May 24, 2017

Grocery Guru: Extreme Savings without coupons?

Nov7

I’m smack dab in the middle of one of my Grocery Guru Super Doubles weeks at my local Harris Teeter grocer. I hit the store nearly every day, stock up on the best deals available using my twenty coupon limit, and then typically don’t even step in a store for well over a week.

Ever since Extreme Couponing, I’ve shared my new strategic, grocery shopping strategies for how I attack my grocery adventures. I do have to give myself extra time to shop, since it never goes as planned, but it’s opened my eyes to new ways to shop. I really go in with Eagle Eyes, at every store, all the time.

I was tempted to show my counter full of free to nearly free deals, but I know that for many of you, doubling of coupons isn’t even done at your store. I want to help encourage and educate all of us who want to slash those grocery prices, so I thought I would show you only the Grocery Guru “Extreme Couponing” deals that I could buy with absolutely NO coupons.

I’ll start easy, but by the end, you’ll have to put on your “accountant” hats.

1. Mission Flour Tortillas are some of our family favorites. They are on my “Go To” List for Ten Minute Dinners, so I stockpile these when they are BOGO. I try and give myself at least five extra minutes to square the bakery, dairy, meat, produce and convenience food areas for these wonderful yellow stickers. When I saw the Fresh, Ready to Cook tortillas marked from $2.99 – $0.99, I grabbed all three packs.

2. We are huge Hillshire Farm fans, and these Gourmet Creations are typically something I won’t buy without coupons, but today, it was short dated and marked down $2. I then saw a hang tag directly under the shelf that said if you bought any Gourmet Creation, along with a Small Pack of Soda, there would be an additional $3 off taken at the register. Nearly free soda, marked down meat (with Jalapenos no less…my sons/hubby’s favorite) and quick cooking tortillas sounds like a perfect quick and easy Ten Minute Dinner to me.ย  (Use a Hillshire Farm coupon and it makes it even a sweeter deal, but it’s still great withOUT one. :))

Gourmet chips virtually never come into our home. It’s hard to justify smaller bag sizes at larger prices when they are gone in literally five minutes, but when they are marked down to this price, I wish they would have had more. Plus, the Rice & Beans Snack Chips made me fondly think of Dave Ramsey. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Since we’re big smoothie lovers, I never pass up marked down produce. Grapes might be an interesting twist. ๐Ÿ™‚

Now it’s time to put your math hats on just a bit.

The largest amount of money that slips through most shoppers hands are the unadvertised specials. The extra “hoops” that manufacturers and stores make you jump through to receive great deals really add up, if only you know which way to jump.

For instance, Chex Cereal is on sale 2/$5 making them $2.50/box. That is NOT a good stock up price, but most people will buy it thinking it is. My rock bottom cereal price WITH coupons is $1 and under (and I shoot for $0.75.) If you consistently put on your “Eagle Eyes” during your shopping expeditions, your eyes gravitate to hang tangs and the small print. This week, under the Chex Cereal is a hang tag that says “Buy 2 participating Chex Cereal and get the third free.” That now makes 3/$5 getting you a great deal if you don’t use coupons.

Regardless of if you use paper coupons or not, everyone should take the time to register your store cards. Take the few minutes and receive lots of additional savings each week. Many stores now offer their own card holder coupons. Every week, I save all the on-line coupons available whether I think I will use them or not. I typically don’t keep track, so it’s just an extra little surprise at the end of my shopping trip. I had already loaded an additional $1 off Chex Coupon onto my card, which now makes them 3 for $4.

For non coupon users, that’s a stock up price. (I did have a $1/3 coupon, which doubled, making my final price 3/$2.) SWEET!

Edited to add: This $1/2 GM cereals was just added this morning. Print this Chex cereal coupon now for more savings.

Are you starting to see a theme? Even if you don’t cut coupons, there are strategies to follow to receive maximum savings.

This next deal is one main reason I went to the store four days in a row.

(Yes, giving you a glimpse at what the top shelf in my pantry looks like now)

Blue Diamond Almonds and Blue Diamond Crackers were on sale BOGO (buy one, get one free). I LOVE all the different flavors of almonds, so BOGO is a great deal period, but IF you looked closely, some stores had the hang tag telling about this amazing catalina special, other stores did not.That’s where it gets tricky and lots of money is lost. You don’t know, what you don’t know.

Keeping your receipts which announce upcoming Catalina deals is savvy shopping. It’s a pain, but it’s savvy. Weeks ago, separate receipts announced that if you bought 2 Blue Diamond products, you received $0.75 off, but if you bought FOUR products, you received a $4 Catalina good on your next shopping trip.

So let’s put our math hats on.

The Almonds are $3.89 at my store (prices vary), but with this week’s BOGO, they’re 2/$3.89.

Remembering the Catalina, I didn’t just buy two, I bought 4 at $7.78 (and will receive $4 off my next purchase).

Are you following the math?

