Frugal Weekly Grocery Strategy
Each week, I share my menu plan and recipes with you. But I thought it might be fun to go over my weekly strategy for bargain shopping. I’ve always been frugal, and I’ve carried that over into grocery shopping. I’m not claiming to be an authority, but here’s what I do.
Once a Week Shopping
My first goal is to do most all of my shopping on one day of the week. For me, that day is Monday. Monday morning, I go to all the stores I think I’m going to need things from during the week. On a typical Monday, I might visit CVS, Walgreens, Kroger, Meijer, and maybe a store or two at a nearby shopping area. Grouping all my shopping into a single trip does a few things: it saves gas, because I don’t have to leave the house each day for just a thing or two. It also saves me time, because I’m grouping all my errands into a single “morning out.” Additionally, since I don’t spend a lot of time in stores, I have less temptation to buy things. I find it very true that the less time I spend in stores, the less money I spend, period. The older I get, the less “recreational shopping” I care to do.
Sunday Prep for Monday Shopping
Since my Monday shopping trips involve many stores, there is prep involved. First, I look through the ads in our Sunday paper. I always look for any deals at Walgreens and CVS — usually there are at least a few things at each that are worth my time to pick up. I use the site Hip2Save for these stores. Each Saturday, she posts ads for the upcoming week along with deals she sees (she’ll also post printable coupons for those deals, and other ways to save).
Then I go through the Meijer and Kroger ads. For those, I go to the Bargains to Bounty site — she has similar lists of all the deals in the ads each week for those stores, and more ways to save.
So, I make my shopping lists for each store. For the drug stores, I typically write what I want to buy on the front of the ads, and then I take the ads along into the stores. For grocery stores, I write my list on a recycled “junk mail” envelope, and put the coupons I plan to use inside the envelope. I check out Ibotta (affiliate link) and Checkout51 to see if they offer money back on any of the items I’m planning to buy that week. If so, I note this on my shopping list so I’ll know what to scan when I return home.
How do I make my shopping list for groceries? Well, if you’re a Menu Plan Monday reader, you know that on Sunday afternoons I plan the recipes I’ll prepare that week. I make a list of the ingredients I need for those meals. I also look through the sale fliers and purchase any items we regularly use that are on sale for a good price. Many weeks, since I buy this way, I have to purchase very few items at full price since I’ve already stocked up on them when they were on sale earlier.
Why do I go to Kroger and Meijer as my major grocery stores? Well, Meijer is a tradition. I’ve shopped there since the store opened 25 or so years ago. Kroger often has some great deals, so there are always some things I want there, too. Honestly, at least in my area, in the past year or so Kroger has better deals than Meijer does. For a low everyday price, Walmart is good. But honestly, I just don’t care for the feel and clientele of my Walmart. That’s why it’s not a weekly destination for me. I tend to make a Walmart list and wait until there are several things I need from there, and then visit maybe once a month.
Monday: Heading to the Stores
When Monday morning arrives, the hard work is behind me. Armed with my shopping lists, I go from one store to the next. Often, by the time it’s lunchtime, I will have lined up a mystery shop at a food location to treat myself to a free lunch. Many other times, I have a coupon for a free food item that I’ll redeem. For instance, I have downloaded free apps for many restaurants, and often these offer freebies.
Once I’ve purchased everything, I head home and put it all away, and scan the receipts I need to for Ibotta and Checkout51. Another thing I recommend is to join Kelloggs Family Rewards. If you buy Kellogg’s products, scan your receipts at that site and you can earn rewards there. I’ve redeemed for free Applebee’s gift cards there a few times.
Just this week, as I was walking the aisles at Meijer, I reflected on how shopping has changed since I began doing it about 25 years ago. Then, I had lots of paper coupons (which Meijer doubled). Those days are gone. These days, it’s about learning how to use apps, digital coupons, and more. I wonder what shopping will look like in another decade or two?
So there you have it: my frugal weekly grocery strategy. Now I’m curious to learn some ways you save! I always enjoy learning from others, because inevitably you do a few smart things I haven’t thought of.