Total Spent: $36.19
Total Saved with Coupons: $45.75
Total Saved with Sales: $38.73
Total Saved: $84.48 + an additional $10.00 in gas savings
Saved with Coupons: $8.75
Saved with Sales: $17.80 + an additional $10.00 in gas savings
These Giant deals will be good through 1/10/19, so if you shop before that, you should be able to these same deals yourself.
I got the Pepperidge Farm bread for $.50 each after coupons and sales. I used to make all of my own homemade whole wheat bread, but lately I’ve been able to get decent whole wheat bread for so cheap with my couponing that I’ve been doing that a lot instead. I still prefer the homemade just because it’s obviously a bit healthier, but in this season of life, using the bought bread just feels like a shortcut worth taking!
The Cheetos were a total splurge item! I rarely buy snacks, other than the occasional potato chips, but since these Cheetos were just $0.50 after coupons and sales, I decided to get them. I’ve always had a weakness for Cheetos and I have to say, it was rather fun to eat a few today!
The Chi-chi’s tortillas ended up being $0.49 each after coupons and sales. We use these quite a bit for refried beans and cheese quesadillas as well as things like Salsa Ranch Chicken Wraps. The Kind bar was free after a Load to Card coupon. Giant typically has a Load to Card for a free item that is available to load to your card every Friday and last week’s offer was the Kind bar.
The Hershey’s bars are not something I typically buy, but they were actually a moneymaker of $0.37, so I decided to get them. I’ll probably end up using them as our dessert here and there. I’ve been wanting to try A2 milk since it’s been proven to be a more easily digestible milk. With the sales and coupons available, it was just $2.00 this week, which makes it about what I pay for regular milk here in Pennsylvania, so I figured there was no reason not to buy it! The Dairy Pure milk and bananas were just items that we needed.
- 2 Pepperidge Farm Wheat Bread $2.50 each
- 2 Pepperidge Farm Sourdough Bread $2.50 each
- Cheetos $2.50
- 8 Chi-chi’s Flour Tortillas $0.99 (were on sale buy one, get one free)
– used (4) $1/2 Chi-chi’s tortillas or salsa printable coupons
- Kind Bar $1.00
– used FREE Kind Bar Giant Load to Card digital coupon
- 2 Hershey Gold Bars $0.89 each
– used $0.75/2 Hershey’s Gold printable coupon (doubled to $1.50)
– used $0.65/2 Giant Load to Card digital coupon
- A2 Milk $3.50
– used $0.75 printable coupon (this coupon stated that it could not be doubled)
– submitted for $0.75 Ibotta A2 offer
- Dairy Pure Milk $4.29
- Bananas $0.49/lb
- $0.10 Ibotta any receipt offer
- 165 pts. (the equivalent of $0.17) via Fetch Rewards
- $10.00 in gas reward savings for purchasing the Pepperidge Farm and Cheetos products
Saved with Coupons: $32.00
Saved with Sales: $20.93
These ShopRite deals will be good through 1/12/19, so if you shop before that, you should be able to these same deals yourself.
ShopRite seriously have the best diaper deals around! This week I was able to get the Goodnights and Huggies wipes for just $2.33 each!! (I should clarify that I consider all three Huggies wipes one item, in this case, to keep the price per package easier to figure. So I paid $2.33 for all three wipes, and $2.33 for each pack of Goodnights.) That is crazy cheap! And I should have been able to get Huggies diapers for $3.33 using the same deal but they were unfortunately out of all the Huggies Snug and Dry diapers. The manager was super nice and wrote me a rain check that reflected the $5 catalina coupon savings even though that isn’t their typical protocol, so I hopefully can get the diapers next week.
The Arm and Hammer laundry detergent was a moneymaker of $0.69. I used to make my own laundry detergent but since moving to Philly I’ve consistently been able to get Arm and Hammer or Purex laundry detergent for free or better than free so use that instead. Now if only I could figure out how to get our city water for free, I’d be all set! 😉
The Epic beef bar is jerky made from grass fed beef. It’s not something I would typically purchase, but after coupons and sales I ended up actually making $1.00 on it, so it was kind of a no-brainer to get it. Plus, I knew it was something that my husband would enjoy too!
The Stayfree and Carefree pads were a moneymaker of $3.04. I actually grabbed the wrong items and none of what I purchased actually qualified for the Ibotta rebates as shown. But I plan to exchange them next week when I shop and should still be able to get the rebates then, so I went ahead and listed it here.
The oranges? They were just a really great deal. My buy price for fruit is usually around $1.00/lb. and this was clearly much less than that!
- 2 Goodnights $6.99 each
– used (2) $2.00 Goodnights printable coupons
– got back a $5.00 Catalina coupon for purchasing the Goodnights and Huggies (coupon that prints at register and can be used on any future purchase- I split my purchases into two transactions and used the $5 coupon to go toward my bill for the other items that I purchased)
- 3 Huggies Wipes $1.66 each (needed to buy three to get this price)
– used (3) $0.50 Huggies wipes printable coupon (doubled to $1.00 each)
- 3 Arm and Hammer Detergent $1.77 (needed to buy three to get this price)
– used (3) $1.00 Arm and Hammer printable coupon (from manufacturer’s website)
– used $3/3 Arm and Hammer ShopRite Load to Card digital coupon
- Epic Beef Bar $1.99
– used $1.00 Epic printable coupon
– used $1.00 Epic ShopRite Load to Card digital coupon
– used $1.00 Epic SavingStar offer (Saving Star is no longer operating)
- 2 Stayfree Pads $1.99 each
– used (2) $1.00 Stayfree printable coupon
– used $1.00 Stayfree ShopRite Load 2 Card digital coupon
– submitted for (2) $1.25 Ibotta Stayfree offers
- 2 Carefree Liners #1.99 each
– used (2) $1.00 Carefree printable coupon
– used $1.00 Carefree ShopRite Load 2 Card digital coupon
– submitted for (2) $1.25 Ibotta Carefree offers
- 8 lb. Oranges $3.99
So there you have it- a little peek into my weekly deal shopping trip! What was your favorite deal?
I am so happy to see someone actually say something nice about couponing. I buy everything at rock bottom prices using every saving way I can. Funny thing is, we aren’t saving anything. We have so little that if I didn’t shop this way I don’t know how we would eat. But, the pantry is stocked and we eat very well. I read recently that a woman saved 60 dollars by baking brownies at home instead of buying them in the bakery. I laughed so hard. I guess it is all about perception. I must save millions of dollars by not spending what we don’t even have. It is such a blessing to know how to provide for my family.
There are definitely lots of different ways to save and lots of different ideas of what being frugal and saving money looks like! And yes, so grateful and blessed by this way of shopping too. It’s been a true lifesaver for us!
I don’t think I took your survey but I, too, am glad this is back! 🙂
Thanks for letting me know, Amanda! Hearing from my readers and knowing what they like really is so helpful for me.
I, too, am delighted you are bringing this back. In central Maine, food is very expensive as we don’t have a wide range of grocery stores. Nevertheless, your tactics can be employed in any area, and money can be saved. Many thanks for taking the time to do this.
Yes, I hear Maine is pricier! But I love what you said about my tactics being usable in any area. So true! And I appreciate your feedback!
I’m soo delighted you brought this back! Even if only occasionally
I like that you mentioned you clip all the load to card coupons… I never thought of doing that and yes there’s times I wished I would’ve clipped a coupon but it was too late by then.
Thanks for the feedback, Jo! And yes, clipping all the load to card coupons has saved me money more than once. And it only takes a little bit to do them all anyway…and I often do that kind of thing when I’m on the phone etc. so it’s not really taking extra time.