We all know grocery prices have risen astronomically, and now the USDA tells us they will rise more in coming months. Along with all our strategies on these 31 days to combat rising food costs, I hope to pass along the idea to make every route a “Grocery Route” wherever you go. The best deals are often in the most unlikely places. If you can make this a habit, some of the greatest loss leaders can be found on your “grocery route.”
Watch this video as I explain more…
Acknowledge that you did your daily reading by leaving a comment on the Facebook thread for Day 23. Share with us… What deals/loss leaders have you scored on your “grocery route”? Any great food buys in the most unlikely places?
Optional additional reading:
Learning YOUR “Grocery Route” is about opening your eyes at all times wherever you go to be a gatherer of loss leaders along your way. But take it a step further…
Plan your errands around gathering. Here’s some ideas to think about….
If the bakery thrift store is on the other end of town, and let’s say their biggest markdown day is Wednesday. If your kids’ music teacher is on that end of town too, schedule their music lessons on the bargain bread day. That way, you’re already there and you can get your weekly bread deals without going out of your way. You’ve just added to your grocery route!
Or, maybe you have regular appointments near a great produce stand that has bargain days, or discounts near the end of the day. If so, book your appointments accordingly.
Also, open your eyes to take advantage of great food deals in more unlikely places. Even retail stores like TJ Maxx and Ross should be part of your “grocery route.” I’ve been able to stock up on olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and even organic buckwheat pancake mix at a fraction of the regular prices.
Make every route a “grocery route,” and be willing to stop and take advantage of unexpected savings opportunities.
To show your commitment to 31 days, go back and comment on Facebook thread for Day 23. Share with us… What deals/loss leaders have you scored on your “grocery route”? Any great food buys in the most unlikely places?
Warehouse club stores, BJs, Costco, and Sam’s Club, should not be your first stop for investing on most things. Generally, they’re good for eggs, butter, and cheese. Milk can be a better price at warehouse club stores, but many supermarkets have just as good of a deal if you buy two gallons of milk, and the second gallon can be at adiscount.
The truth is that supermarkets most often beat warehouse club stores when you invest in name brand products on sale with a coupon. There is always the exception to the rule, but it’s good to be aware, and don’t just load up your cart thinking you’re getting the best deals all the time. Blue items on our lists at www.TheGroceryGame.com are expected to beat warehouse club stores. In this video, I share what I like and don’t like in terms of warehouse club stores:
Acknowledge that you did your daily reading by leaving a comment on the Facebook thread for Day 22. Share what you buy or don’t buy at warehouse club stores. And if you play http://www.TheGroceryGame.com/ which things have you found that cost less when on sale with a coupon at the supermarket?
Optional additional reading and VIDEO:
My Costco has great quality meat, but the featured special meat deal on the front page of my Vons’ circular beats their price every time. Vons is a Safeway store, and we think their “Ranchers Reserve” meat is just as good as Costco.
On Day 5, we learned how to save on fruits and veggies by buying in season and what’s on sale at the supermarket in the fresh produce section. We also learned to stock up on great sales in the freezer section to fill in the gaps when the selection is low on fresh produce sales. If you compare the cost per pound on most of the featured fresh produce sales at your supermarket against the cost per pound at warehouse club stores, you’ll most often find that not everything at the latter is the best price. However, sometimes when you lack variety at the supermarket, you can fill in with some other produce at warehouse club stores. Just don’t think that all of it beats your supermarket’s sales.
I do like warehouse club stores for some things, like big parties. Their wide variety of frozen appetizers work well in lieu of the high cost of a caterer. Here’s a holiday video where I explain how I throw a party for 50 using their high quality fancy appetizers:
At drugstores, we get toothpaste, meds and more for super cheap and even free, but we also get groceries at great savings! In fact, this week, we’ve got $42 worth of groceries for $12 and change, and one box of meal bars for free! Plus $53 worth of non-food items for free! Today is the last day of the sales week, but none of this is unusual, so there WILL be more to come!
The best grocery savings at drugstores usually stack up with a Sale + Manufacturer coupon + Store coupon. Manufacturer coupons are found in the newspaper inserts or printed at www.TheGroceryGame.com. The store coupons are usually found in the drugstore circular.
Typically, the best grocery deals have a “limit.” Like on canned tomatoes or soups, for example, it will read “limit 3″ on the “store coupon.” There’s almost always some grocery deals, but some weeks focus on grocery savings more than others.
