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, Ibotta, and Fetch Rewards (use code GEOEG at sign-up for $2.00 in points!). Manufacturer websites and Facebook pages are also great sources.
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: $84.43
Total Saved with Coupons: $13.65
Total Saved with Sales: $10.68
Total Saved: $24.33
Saved with Coupons: $12.15
Saved with Sales: $10.68
If you are a regular reader of these posts, you know how much money I save by doing the Giant gas reward deals. Several weeks ago, we went to go get our free tank of gas at our local Giant to Go gas station only to discover that it has been shut down! I kind of panicked and quickly went online to see if there were any other locations nearby. I didn’t know of any, but I was desperately hoping that we’d find one. Unfortunately, the closest one was another 15 minutes away- about 20 min. away from our home. We didn’t have time to run there, so feeling rather defeated, we ended up filling up at another gas station, which meant we also needed to pay for the gas (instead of getting it free with our rewards).
Long story short, I talked with our local Giant and they apologized for the whole situation. They didn’t get much notice about the local gas station closing either and offered to extend the expiration date of my current points. I was feeling kind of discouraged though, because doing Giant’s gas reward deals has been a huge boost to our grocery budget the last couple of years! I knew I was spoiled by them, and I knew that they could easily do away with them at any time. But I never expected it to happen so quickly! And it really frustrated me Giant was still offering these gas reward deals, but we Lancaster shoppers really didn’t have a good way of redeeming the rewards any more. I kind of simmered about it for several days and finally resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to simply get more creative again in making our budget work. I knew I could do it, because I’ve done it in the past- it would just mean that I had to work harder. So the last couple of weeks I’ve been mulling over ways to tighten up our spending and things I could do to make our money go farther. I passed on buying some things that I often would have spent money one, simply because I knew we could do without it.
Then last week when I was at Giant I got talking to one of the young men that works at customer service. He was taking care of a rain check that I had and I mentioned the fact that I really miss being able to do the gas reward deals now that there isn’t a local Giant gas station. He looked at me funny and said, “Well, there’s still one on Centerville Rd and that’s only a couple of minutes from here.” What?! Turns out that there is a Giant gas station locally and somehow it doesn’t show up on Giant’s website store locator. And for some reason none of the other people that I talked to earlier mentioned it either. That little piece of information totally made my day though! It might seem like a little thing, and it kind of is. But it means that I will be able to stay within our $200 grocery budget without working nearly as hard! And that feels like such a big blessing to me.
Okay, enough about my gas reward issues. 🙂 Speaking of gas rewards though, I was able to get more Kid Fresh chicken nuggets for free this week thanks to them. Actually, after coupons I actually made $5.50 on them! I love having these on hand for quick, easy meals.
If you shop at a grocery store that has a rewards card, be sure to check to see if they have coupons that you can load to your card (you do this by logging into your account via their website). I’ve discovered that nearly all of the big chain stores do this and it’s a great way to save! For Giant and Weis, there are typically new offers to load pretty much every week. The great thing about these load-to-card offers is that you can combine them with other coupons for maximum savings. Take the Lucky Charms for instance. I was able to use load-to-card coupons, plus paper coupons, plus a Saving Star offer, and ended up getting both boxes for just $0.01! We don’t eat a lot of bought cereal, because honestly, it’s unhealthy and expensive. But I like to have it on hand for when we have guests, since I realize that not everyone enjoys homemade granola and Baked Oatmeal. And we also sometimes put a little bit on top of our kid’s homemade cereal for something fun- it’s one of those little things that they think is special and consider a treat.
A couple of months ago I bought some Giant brand tortillas when they were on sale and we discovered that we actually prefer them over the Aldi brand ones because they aren’t quite as stiff and tough. They are also typically a tad cheaper too. This week I noticed that they were on sale, plus I had a Giant load-to-card coupon to get $1.00 off a pack of Giant tortillas. It only took off $0.89, but that was okay, because I still got a pack for free. Not going to complain about that!
