Sunday, May 31, 2009

What Can You Buy For $169.60?

What can you buy for $169.70? A whole boatload of groceries, that's what. Yesterday, I decided to do some price comparison between Trader Joe's, Aldi's and Stop and Shop and made out quite well. I have to say that I was very disoriented having never shopped in Trader Joe's or Aldi's so it took me quite a while to acclimate myself. I had not been shopping in almost 3 weeks other than the organic meat my husband bought at the farmers market. I was really low on a lot of items for my pantry but think I fared ok with making meals and using what we had on hand. We didn't go hungry and I made some really good meals this week.
This is my kitchen table chock full of stuff. Let's start with Stop and Shop. I hit some really good deals. Barilla pasta was $1.00 a box so I restocked on 10 of those and used 3/$1.00 off coupons. Kellogs cereal was also on sale, save $4.00 when you buy 4 boxes and I had 4/$1.00 off coupons and earned gas rewards points($0.30 a gallon of gas off) and a free gallon of milk. I had several coupons for free items. One of my coupons was buy any Ritz and get free Artisan wheat thins. I had coupons for the Ritz and the Artisans crackers too. I wasn't sure those 2 coupons were going to go through but they did. Some stores won't let you use coupons when the item is listed as free. I'm glad I tried. I'll be doing this more often.
I ended up having $53.75 in manufacturers coupons, $30.44 in store card savings and $4 off my order because of the double coupons. On my register receipt I had purchased 145 items. Not a bad excursion if I do say so.
Here is another angle of my table. My family has been looking into buying more organic stuff and I really wanted to price compare. Trader Joe's was really nice to shop in. I did buy some whole wheat hamburger buns for $1.89 that were delicious and reasonably priced. I was able to sample some food while there, most was really tasty but in reality the sizes of boxed items are too small and too expensive for me to purchase regularly. Their organic produce was very reasonably priced and I picked up quite a few things while there. My bill at Trader Joe's was $70.08 for not a lot of items but I will return for their produce. That's at least a start in buying organic. Their cheese selections were also quite good and competitively priced. But not being able to use coupons there really threw me off my game and I felt quite guilty about buying some items.
Here's another view looking down the other end of the table. One of my most expensive purchases today was the Castile Soap-geez it's expensive. I use this for making most of my cleaners now that I'm not buying any chemical stuff. It does however go along way when you are just using teaspoons of castile in the cleaners.
I also went to Aldi's and was again thrown off my game. I was quite annoyed that I had to fish out a quarter to unlock the carriages and then couldn't figure the whole chain connector thing out. I did get my quarter back when I returned the cart but it is a pain. You also need to bring your own shopping bags because they just pile everything in your cart warehouse style. Aldi's was dirt cheap for stocking up on snacks and canned goods. Canned corn was 40 cents a can, I bought a whole case as well as a case of black beans and diced tomatoes with chili's. Bagels and bread were a bargain at $0.99 each. Vanilla Wafers were only $1.29 compared to Stop and Shop's $3.69 for the same item. Cat litter was $3.69 for the very large scoopable kind. Most of Aldi's carries odd named brands of items so I didn't have any coupons there either. My total at Aldi's was $66.27 ($4 of that total was on new tote bags that I purchased-I needed a few more)

This is more stuff I was able to purchase and couldn't fit on my table for the picture. Aldi's had cheap tomato sauce. I'll use just about any jarred sauce when I don't have fresh tomatoes in season to make my own. Sauce is one of those items that can be doctored up and fixed to your liking so find the cheapest you can.
Even with us buying organic meat for $135.00 ( it will last about 2 months) and with my $169.60 that I spent yesterday we are still under the $100.00 a week budget.
My husband is insisting that we are over budget but we are having difficulty figuring out how to categorize items when I shop at places that are both grocery and department stores like Target or Walmart. Short of dissecting every receipt, I'm not sure how to tackle this. Right now everything is getting put in the grocery line items and we are frustrated.
I'd love to hear how others manage this.
Happy shopping!


BECKY! said...

Great job Bev! I've been trying to do the $100 a week thing - it is hard if you buy other things too (I sometimes buy gifts or whatnot at BJ's). I'm finding that I'm spending more than I did in January, February & March. I'm thinking it's because I'm buying more produce, but I really don't know. Great trips!

homeschool mamma said...

Thanks Becky,
I'm hoping our produce bill goes down once the garden gets in full production. We've had a couple of cookouts already and that pushed us over budget. Need to plan better for those.

Melissa R said...

You can either
1) pay for grocery items separately at Walmart so that you have a separate receipt
2) group all grocery items at the end of your order so that they are all at the end of your receipt and you can easily add up the food total

Personally, I pay separately so that I have a separate receipt for the food.

Great shopping. Thanks for sharing it with us. You know something that frustrates me? That produce rarely ever has coupons. Why can't Sunkist give coupons? Or the apple grower's association (so that you could use it on any brand).
I agree about TJ's cheese section!! My favorite is Dubliner
It has little particles in it, I love that texture.

Melissa R

Melissa R said...

Oh, one more idea... have the kids look through the receipts and separate out the categories and give you totals!!!
Homeschooling, math, life skills, budgeting and helping mom, all wrapped into one!

homeschool mamma said...

Thanks Melissa-great ideas. And Morgan is my calculator Queen in the store. She totals as we go along then figures out coupons too, double coupons, freebies, the whole bit.

Kate in NJ said...

I buy a lot of grocery items
at our local Target, and I put everything at the end, so I can see it on the receipt..and bag it seperately.

homeschool mamma said...

Very simple-why didn't I think of that? Thanks Kate