Some of the deal stacking may also include instant rebates at checkout. These are called “Register Rewards” at Walgreens, “Extra Care Bucks” at CVS, and “UPs” at Rite Aid. These instant rebates come out of the register as a coupon to be used like cash on future purchases! Stack them up with manufacturer coupons and other deals, and rake it in! Sweet!
Acknowledge that you did your daily reading by leaving a comment on the Facebook thread for Day 21. Brag about your drugstore deal stacking, and tell us how much “Drugstore Dining” you’ve been doing!
Optional additional reading:
In addition to the above, on our lists at www.TheGroceryGame.com, you’ll see other notations. Like if you hover over “IVC” on your Walgreens list, it will tell you there’s an “Instant Value Coupon” found in their “IVC” booklet to go with that deal. On your Rite Aid list, you can hover over “VV,” and learn there’s a “Video Value” coupon that you can print from the Rite Aid website after viewing a video. I just printed one for $1.50 the other day! And the videos are short and painless!
Drugstore deal stacking is the most comprehensive and could be complicating in terms of multiple sources of deals, and biggest stacks, sometimes four deals all on one item. We’ve created super easy tools at www.TheGroceryGame.com, one being our “Gather Coupons” coupons feature that helps you get it all together from numerous sources, based on the specific deals you’ve selected!
I just logged in to www.TheGroceryGame.com and chose to look at all three drugstores at once. I sorted by savings percentage, and checked off cereals, soups, frozen food, tuna and more. My subtotal shows $42.58 cents worth of 11 grocery items for $12.13. That’s a 71% savings. Today is the last day of the sales at the three drugstores for this week, so you can log in now and see that. If you wait until tomorrow, you’ll see something different.
Here’s a video that I hope will make you fall in love with drugstore deal stacking. The savings you’ll see are not unusual, and while it wasn’t a huge grocery week, I got lots of really nice makeup and decadent skincare items too!
To show your commitment to 31 days, go back and comment on Facebook thread for Day 21. Brag about your drugstore deal stacking, and tell us how much “Drugstore Dining” you’ve been doing! http://www.facebook.com/TheGroceryGame
Unlike “sales,” Manager’s specials, clearance and overstock deals are usually unique short lived opportunities until the supply runs out. They’re unique in that most are due to some extenuating circumstance at that particular store, such as a mistake on the stock order, or a discontinued product, a change in packaging, or any other number of reasons.
These deals will usually only be there for a day or less, and most often are not damaged, or second rate. Some are even free with a coupon.
Keep an eye out for these unusual signs and shelf tags, and seize the opportunity to invest, if it’s something you would ever use, as these often really are “loss leaders”, as in being sold at a loss.
I share a few examples in the video here:
Acknowledge that you did your daily reading by leaving a comment on Facebook thread for Day 20. Tell us what kinds of deals you’ve snagged on Manager’s specials or clearance!
Optional additional reading:
Going back to Day 7, “Slow and Easy Wins”, have you done any slow cooking? If you’ve invested in a slow cooker, here’s some guidelines from Chapter 14 of “Shop Smart, Save More.”
7 Guidelines for Making Up Your Own Slow Cooker Recipes.
Experiment! Make up your own slow cooker meals. Get adventurous. That’s all part of the fun.
1. Cut root vegetables into small pieces. Root vegetables like potatoes and carrots take longer to cook than meat in slow cookers. So cut them into small pieces, no thicker than one inch.
2. Cook vegetables near the bottom and sides. Vegetables should be covered by liquid. So put the vegetables on the bottom and the meat on top.
3. Let beans cook before adding tomatoes. Sugar and acidic foods, such as tomatoes, will cause the shells of the beans to remain hard while cooking. To remedy that, let the beans get completely cooked in the slow cooker and add tomatoes or other sugary or acidic ingredients after you are sure the beans are completely cooked. This doesn’t apply to canned beans.
4. Don’t slow cook rice or pasta. Rice and pasta need to be cooked separately. You can add them to what you cooked in the crockpot just before you serving. (unless a tried and true slow cooker recipe tells you to use rice, and the recipe specifies how to do it).
5. Don’t slow cook milk products. Milk products tend to break down with extended cooking. However, if you want milk or other milk products, such as cheese or sour cream in your recipe, you can add it during the last hour of cooking. Condensed creamed soups are the exception. You can slow cook those.