I am essentially getting FOUR cans of almonds for only $3.78 WITHOUT any coupons. That’s an amazing deal.ย  (Of course, I wouldn’t be a Grocery Guru if I didn’t use at least a few coupons with this, so I used 2 – $1/2, which doubled making all of my cans free. Yes, I am mourning the fact that I only had four of those coupons, but I “bought” EIGHT cans of FREE almonds (with the rolling catalina).

This next transaction is why I made it my personal mission this week to tell every one I came in contact with about this non-coupon deal, including poor unsuspecting bystanders in the store. ๐Ÿ™‚

Once my almond coupons were gone, I moved onto the cracker sale. Remember, “hoops” that you need to jump through are very specific. Do not try and substitute like items on catalina deals. It has to be exact. You can’t buy 8 of these products and expect $8 off. There’s a limit of 4 per transaction. I only did this deal once per shopping day and rolled my catalinas each day, meaning I paid the full amount the first time, but every transaction after, I had the $4 to apply to the total.

Blue Diamond Crackers are $2.99, but this week’s BOGO make them 2/$2.99. Buy four in one transaction at $5.98 and receive a $4 catalina essentially making them 4 for $1.98. Yes, $0.50 cents a box without COUPONS!!! Unfortunately, the great deal with coupons runs through Sunday night, but the catalina deal ended 11/7.

With the holidays approaching, that is SUCH a stock up price and why I have gone now four days in a row. BUT, for you that want to get your feet wet with coupons, there was a $1/2 coupon in 10/16 Smart Source insert (found the date by using my coupon data base.) Yes, those coupons doubled this week, making this a money maker with catalina. That is a rare occurrence and one I am so excited about that it caused me to announce it to unsuspecting strangers.

For some of you, this is how you shop every day, but for many of you, you would love to take me along to the store and show you how to do this.

Hopefully, this step by step look at the process behind Grocery Guru shopping helps you look at shopping through new eyes – EAGLE EYES. ๐Ÿ™‚

For under $20, I bought dinner, chips, crackers, snacks (lots of snacks), fruit, soda and breakfast without any coupons.

That is Grocery Guru shopping, and any of you can do it well with just a little extra time.

P.S. For those heading to Harris Teeter after reading this, Large Jars of Ragu are Buy 2, Get 3 free –ย  NO coupons available, but a worthy, worthy stock pile price.


Comments

  1. Thanks for posting the Chex deal! Doing Super Doubles with three kids 4 and under, I don’t always catch everything. (I get just a tad distracted, ya know?) I got the Blue Diamond stuff, but I totally missed the Chex deal. I’ve got the e-coupon and the $1/3, so I’m good to go! Yay! Cheap cereal seems to be getting harder and harder to come by lately.

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  2. Thanks for the interesting post…I live in a small town and doubling is unheard of and catalinas do not exist. I am intrigued by this process and give a big round of applause to those strategic enough to take advantage.

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    Jen Reply:

    Is it a tiny store? Catalinas are put out by the companies, and not the stores, so most stores should have them unless it’s a small store. It’s the extra papers that print out at the register, but we have a small store in my home town that doesn’t print them either. Any chain stores should.

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    J.M. Reply:

    @Jen, Yes, a small store and…a small town. One of our two is a chain, but they do not have one. There is a supermarket in a neighboring town, but the gas money I would spend alone negates the savings I would have. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    Jen Reply:

    Bummer! Well, the benefits of small town living though is a precious heritage. Offsets those good grocery store deals. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Thank you for stressing that you have to use those EXACT ITEMS to get the deal. I once sent my oldest to the store during a buy-10-get-$5-off promo.

    She didn’t buy the exact items.

    (And we gave her the choice — return the order and redo it, or you get no money snacks for the rest of the month. She chose to keep the order.)

    Sigh.

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  4. Sarah Kenley says:

    Wish we had a Harris Teeter. I live in Virginia where there is no super doubles or triples. The closest thing we have is Kroger and they only double to 50 cents. Makes it really hard to get things for free and we never have deals like the Ragu you mentioned.

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    karen b Reply:

    @Sarah Kenley, Kroger several years ago here in VA would every so often double up to $2. (the max per coupon would be $2) they haven’t did that in a long time. I am one of the “crazy” people that has used coupons forever way before they become cool. โ˜บ

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  5. I have to comment…I have been a rare coupon user and watching all these shows and blogs regarding the strategy use of coupons, is intriguing. I have yet to fully understand or get started on this path. But a question I need answered and which confuses me…I live in Washington State, in my area – we don’t have a “double coupon” and we don’t have an Aldi’s and groceries, in general, seem to be much more expensive. WHY?! is that? It seems that all of the great deals are down south, specific area of California and parts of the mid-west. I’ve noticed at Safeways, QFC, Fred Meyers, Albertsons will have their “specials” (10/for $10, buy 2/get 1 free). But they don’t compare to other parts of the country, especially with double coupons.

