Sunday, March 8, 2009

Grocery Hopping

How do I "grocery hop?" Let me count the stores....I visit Super Wal-Mart, Aldi's, Price Chopper, Hannaford, Target (ours is not a SuperTarget), Freihofer outlet, Walgreens and CVS. Those are the bargain shopping stores in my area (and some are usually not a bargain). One of the downers of the Great Northeast (besides a snowstorm every other week) is stores that double coupons are few and far between! Sales like those I've been reading about in the mid-Western states do not occur here very often. Thank goodness for the drugstore game because it is hard to save a lot on food. Luckily, we are able to save a lot on our household goods and health & beauty items by shopping at CVS and Walgreen's.
So, do I visit 7 stores every week? Are you kidding? Do you want me to have a nervous breakdown? LOL. Do I get every deal every week? No, I'm only one human mommy. So here's my strategy...first I check out the fliers and I shop my main grocery stores, Price Chopper or Hannaford for my meat. When it's cheap I stock up. For example, ground beef has not been on sale in either store for over a month. This week PC has a sale for 80% lean for $1.99/lb. That's actually a deal in our area! So I've been holding out for the last month, haven't had any ground beef in almost a month and will stock up this week. I make a note of other loss leaders at this store before I go and pick up those items and try to stay away from impulse items.
Then I hop on over to Wal-Mart or Aldi's to pick up my staples - flour, sugar, Sunny D for my kids (they don't really like the Aldi brand so they're actually kind of weaning off of the large doses they normally drink), lunch meat, rice, pasta sides, milk, eggs, frozen waffles, frozen veggies, etc. If I'm shopping at Wal-Mart this is where I use the most coupons for food items. In our area, a brand name at Wal-Mart with a good coupon is usually cheaper than a no-name brand at Aldi's.
Of course I go to CVS and Walgreen's for the majority of cleaning products,paper products, pull-ups, and health & beauty items + they also usually have a couple of good food items (like name brand cereal) that ends up being much cheaper using coupons and ecb's than it is for the generic in the grocery stores. I usually get to CVS at least once every other week. I usually only make trip - and I often have my kids with me - so it can be done with careful planning!
I am not a brand-name snob - but I do enjoy getting brand-name items (like Cheerios, Tampax, Pull-ups) for cheaper than the store brand when I can. I try to stock up then so that I can hold off buying until the next sale. That's how you start a stockpile. If you watch the sale fliers at Rite Aid, Walgreen's, and CVS, you'll notice that they have many of the same items on sale at the same time or in the weeks following each other. So I may have gotten 2 bottles of Pantene at CVS this week and next week, I will grab 2 bottles at Walgreen's. (By the way, since starting this whole coupon game, I have not spent more than $1 per bottle on Pantene Shampoo/Conditioner - cuz that's what fine-haired people have to use).
In a nutshell:
Little by little, I stock up from the best sales of each week at each store (called shopping the loss leaders), rotating which weeks I shop at which stores. I hope this made sense and helps you simplify your bargain hunting so you can save money and save your sanity, too!
Got Shopping Tips to share? We love to hear 'em!
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