I HATE the grocery game.
I was sitting at Barnes & Noble a couple of weeks ago and flipped through this book on how to save money at the grocery store while still being able to prepare tasty and healthy meals for your family. The author claims that she now spends like $65 a week on groceries, and I'm sitting there thinking, 'I don't know what kind of canned corn and white rice you're eating every night lady, but there is NO way I could get my bill down that low.'
That said, I felt challenged to see if I could reduce our grocery bills as well. Including Organic formula and baby food some of them have neared the $150 mark lately, and that is WAY over our budget.
My mother is the queen, and I mean the QUEEN of all bargain shoppers. I still remember her cardboard box filled with the hundreds of coupons she would sift through each week in an effort to feed a family of six on a budget and salary that was, at times, probably half of what ours is now. Now that I have a family of my own, I admire her efforts and the amount of time necessary to shop sales, track coupons, and sometimes visit multiple grocery stores in order to eat well on a budget.
I am an intermitant coupon cutter. I'll do it for several weeks, use a couple of the coupons, they will all expire, I'll throw them out, and a month or two later I'll try again. Well, the author of this book, she is a lady that knows how to play the game... she even talked about organizing her coupons in a binder with those plastic sheets used for baseball cards, by category and takes a calculator to the store to tally everything as she goes!
So, last week, I followed some of her advice. I read the ads (we have 3 major grocery store ads each week), cut my coupons and cross referenced the ads and coupons for the best deal.
Tops had a coupon for $5 off a $50 order, plus 2 coupons that would double a coupon up to $1...in the words of the book I had read, coupons are like money, so I was pretty excited to already have an extra $7 towards groceries. Here is where the problem lies:
Wegmans roasting turkeys were .79 lb., while Tops were $1.19 a lb.
Tops had ground turkey on sale for $2.99 lb., but Wal-Mart regularly carries tubes of turkey meat for $1.99 lb.
Dash's has chicken breast on sale for $1.29 lb., far better than all other stores, but I've heard they're more expensive on everything else.
Aldi has a 3 lb. bag of oranges for 1.69 and grapefruits for .29, but I can't do all of my shopping there.
Ugh. You get the point.
So, in the end, I decided to take my chances at Tops with my $7 in store coupons, plus a couple of manufactuerers coupons I had clipped.
Scott took Ava to Lowe's. I packed Ella into her car seat and dragged her to Tops. I put her car seat in the big part of the cart and stacked my groceries on the seat and all around her. Onions and potatoes and yogurt and Special K, all sorts of stuff piling up in the nooks and crannies around her car seat while I shopped for bargains.
After 45 minutes of shopping, picking up everything on my list and a lot on sale and feeling really proud of myself for saving money I get in line and before I even look in my bag I have a huge, "O shit" moment.
"Oh, shit, I left the friggin' $5 coupon and the two $1 off coupons sitting in my newly created grocery folder at home!!!!!!!"
I don't have a Tops card so the girl has to get one. My onions, for some reason, don't ring in buy 1 get 1 free like they were supposed to, so now she has to call the manager over. One of my coupons that I did bring didn't work because I got the wrong vegetables. Ella is getting fussy because she has been strapped in her car seat for 45 minutes while I try to bargain shop and the poor lady behind me in line has like eight items and a front row seat to watch this whole thing go down.
On a positive note, they told me I could bring my coupons and my receipt back tomorrow when the service counter is open to get my money back. Like I have time for that!!
So, as I drove home, I had to tell myself what I tell myself a lot lately, "Lisa, you're doing the best you can."
That's all we can ask for on most days.