See the details of my $200 a month grocery shopping trips and learn the things that I do to save and live well on a low budget with my family of five!
There are affiliate links in this post – please read my full disclosure policy.
Some of you have wondered where I get my printable coupons. Here are the main coupon sites that I use:
Coupons.com, Smart Source, Red Plum and Ibotta. Manufacturer websites and Facebook pages are another great source.
If you are new here and unfamiliar with my weekly What I Spent & Saved posts, it probably is helpful 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.
I also buy 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. In fact, every 7 to 10 days I go to our local farmer’s market and get several heads of lettuce so that we can enjoy salads at least 4 times a week.
I hope that helps you make sense of some of this. I realize at first glance it can look like we eat rather strangely but I think we really eat quite well! Of course, if you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments! I’ll be more than happy to try to answer them.
Total Spent: $82.07
Total Saved with Coupons: $43.09
Total Saved with Sales: $52.44
Total Saved: $95.53
Saved with Coupons: $14.46
Saved with Sales: $6.49
The week of Thanksgiving is fun because CVS always has a bunch of freebie offers. They typically have a set of offers at the beginning of the week and then another set at the end for Black Friday. This year, I was only able to get the first set of offers because we had other things going the end of the week and I simply didn’t have time to make another trip. But I still was quite happy with the things I was able to get. Basically, everything that I purchased was free after coupons and sales, and the Green Giant corn was actually a moneymaker of $0.50.
- 2 CVS Pantiliners $0.99 each
- Extra gum $0.99
- 2 Green Giant corn $0.99 each
– used $0.50/2 Green Giant printable coupon
- Colgate toothpaste $3.00
– used $0.50 Colgate printable coupon
– used $2.50 Colgate CVS printable coupon
- 6 Hallmark greeting cards $0.99 each
– used two $3.00 Hallmark CVS printable coupons
- Kit-kat $1.00
– got back $1.00 via Saving Star
- M&M’s $0.79
- CVS wipes $0.99
- Stride gum $0.99
- Luden cough drops $1.00
OTHER COUPONS USED:
- $6.98 in Extra Bucks earned by purchasing items previously at CVS
- Two $0.99 Extra Bucks for purchasing the CVS pantiliners (can be used on the future purchase of any item at CVS)
- $0.99 Extra Bucks for purchasing the Extra (can be used on the future purchase of any item at CVS)
- Two $0.99 Extra Bucks for purchasing the Green Giant (can be used on the future purchase of any item at CVS)
- $0.79 Extra Bucks for purchasing the M&M’s (can be used on the future purchase of any item at CVS)
- $0.99 Extra Bucks for purchasing the CVS wipes (can be used on the future purchase of any item at CVS)
- $0.99 Extra Bucks for purchasing the Stride (can be used on the future purchase of any item at CVS)
- $1.00 Extra Bucks for purchasing the Luden’s (can be used on the future purchase of any item at CVS)
Rite Aid: $0
Saved with Sales: $16.58
I was able to get the toothbrushes for free thanks to a previous sale that I had a rain check for. And thanks to Plenti Points that I had earned previously, I didn’t need to pay a thing for this purchase, because I was able to use them to cover the cost.
- 2 Oral B battery-powered toothbrushes $0.00 each (bought with rain check)
– the rain check was for a sale that made the toothbrushes free after Plenti Points, so the cashier just rang them up as free. The savings was $8.29 each
- milk $3.52
OTHER COUPONS USED:
- $2.00 in Plenti Points earned by purchasing items previously at Rite Aid
Saved with Coupons: $28.63
Saved with Sales: $29.37
Giant does a free turkey promotion every year. Basically, you purchase select items and earn points, then you can redeem those points for a turkey. (It’s like the gas rewards, but instead of redeeming the points for gas, you can opt to redeem them for a turkey.) You are only supposed to redeem points for one free turkey per household, but I ended up actually getting two. One night my husband ran to Giant for me to get something that I needed for a recipe and redeemed the points and printed the voucher for the free turkey. Somehow I missed him telling me that he had done that and later in the week, I redeemed points for a free turkey as well! I wasn’t sure what to do, so I asked at customer service and they said to just go ahead and get two turkeys. I felt kind of bad, but at the same time, I definitely didn’t mind having the extra meat!
The Domino brown sugar was part of the gas reward deals this week. After gas reward savings, I paid $0.32 a bag. At Aldi, I typically pay $1.19 a bag, so I saved $0.87 on each bag that I bought. On 24 bags, that is a savings of $20.88! I know that is a lot of brown sugar, but since it is something that I use regularly and since it was such significant savings, I decided it was worth it. We have some nails on the ceiling beams in our basement that work perfectly for hanging bags full of sugar etc. on. It doesn’t take up much space, and works great!
The bananas were free after rebates. I love getting free fruit!