We love yogurt around here, but instead of buying it, I make homemade yogurt because it’s healthier and cheaper too! I usually can use a previous batch of homemade yogurt as my starter for the next batch, but over time, it kind of stops working as well. (The yogurt stops tasting as tart and often the consistency will change a bit too.) When that happens, I know it’s time to buy some yogurt to use as starter. I really like the Dannon plain yogurt, but really you can use any plain yogurt you want, as long as it contains “live and active culture”.
- 5 Kid Fresh chicken nuggets $2.50 each (bought with rain check)
– used 4 $1.50 Kid Fresh printable coupons
– used $1.00 Kid Fresh printable coupon
– used $1/3 Frozen Food purchase (Giant coupon that printed from in-store coupon machine)
- Dannon plain yogurt $0.59
- 5 Giant brand tortillas $0.89 each
– used $0.89 Giant tortilla load-to-card coupon
- 2 Lucky Charms $1.88 each
– used two $0.50 Lucky Charm printable coupons (doubled to $1.00 each)
– used $0.50/2 Lucky Charms Giant load-to-card coupon
– used $0.75/2 Lucky Charms Giant load-to-card coupon
– got back $0.50 via Saving Star
- $10.00 in gas reward savings for purchasing the Kid Fresh
We have a bunch of apples right now, so I didn’t really need more fresh fruit. But it’s not often that I find clementines for $0.99/lb! And our kids love them!
I stocked up on pumpkin too. I’ve learned to know the one manager at our one Aldi and he told me a couple of weeks ago that there is supposed to be a shortage of pumpkin this fall. He said they’ve had trouble getting it in when they order it and thought I’d like to know because he knows I like to bake and figured I’d want to stock up if I saw it when it was in stock.
I’m also slowly stocking up on coconut at Aldi too. I use it to make my homemade granola and it is quite a bit cheaper at Aldi than at the local bulk food store that I typically buy it at. The thing is, Aldi considers it a seasonal item and only stocks it during the fall and winter months. This year, I decided to slowly stock up while they have it in stock so that I will have a nice little supply to carry me through at least some of the spring and summer months.
- 3 lb. Mandarin oranges $2.99
- 5 lb. potatoes $1.49
- 2 coconut flakes $1.29 each
- potato chips $1.79
- cream cheese $0.99
- evaporated milk $0.79
- 5 pumpkin $0.89 each
- saltines $0.79
- minced onion $0.99
Sharp Shopper: $47.15
Wow, I kind of felt like I hit the jackpot this week at our local discount grocery store! If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen my post about the cheap mozzarella cheese that I found there. I seriously could hardly believe my eyes when I spotted 5 lb. bags for just $8.69 each! That comes to just $1.74/lb, people. I honestly can’t remember when I last got cheese that cheap and I’m almost annoyed at myself for not getting more. Because it freezes easily, and if you divide a big bag like this up into smaller portions, it makes it super handy too.
I was also pretty tickled with my cottage cheese find. I don’t use cottage cheese a lot, but I have several recipes that we love that use it and so when I find it cheap like this, it’s a great way to get them on the menu inexpensively.
The Kraft sour cream was a great price too, but I had just gotten a bunch of sour cream a couple of weeks ago for about that at Weis and so I didn’t really need more right now. As much as I love sour cream, you can only use so much of it!
The lunch meat was another fun find! It is antibiotic free and has no added hormones, which I love. I was wishing they had more of it- I got the last package that they had.
While we don’t really care for straight ground turkey, I’ve discovered that we don’t mind it if I mix it with ground beef. I was pretty happy to find this antibiotic free ground turkey for just $1.49/lb. I only got 2 packs because I wanted to give it a try before I bought more (assuming they have it in stock still next time I shop there). I’ve had a couple of experiences where I’ve bought ground turkey and it had a really off taste. So it’s made me a tiny bit leery. I cooked this stuff up when I got home though and it tasted really good! So I will definitely buy more if I can.
