Brian and I have a pretty set routine on Sundays. We go to church in the morning, go have lunch, and then by the time we get home the boys are usually exhausted. Brian usually gets the boys ready for their naps while I organize my grocery list.
I’ll be the first to admit I’m slightly extremely OCD when it comes to planning my trips to the grocery store. First I do meal plans for the week, so I can see what ingredients I’ll need for various meals. Then I add other items, like paper towels or dog food. Sounds pretty normal so far, right? Well, this initial list isn’t good enough for me. I make another list that is in order of the store layout, so I can be as efficient as possible.
This methodology has been disrupted by a change in stores recently. We had always done our grocery shopping at (shudder…) WalMart. It was never a pleasant experience – it was always very crowded and took forever. It was a lot cheaper than another local store we used to shop at, so we figured this was our best option. Until we rediscovered HEB.
We had gone to HEB here and there a few times since living here, but never paid attention enough to realize they’ve got pretty competitive prices. We decided to try shopping there to look for a few products we used to buy at Central Market (also owned by HEB) in Fort Worth. One trip and I was hooked! Their produce and meat selection has much more variety – and seems a lot fresher. Plus, they make tortillas FRESH IN THE STORE. And they have FREE SAMPLES of said tortillas. They’re also really good about offering combos, where you purchase one item and get another item free (usually something that “goes with” the item you’re purchasing). I have to monitor myself and make sure I don’t get sucked into purchasing something I don’t really need – but I’ve found several combos that fit in with things we’d purchase anyway, so it’s a great perk. HEB also has a program for kids that J thinks is pretty fun. When we check out, he gets some H-E-Buddy Bucks that he can use to play a crane game at the front of the store. In the crane are stickers worth different points – these points are collected and then can be used to get prizes. It’s pretty smart, really, because it makes shopping fun for the kids, which makes parents much happier as a result.
My only complaint about HEB is that I have NO clue about the layout of the store yet, so I can’t plan my list like I prefer to. I still roam the aisles, squinting up at the signs and back-tracking frequently to find something I’ve missed. Hopefully I’ll get it down soon, and in the meantime the deals I’ve found make it worth the trip.
Today was a pretty successful trip. My total started off at $116.14 (including $2.85 saved on sale items), and after coupons was reduced to $98.21 – that’s $17.94 in coupons (some from the newspaper, some printed from the internet, and some found in-store) and $20.78 saved overall. I’d like to include a disclaimer that it would have been an even smaller total, except I had to buy replacement toothbrush heads for Brian that cost TWENTY-ONE DOLLARS. Any tips on finding those cheaper? I couldn’t find any coupons… and Brian really wants to stick with that kind of toothbrush. Anyway, I digress… Here are a couple of the deals I found today:
• I bought three 99-cent Hallmark cards (which I had on my list to purchase) and got a cute $6 Easter jelly bean dispenser for free. We’ll save it for J’s Easter basket.
• I bought bottled water (yes, I know, I need to wean myself off of this… working on it!) – normally $3.88 for a 24-pack, but on sale for $3.33. I had a coupon for $1.00 off of two packages, so that made each pack $2.83.
• I bought a small jar of Planters peanuts for $2.87 – almost the same price we buy them for at WalMart – and got an Oscar Meyer Deli Select sandwich free ($2.50). We eat and cook with peanuts a lot, and the sandwich will be great for Brian to have for lunch sometime this week.
• I bought a package of cooked, fajita-seasoned, shredded chicken for $4.99, and got an 8-oz. package of Kraft shredded cheese ($2.18) free. There’s enough chicken for us to use in at least three meals. Normally we cook and season our own chicken, but this was a good deal for us since we go through cheese pretty quickly anyway.
I know that in some cases we could save a little more, but because we’re both working and want some convenience, we spend more for that. I’m also still learning how to get the best deals, but I feel like I did pretty well overall. I want to really work on getting our weekly grocery budget smaller. It used to be $150/week (not including diapers for both the boys), and now I’m trying to keep it at $100/week, but I plan to work on lowering that. If J would just magically get potty-trained, that could knock some off of our spending, too. If only!