- 2 Giant brand frozen turkeys 35.10 lb. total
– redeemed two vouchers for free turkeys- earned previously by purchasing specific items at Giant ($27.73 total)
- 24 Domino brown sugar $1.99 each
- Bananas $0.45
– got back $0.25 via Ibotta
– got back $0.20 via Checkout 51
- $40.00 in gas reward savings for purchasing the Domino’s
Sharp Shopper: $23.06
This local discount grocery store is always fun, because you never know what deals you’ll find. My favorite buy this week was the Coleman lunch meat. Whenever possible I try to avoid buying meat that has nitrates, hormones or antibiotics in it. This Coleman’s lunch meat is free of all of that! I typically don’t like to pay more than $2.oo/lb. for meat, but when I know it’s good meat like this, I’m willing to spend the extra money! I ended up paying $2.64/lb. for this meat, which is still a decent price.
The Ball Park hot dogs were another purchase that I was excited about. They also are nitrate-free, which I appreciate. It’s always nice to have quick meals like this on hand for busy days.
The other items were all things that I simply needed right now. I like using the metal pans for freezer meals and also for when I make meals to give to other people. It’s always nice when you don’t have to bother returning the dishes, you know? 🙂
- 3 lb. onions $0.89
- garlic salt $0.89
- 9 Coleman ham lunch meat 6 oz. (antibiotic, hormone and nitrate-free) $0.99 each
- sweet potatoes $0.87 ($0.49/lb)
- 2 Ball Park nitrate-free hot dogs $1.49 each
- real vanilla $3.49
- paper plates $3.49
- 2 metal pans $0..50 each
- 2 lids for metal pans $0.13 each
I cashed out my Saving Star earnings. Since I earn the money by purchasing groceries, I always just roll it back into my grocery budget.
I earned this through the Fetch Rewards app.
NOVEMBER MONTHLY BUDGET SUMMARY
I was kind of bummed to come in just slightly over budget for the month. I had hoped to be under budget so that I could finally get ahead for the year. But obviously, I didn’t track myself quite well enough. 🙂 I’m confident that I can come in under budget for the year though. It might take a bit of doing, but really, If I’m mindful, I don’t think it will be that hard. I have plenty of food on hand- both in my freezer and in my cupboards. So the only thing that might make it hard is if there is a super good sale on something that I want to really stock up on. But the challenge is going to be good for me!
WEEK 1: $38.71
WEEK 2: $114.13
WEEK 3: -$32.96 (negative thanks to gas rewards)
WEEK 4: $82.07
Total Spent for the Month: $201.95
Total Saved with Coupons for the Month: $87.98
Total Saved with Sales for the Month: $98.31
Total Saved for the Month: $186.29 + $57.48 in gas reward savings
Over budget for the month by $1.95
Over budget for the year by $17.61
Just wanted to stop by and wave my pom poms for you because I know you will come in under budget for the year. Let’s go Lydia, let’s go! (clap clap)
We can also give thanks for the free turkey deals. Our grocery store does it too, if you spend a certain amount for a set period of time before Thanksgiving. I’ve heard it’s pretty rare that stores do this in other areas of the country. PA/NJ must have a lot of turkeys. 😉
Thanks for the pom pom waves and vote of confidence, Monica! It’s definitely been a little easier than I expected so far simply because the deals have been so slim. I’m not very tempted to shop when I know I have to pay a lot for anything I buy. 🙂
And yes, I definitely am grateful for the free turkey deal. I didn’t realize that it was such an unusual thing- and that makes me even more grateful! Thank goodness we live in Pa and NJ, right? 🙂 Hope you had a good Thanksgiving!
When you redeem your saving star account, do you redeem it straight to your account? or get it in gift card form? I don’t really use any of the gift cards they offer, but I am a little nervous about connecting it to my bank account. just curious what you do with yours?
Great question, Emily! I actually always choose the Paypal deposit. I don’t need the gift cards either and I feel like Paypal is a safe way for me to then transfer the money to my bank account. Hope that helps!
Kristen @ Joyfully Thriving
Great deal on the brown sugar! I’m excited to see that Domino sugar (4 lb bags) is on sale for only $0.99 at our Kroger this week. I’m going to track down all the coupons I can and stock up on sugar, too! For the first time in many years, I didn’t go to CVS for all their Black Friday deals. We had a busy week and I just didn’t make it there. Oh well. I’m glad you were able to take advantage of all the free deals!
Yes, it was a good price. There was actually a printable coupon for it, but for some reason I couldn’t get it to print…so annoying. But I figured I was still getting a good deal! Funny thing is, I just finished up the Domino brown sugar that I stocked up on last December, so the timing was perfect! And that is an awesome price on regular sugar. Wow! And I get the skipping the CVS Black Friday deals. I was happy to get the first set of deals and although it would have been fun to get the actual Black Friday ones, it just didn’t feel worth the hassle of running out when we already had so much going!
We did not do a traditional Thanksgiving this year which meant that I was able to get out of the house on Thursday and hit the drugstores for all the killer freebies and high dollar rebates! I snagged over $30.00 in rebates bucks between Rite Aid, CVS , and Walgreens! Many of the items will be used as donations for our Adopt a Family program at school! Fun Nail polish kits, personal care items and cleaning products!
Wow, that is amazing, Jessica! And I love that you are going to be helping a family in need. That is one of the fun things that I’ve loved about couponing. It’s allowed me to share with others so often without needing to spend much at all! So fun!