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!
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?
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 buy 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.
- better than free Hanover frozen veggies
- better than free Lender’s bagels
- free Irish Spring body wash
- free Herbal Essences body wash
- Cracker Barrel cheese for $0.88
- free banana
- Scott toilet paper for $2.99
- 3 lb. mandarin oranges for $2.38
Total Spent: $33.66
Total Saved with Coupons: $28.00
Total Saved with Sales: $52.92
Total Saved: $80.92
Saved with Coupons: $24.00
Saved with Sales: $40.28
Wow, remember how last week my shopping trips just rather flopped? Well, this week definitely made up for it! I had so much fun!
Let me see if I can give you a bit of a breakdown without it getting too confusing. I did a bunch of gas deals. The Turkey Hill ice cream ended up being $0.79 each after coupons/sales. We love this ice cream! It’s made with real ingredients and tastes so much better than most ice cream. They also recently added a bunch of new flavors to the all-natural line, and I was excited to get a few to try out. On a side note, have you noticed that most ice cream boxes now say frozen dairy dessert instead of ice cream? That’s because they legally don’t have enough milk fat in them to be called ice cream. I promise I’m not making that up! Google it for yourself. 🙂
The Dole Smoothie Shakers were a $4.00 moneymaker after coupons/sales. They are not something I typically buy, but since they were a moneymaker, I decided to get them. I got them once before with a similar deal and while they are okay, we didn’t think they were amazing. The Lender’s bagels were a moneymaker of $7.50! Crazy, right? I know I got a lot, but they actually aren’t all just for us. My husband’s family is getting together at a cabin in a couple of months and we already planned out our meals so we can start looking for deals on meat etc. to save money on our food costs. So I bought a bunch of these bagels to use for breakfast there. We’ll definitely be keeping a few though too and will use them to make homemade breakfast sandwiches. We love them!
The Hanover veggies were probably my favorite buy of the week! They were a moneymaker of $5.45 after coupons and sales. You can’t beat saving on super healthy food like veggies, that’s for sure! So often people say, I don’t use coupons because they are never for healthy things, and admittedly, they often aren’t. But sometimes they are too. 🙂 Or they are for things like the toilet paper that I got for super cheap. And who doesn’t use toilet paper? I was able to get it for just $2.99 a pack! I haven’t seen a deal like that in years and since I was down to just one pack, I was pretty happy that this deal appeared when it did. I actually didn’t keep all 5 packs- my mom-in-law bought 2 of them from me. For me, part of the fun of couponing is being able to share my deals with our family too! (In case you are wondering, I had to buy 5 packs to get that price.)
(If you aren’t familiar with how the gas deals work, basically you earn so much off a gallon of gas when you purchase a certain number of specific items. This time I earned $80.00 worth of free gas for purchasing the various items.)
The Cracker Barrel cheese ended up being $0.88 when I combined a manufacturer coupon with a Giant store coupon. Did you know you can do that? Most stores will let you use both together which helps maximize your savings. The banana was free and the mandarin oranges were $2.38 after combining a manufacturer, store and Snap app coupon. Again, notice how couponing can save on healthy stuff!
The teas and oyster sauce were just things that we needed. My hubby loves drinking hot tea but we were down to basically just one flavor, so I got more for him. And I got the oyster sauce to use in a Fried Rice recipe that I tried. I thought it was kind of pricey and I’m still not sure that it added enough extra flavor to be worth it. I want to try playing around with the recipe a bit to figure out if it can be good without it, or if the oyster sauce truly is what makes it so yummy.