6. Season near the end of cooking. Slow cookers have a different effect on flavors of things like garlic powder, seasonings, and herbs and spices. While you can add some during cooking, taste again when it’s done and add more if needed. Whole herbs can be slow cooked, and actually benefit by having time to reach their full effect.
7. Use very little water. Remember, water doesn’t evaporate like oven or stove top cooking. 1/2 to 1 cup of liquid is usually more than enough unless a recipe specifies otherwise.
To show your commitment to 31 days, go back and comment on Facebook thread for Day 20. Tell us what kinds of deals you’ve snagged on Manager’s specials or clearance! http://www.facebook.com/TheGroceryGame
See you tomorrow for more savings in 2012, and…
PLEASE, don’t pay full price for anything! http://www.TheGroceryGame.com/ – See what’s in store for you!
But first why you gotta love em… an excerpt from Chapter 9: of “Shop Smart, Save More”…
Lovin’ those Legumes
I always say, “Eat beans once a week.” That sounds like punishment to some people, something you have to do because you can’t afford meat. Yes, they’re cost-efficient (aka CHEAP!) but they’re also very healthy. Legumes are a good source of fiber, and studies have shown they may carry the following health benefits:
* Linked to reduced risk of cancer in general, specifically colon and breast cancer
* May help lower cholesterol
* May help to reduce the risk of heart disease.
* Can help in the management or even prevention of diabetes
(End of excerpt from “Shop Smart, Save More” by Teri Gault with Sheryl Berk)
Now, my “Beans” VIDEO:
Acknowledge that you did your daily reading by leaving a comment on Facebook thread for Day 18. (Sorry, I know we went a little over 5 minutes today. I blame “Marley”) Share your ideas on how you use BEANS as a strategy for a healthy meal and healthy for your budget!
(Continuation from “Shop Smart, Save More” by Teri Gault with Sheryl Berk)
Teri’s Tip: Make Monday Meatless
John Hopkins University is right there with me in encouraging people to eat meatless once a week. The health experts there have started a whole wonderful campaign that is sweeping the nation, called “Meatless Monday”. The idea of the campaign is to help prevent heart disease, stroke and cancer, which according to John Hopkins University are the three leading causes of death in America. So it saves money and saves your life! ‘Nuf said. For more info and recipes, visit www.MeatlessMonday.com.
During my roughest financial years, we ate beans one or more times a week, as a meatless meal. I can feed my family of 4 for as little as $2 with a bean meal. I’m an Okie. And fortunately, I married a Texan, which means that we grew up with the same dinner favorites. I grew up with a pot of pinto beans and ham hock with cornbread as a my favorite meal. So did he! We were a match made in heaven. Especially during rough financial times, we got to eat “our favorite” a lot. I remember during my coin rolling days, when I had $35 a week for groceries for the four of us, we would have “Beans and Cornbread” quite often. Oh my boys are big fans of “Pinto Beans and Ham hock.” I usually buy ham hocks in a 2-pack for $2-$3. When the butcher has to mark them down for same day sale, I can score four 2-packs at half price, making them less than $1 each. I only use one and freeze the other.
Now to show your commitment to 31 days, go back and comment on Facebook thread for Day 18. Share your ideas on how you use BEANS as part of your strategy for healthy meals that don’t break the bank! http://www.facebook.com/TheGroceryGame
I’ve discovered some of my best savings secrets just by asking questions where-ever I go. I once asked at Macy’s in New York, “Are there any discounts or coupons I should be aware of?” She initially said no, but in our conversation, she asked where I was from. In the end, I found out that an out of town visitor gets an additional 11% discount! If I had been afraid to ask, I never would have known! That one question on that one day has saved me lots of money wherever I go! And by the way, that visitor pass works on clearance items too! And I’ve gotten them at Lord & Taylor, and others.
This applies to shopping for groceries too! Make a habit of getting to know the nice people at YOUR supermarket and don’t be afraid to ask money saving questions. I once asked my deli manager if he had any special deals. He was so excited and told me, “Wait right here.” He returned with an armload of name brand lunch meat saying, “I just brought all this in the back to put the half off clearance stickers on them.” I couldn’t even take all that he offered me. But I got all I wanted for half off, just because I asked!