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  6. Don’t you just love it when a grocery item is marked down AND you have coupons?!!! A lot of times then it ends up being free! It’s fun to make a game of saving money at the store! Seems the family enjoys the shopping trip more that way too! It’s all in attitude!

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  7. Let’s see…I use oatmeal, millet, or rice for cereal ($.50-$1. a pound from my co-op – 1 cup of grains feeds my family of four, and I cook it in crock pot overnight) or make granola. We stay away from expensive items like chips, pop, and crackers, and seldom have almonds. We seldom buy prepared meat (like Hillshire), and buy most of our groceries at Aldi’s, which saves lots of time and money. And the best part? No coupons!

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    Jen Reply:

    Absolutely. I have all those great whole foods in my pantry as well, but I love that we all have various options. Especially thrilled I could stock up on these treats for the holidays that are typically expensive.

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    Answered Reply:

    I am so sorry – I was arrogant in my attitude, and much more “me” than Christ. Please forgive me, Jen. Feel free to delete both posts.

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    Jen Reply:

    You just blessed me by this. NO worries. We are all on this road together and that’s the beauty of the body. We don’t all do things the same way, but we can learn from each other and trust me…whole foods will win in the healthy/frugal road anytime. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  8. Rennelda Schumacher says:

    I love the photo of all the boxes. Is that in your pantry? Honestly, I thought it would be organized but you are plain folk like the rest of us!! LOL!! Out of all the bargain sites I am signed up with, yours has a personal touch to it. I love reading your stories about your kids!! Never a dull moment there, huh?

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    Jen Reply:

    Oh REnnelda – for SURE that is my pantry. Nope, not one bit organized and that is exactly why I showed it and you are seeing the “neat” shelf…. ๐Ÿ˜‰ hahah

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  9. I have a question. The catalina notices you get, are those on the receipt or does it come out of the Catalina machine? Also, is this at all stores, or just Harris Teeter

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    Jen Reply:

    The catalinas print at the front register, right below here the register receipt prints, but typically the cashier hands you all that “junk mail.” I always make sure that I double check those.

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  10. I got the same deal with the sausages and sodas— But mine was an extra $3.00 off! So I got a total of $6.00 off the deal AND the soda was on VIC special.

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  11. one question— how do you find out about catalinas? I never see them promoted except on deal blogs like this. Or maybe I am not looking or reading the bottom of my receipt.

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    Jen Reply:

    That’s where catalinas are tricky. Yes, the best way to find out is on deal blogs, but they are always advertised either at the bottom of receipts, on a separate slip of paper that they hand you with your receipt or often, it will be advertised in the sales flyer, but typically a few weeks before it starts.

    Many times, the catalina special will go for many weeks, BUT only one of those weeks ends up having the specific product on sales. If I see an upcoming special on items I think will have potential, I keep that sales flyer since I know I’ll forget about it.

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  12. When I printed the coupon you linked to, the cereal options you can buy don’t include Chex. It includes things like Lucky Charms and Cinnamon Toast Crunch, but only sugar-laden stuff like that. I think that’s what frustrateds me about deal sites and why I’ve pretty much quit even looking at any of them. For me, it just usually works best to buy at Walmart and cook from scratch as much as possible. But thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  13. Thanks for these tips, I used them today! My 2 year old got a bad burn on his foot & after I took him to the doctor today, we had to go to HT to fill a prescription. So I had your blog up on my phone as I shopped while we waited for the Rx to be filled. Got the Ragu & the Chex (I even downloaded the eVIC coupon to my VIC card from my smart phone right in the store…along with several others!) It all worked great, except I didn’t get a Catalina for $4 off when I checked out. I purchased 4 of the BOGO Blue Diamond crackers, so I don’t know what went wrong ๐Ÿ™ I thought it printed out because the cashier handed me something with my receipt, but I was focusing on my 2 year old & didn’t realize that I didn’t get the catalina. Oh well, I will try again! Thanks for all of the great tips! Blessings!

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    Jen Reply:

    Ok, please forgive me. The Blue Diamond deal ran for nearly a month, but it was just the great deal (but ended midnight on Mon. am.) My sincere apologies!!!

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  14. Love this, Jen! While I don’t have Harris Teeter, our local Kroger is running some great promotions, too. I’ve already made one trip and will definately be going back to stock up! Thanks for continuing to be a positive and encouraging voice of realistic extreme couponing!

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  15. I did the exact same deals this week! Love it!

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  16. I seldom use coupons anymore-they expire so quickly! I’m like Nanci (above) and don’t have the stores or the double coupons either. What I have found is-keep an eye open like Jen says for quick mark downs/meat/dairy and produce. And use your coupons right away-if you do have them! I am growing tired of the “buy 5,” to get $3 off. I don’t need 5 of something. When I buy pop that way, it usually goes flat by the time we get to it. I love hearing of the great deals though.. My favorite thing about going on vacation is grocery shopping! It runs in my family
    mom/sisters/and now my 12 year old. Its less expensive than the mall!

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