- 5 Turkey Hill all-natural ice cream $3.79 each
– used two $1.00 Turkey Hill coupons received via manufacturer
– used two $0.50 Turkey Hill coupons received via manufacturer (doubled to $1.00 each)
– used $0.75 Turkey Hill coupon received via manufacturer (doubled to $1.00)
- 6 Dole Smoothie Shakers $2.00 each
– used two $0.50 Dole Smoothie Shakers printable coupons (doubled to $1.00 each)
– got back $4.00 via Saving Star for purchasing $12.00 worth of Dole products
- 15 Hanover petite peas $1.67 each
– got back $0.50 via Ibotta (was a generic offer that could be used on any frozen veggies)
- 14 Lender bagels $1.50
- oyster sauce $3.29
- Cracker Barrel cheese $3.00
– used $1.12 in-ad coupon (had to buy $25 worth of groceries)
– used 1.00 Cracker Barrel printable coupon
- Bigelow tea $2.74
- Twinings tea $2.99
- 5 Scott tissue $5.99 each
– used four $0.55 printable Scott coupons (doubled to $1.00 each)
– used $1.00 Scott coupon from Sunday newspaper coupon inserts
– saved $5.00 instantly for purchasing $25.00 worth of Scott products
– received $5.00 Catalina coupon good on any future purchase (prints at register)
- banana $0.25
– got back $0.25 via Checkout 51
- 3 lb. Halo Mandarin oranges $5.99
– used $2.11 in-ad coupon (had to buy $25 worth of groceries)
– used $0.50 Halo printable coupon (doubled to $1.00)
OTHER COUPONS USED:
- $5.00 catalina coupon that printed when buying the Scott
– I did two transactions and bought the Scott in the first transaction. This allowed me to use the $5 catalina coupon right away on my next transaction.
- $10.00 in gas reward savings for purchasing the Turkey Hill ice cream
- $10.00 in gas reward savings for purchasing the Dole Smoothie Shakers
- $30.00 in gas reward savings for purchasing the Hanover veggies
- $30.00 in gas reward savings for purchasing the Lenders bagels
Rite Aid: $0 (paid cash)
Saved with Coupons: $4.00
Saved with Sales: $12.64
I had some grocery cash that I used to pay for this purchase since it was just $2.00.
The Irish Spring body wash ended up essentially being free since I got a $2.00 UPReward to use on my next Rite Aid purchase. The key is to use that UPReward on another deal to kind of roll the savings. Of course the catch is, some weeks there aren’t any really amazing deals worth doing, so in some ways, it’s a tiny bit of a gamble. 🙂 But I was willing to chance it since we can always use body wash. Plus, there are always things like tape or tissues that I can use the UPRewards on if there are really no deals that seem worth it!
The body wash was from a deal that Rite Aid had a couple of months ago. It was kind of crazy because it ended up being totally free with the sale price and the UPReward that you received. Obviously, people went crazy over it and they sold out which is why I had to get a rain check. I kept checking different times when I was there, but they never had 4 in stock until this week. So I happily took them and will enjoy showering for free. Well, technically, not quite free since we have to pay to heat the water and for the water itself. But at least cheaper!
- 2 Irish Spring body wash $3.00 each
– used two $2.00 Irish Spring printable coupons
- 4 Herbal Essences body wash $0
– bought with rain check…they were on sale and free after UPRewards at the time, so they just adjusted the price down to $0 for me now
- $2.00 UPReward coupon for purchasing the Irish Spring (can be used on next purchase of any item)
I bought some lettuce from our local farmer’s market again. Those of you that are regular readers know that I love this lettuce! It’s grown locally and while they don’t market it as organic, it pretty much is since they don’t use anything on it. As a result it’s often a little buggy, but still beautiful and the texture and taste is better than any other lettuce I’ve had. I think every time I make salad for someone and use this lettuce, they comment on how good it is. And the price is super reasonable too. This week I got 4 medium sized heads for $5.00. Really, I don’t think you can beat that!
The last couple of weeks I’ve been buying various items that are part of the Giant gas deals. Basically, you get points for purchasing the products and then you can redeem those points for gas. I was able to get $63.98 worth of gas for free as a result. And since I only buy the grocery items that are part of these deals because they either get me free gas or make me money, I put the savings back into my grocery budget. (To see the details of these purchases look at my previous Giant purchases under my What I Spent & What I Saved posts.)
Wow! Impressive. Which farmer’s market? I had left a comment on the previous post and you were so kind to reply, but my phone won’t let me reply there for some reason. I use the CVS in New Holland–after they swap the sale tags for the next week, you can scoop up both the current and the coming week’s deals (but not the ones needing coupons that print from the care center machine). Does CVS issue rainchecks? I’ve often found them out of a particular item when there is a rock-bottom deal.