In this video, I share a few more ways that asking questions has helped me save loads of money on groceries:
Acknowledge that you did your daily reading by leaving a comment on Facebook thread for Day 19. Share your experience about asking questions in the supermarket, and how getting to know your butcher, baker, and others has saved you money!
Optional additional reading:
As a continuation on yesterday’s “Lovin Those Legumes,” here’s an excerpt from Chapter 9 of “Shop Smart, Save More” with one of our family’s favorite recipes!
A bowl of wisdom
During those horrible coin rolling years with no money, my son Joe came home from school and really wanted to make a recipe that his teacher gave him. My first thought was panic. What if I had none of the ingredients in my stockpile? What if it required some expensive items to make? When I saw it, I was so relieved. It was a lentil soup. It was “Esau’s Pottage”, and it’s based on a Biblical tale about Esau and his birthright as firstborn son of twins over his brother Jacob. That birthright came with riches, land, cattle and more. But because he was very hungry on a hunting expedition with Jacob, Esau gave up his birthright for a bowl of Jacob’s soup. Not a very smart decision, and one made in haste without much thought to the future.
This dish has become one of our family traditions. So many times throughout Joe’s life, when he wanted to do something “less than wise,” I would ask him if he wanted to give up his birthright for a bowl of soup. Boy was that story handy during the teenage years! We ate the soup often, enjoyed the flavor, economy, nutrition, and wisdom of “Esau’s Pottage” every time.
A few tips on how to make it:
•You can skip the lamb for a meatless soup: Now I have to admit, we were too broke to buy the lamb when Joe originally brought me the recipe back in 1994. So I skipped it and never told. I’ve left the lamb in the recipe below, as that’s the way it’s supposed to be made. But for “Meatless Monday”, you should try skipping the lamb, and see if you love it as much as we do.
•Don’t be afraid to try substitutions in any soup. Over the years, I have made lots of substitutions, adapting this recipe to my stockpile, and it has always been good. Last night, since it was a last minute idea, I didn’t have carrots or celery, only 2 big onions. So to make up for the flavor of the onions and celery, I added some all-purpose salt free seasoning from my stockpile (it has dried onion and celery seed). As usual, I did not have any lamb (goes against our traditional family pottage anyway). Instead of water, I used organic chicken broth from my stockpile for added flavor. I also added red and yellow peppers, because I had them, and they were pretty, and decided to grate one large yellow squash into it. Even with all those substitutions, “Esau’s Pottage” was delicious!
•When I have fresh tomatoes, I usually plunge them in boiling water to peel them. But rather than bring another pot to a boil, I wash them and throw them in whole with my sautéing onions. Once the skins begin to split, I pull them out with a slotted spoon. Then I can easily slip the skins off. Instead of cutting them on a cutting board, which gets messy, I hold each peeled tomato over the pot, and puncture it with my thumb, so it won’t explode tomato juice everywhere when I squeeze and shred the “meat” with my fingers. I hang on to the hard stump near the stem and discard it. This is a fast way to prepare tomatoes for soups or sauces.
There are lots of recipes for this soup out there, but this is our favorite, straight from Joe’s teacher in 4th grade.
Source: Adapted from The Bible Cookbook by Marian Maeve O’Brien.
½ cup olive oil (have it in my stockpile)
6 onions, diced
1 lb. lamb, cubed
2 stalks celery
1 green pepper
2 cups tomatoes (or use canned from stockpile)
1 lb. lentils
2–3 cups water (I start with 3 cups, and usually add 2-3 more while cooking)
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
Heat the oil; add the onions and saute until tender but not brown. Add the cubed meat (it should be as lean as possible) and let simmer while washing and dicing the vegetables. Add the vegetables and lentils to the meat with 2 cups of water, and simmer gently until lentils are tender. It will take about 1½ hours. Add salt and pepper when the lentils are cooked. Shake the pot occasionally or add another cup of water to prevent sticking. Makes 6–8 servings
(End of excerpt from “Shop Smart, Save More” by Teri Gault with Sheryl Berk)
To show your commitment to 31 days, go back and comment on Facebook thread for Day 19. Share your experience about asking questions in the supermarket, and how getting to know your butcher, baker, and others has saved you money! http://www.facebook.com/TheGroceryGame
See you tomorrow more savings in 2012, and…
PLEASE, don’t pay full price for anything! http://www.TheGroceryGame.com/ – Most members save enough in the 4 week free trial to buy a deep freezer!