Oh and I’m sure some of you are wondering why I bought yogurt if I make my own. The thermometer that I use to check the temperature of the milk when I’m making yogurt broke and I didn’t get a chance to buy another one. We were totally out of yogurt and since we eat it every day for lunch, I decided to go ahead and buy some since it was so cheap.
- (3) 5 lb. mozzarella shredded cheese $8.69 each
- Yoplait yogurt $0.99
- 3 blocks Farmers cheese $2.39/lb. ($10.01 total)
- Kraft sour cream $0.79
- 5 lb. cottage cheese $1.99
- 7 oz. lunch meat $0.99
- (2) 1 lb. ground turkey $1.49
- (5) 1 lb. Domino brown sugar $0.50 each
- bacon $1.99
- 4 pack yogurt $0.33
- white vinegar $1.99
Saved with Coupons: $1.50
I bought the Yoplait Greek yogurt to use in a recipe that I’ll be sharing with you on Thursday. I created a mostly healthy, protein packed dip that I think you all will love!
The Cottonelle wipes were a $0.52 money maker after coupons and sales. They aren’t something I buy unless I can get them for free, but I have discovered that they work great for children that are learning to wipe themselves. 🙂
- 3 Yoplait Greek yogurt $1.00 each
– used $0.50/2 Yoplait printable coupons
- Cottonelle wipes $2.48
– used 1.00 Cottonelle printable coupon
– got back $2.00 via Ibotta
I don’t have a picture of this item because I bought it back in June. Somehow I mislaid the receipt and just came across it over the weekend when I was cleaning up my desk. Yikes!
Just wanted to say hi! I’m new to extreme couponing/stock-piling, but I’ve been following your blog for a while now and I get so excited to see what you buy each week. It’s given me a lot of good ideas (and some good recipes). I’m in VA, after being in DE for several years, both places that have a Giant, and I never knew about their gas deals, so I’m happy to see them on here. Thanks!!
So happy to hear that the weekly What I Spent and Saved posts have been inspiring to you, Shannon! Yay! And yes, if you can at all make the gas deals work for you, do them. I didn’t take advantage of them for at least the first year, maybe longer, after they started them because I thought it just looked too complicated and like they weren’t worth doing. But then a friend started telling me how she was regularly getting all these groceries for free with them and often making money too and it kind of convinced me to give them a try. Just be sure to get the full 25 gallons to save the most money. We have a small gas can that we sometimes need to use in order to do that, but it is so worth it, in my opinion!
Although I’m glad for your Lancaster readers, I really love reading about the deals that don’t include the gas rewards since we don’t have such a thing out here and likely never will. I would definitely take advantage of it if we did!
It’s true about the pumpkin shortage. When Aldi (finally) got in their canned pumpkin, I stocked up. It’s crazy but all of the canned pumpkin we buy comes from a very limited area of Illinois. One of our markets was advertising pie pumpkins and I thought about processing my own and freezing it, but they never got them in.
Oh, and I’m not sure if it will be anywhere near you, but congratulations on your new Wegmans out there. 🙂
Yes, Monica, I get that the gas rewards probably feel a bit discouraging to a lot of people since many folks don’t have that ability to do them. And isn’t it crazy that most of the canned pumpkin that we buy comes from a small area of Illinois? Surely there are lots of other areas that could grow it! One of those puzzling mysteries. 🙂 I’ve cooked up my own pumpkins in the past, but it always felt like a lot of work to me for a small amount of return. And once Aldi started carrying it for so cheap, I just opted to save myself the hassle.
Yes, I just read in the news about Wegman’s coming to town! It will be about 10 to 15 min. from here and not really in the direction I typically run, but definitely near enough to shop there if the deals are good! I’m excited! Just wish I didn’t have to wait a couple of years for them to get it built- not that I’m impatient or anything. 😉
Well if they wanted to build a Wegman’s near me, I’d be stopping by once a week and asking for updates from the random guy on the bulldozer. Not that I’m impatient either. 😉