Amelia’s became Grocery Outlet two years ago; maybe that impacted produce prices? I have found the prices pretty good for the items I eat, but I’m sure some of the Aldi’s produce is cheaper. I don’t mind expired items, and have scooped up terrific discounts at Amelia’s that way, especially for items that I can use coupons on, and on frozen deli meats.
I am inspired by your blog. Can you tell me approximately how long it took you to build your stockpile so that $200/month is possible? Also, do you include household and personal products in this budget? Thanks for your help!
Lauren, I’m so sorry for the slow response to your comment. I think I had actually replied soon after you asked it, but then I was having some issues with my blog and lost a bunch of things including some of my comments. But just in case I don’t remember correctly and truly never did reply, I wanted to do that now. 🙂
Yes, our grocery budget includes household things like toilet paper, cleaning supplies and dish soap as well as personal products like body wash, shampoo, razors and even baby diapers. It’s a little hard for me to know how long it took me to build my stockpile to the point that I was able to do $200/mo. I do know that initially we weren’t able to eat nearly as well and did without a lot of things, even things that are now the norm to us. I would guess though that it took maybe roughly a year until I was to that point, but I honestly am not 100% sure. I do know that when I started couponing/building a stockpile it was about 6 years ago- back when the deals were a lot more frequent. It was much easier to get things for free or very nearly so and that definitely made it a lot easier!
I do know though that just by stockpiling a little at a time, you’ll soon notice a big difference. You might enjoy this post that one of my readers did for me when I was blogging at Parents.com. She shares her experience with getting started stockpiling and how the savings sort of snowballed.
That was a great price on The Turkey Hill All Natural Ice Cream. It never seems to go on sale, and it is truly delicious.
I heard a rumor today that Rite Aid is ending the UP rewards soon and rolling out a new program. I guess we;ll see what that’s all about in another month or so.
Also, anyone who follows your blog long term can see that you definitely eat healthy, with a few splurges just like anyone else.
Yes, Monica, you know me and ice cream have this thing. 😉 Especially that all-natural ice cream. I’m really hoping for a super awesome deal again (think free) this summer, but since they raised the price on it since last summer, I’m probably wasting my time hoping.
Yes, I heard that rumor about Rite Aid too. I’m super curious what it’s going to be. I’m a little leery though!
And thanks for your affirmation about our eating habits. Sometimes it feels a bit vulnerable to put all of this out there, but I know that it really helps people to see it all too. And really, overall people have been mostly kind and gracious about it. I think it’s most confusing to someone who just happens across my blog and stumbles onto these posts. And I can see why, especially some weeks when I buy almost nothing! 🙂
Oh, I don’t know. If I stumbled across your blog I wouldn’t think you were eating junk, I would just think you were crazy with your two heads of lettuce and 45 sour creams or something. 😛
LOl Monica!! Yeah, good point. And sometimes I even think maybe I’m kind of crazy when I look at what all I bought some weeks.
Hi! I really enjoy your blog and can hardly wait till the next posts come out! I am very new new to this couponing
idea, anyway I tried to check out coupon network which you have recomended and it says its no longer available.
Just wondering if you are aware of this, or was it only a problem with my computer?
Aw, so sweet of you Joanne! And yes, you are right about the Coupon Network link not working. Oops! Sorry about that! I think they stopped doing coupons last fall sometime and I thought I had removed them from that list but obviously I hadn’t. Thank you so much for letting me know! I truly appreciate it and am going to remove it now.
Hi Lydia. I didn’t see those Hanover veggies in the ad or the matchups on FTM. Was it an unadvertised special?? Sad to have missed it…. ~Michelle
Michelle, oh, that’s too bad you missed it! 🙁 Now that you mention it, I kind of think that maybe FTM didn’t have it marked clearly in the weekly deal post, but they had done a preview deal post that highlighted it the week before and I remembered that when I did my shopping list. I’ve been a bit disappointed with FTM the last while. They just aren’t as on top of coupon match-ups as they used to be. But I haven’t found a site I like better, especially for Giant, so I’ve stuck with them. I know that it is a LOT of work to do the match-ups too, so I want to be gracious with them.