Saturday, October 1, 2011

Shopping the Ads and a Trip to Kroger

Today kicks off week three of the hunger challenge. At this point, the new budget is feeling more routine. Unlike the first week, I felt like I was able to stray from the plan without fearing I'd run out of food. Part of this was due to leftovers from week one, but I think it was mostly because I was a bit more savvy with things I bought that would last for more meals with less cooking. Namely, peanut butter, honey and a loaf of bread.

Rather than talk you through what my grocery haul for the week shall be, I decided to film my shopping trip to give you a different view of how it all goes down. This week's strategy was focused on maximizing the savings from the weekly store ad.

A few things to note when you're going about your grocery shopping this way:
  1. Know the rules. Do you have to buy 5 to get the 5 for $6 price? Or can you buy one and still take advantage of the savings?
  2. Have a B plan. You never know when something will be sold out or the sale will have changed, so make sure you can be flexible. If a third of your meals for the week depend on one item being available, think about alternatives before you go to the store.
  3. Make a plan that's under budget. If you find yourself having to make an unexpected substitution mid-trip the alternative may slightly increase your grocery bill. Leave a little bit of wiggle room so it won't break the bank if you have to change your plan.
  4. Don't loose sight of non-sale items. Often times a generic brand is still cheaper than a name brand on sale. Browse the products around the sale item you're after to ensure you really are getting the best deal. 
Do any of you have other tips on saving money and shopping smart when you're using the weekly store ads as part of your strategy? Share them if you've got them!

Here's how my trip to the store went this week. I think I had violations of rules 1, 2, 3 and 4. And I overstated my budget by a penny.
I suppose Pro Tip #5 should be don't do your grocery shopping in the middle of the night...


  1. On shopping at Kroger - also learn where to look for the "Manager's Specials" in the dairy. meat and sometimes produce sections. They will have yellow and orange sticky tags on them with the reduced price.

    I would like to see you shop at Aldi or Walmart where prices are often lower than Kroger or the other mainstream groceries. There is a lot smaller selection of items at Aldi, but at reduced prices. It can be good, but it is also a place where you can see how a HUGE bag of frozen french fries is about half the price of the same amount of fresh potatoes and healthy oil would be to make your own fried potatoes. In my opinion it is pricing like that that aids and abets the increase in obesity and other health problems that plague the poor.

  2. I know I've played the "devil's advocate" here and posted some negative comments. But I do really commend you for what you are doing. I wish those on food stamps were trying to eat as healthy as you are. Have you thought anything about "taking it to the next level"? Doing some research somehow on what people are buying with food stamps. Then using your experience in educating some on food stamps or those just starting out on food stamps how they can make it work and not resort to eating Ramen Noodle Soup, etc. Have you thought about writing an article for a magazine about your experience? I can't think of which magazine it would best fit. But I'm just throwing out some ideas. Anyway Kudos to you. You've done a great job! that takes a lot of discipline!! :)

  3. Thanks so much for your interest and encouragement, Toni! I have started to give some thought on what's next. Last week I had the opportunity to visit the San Francisco Food Bank (where the Hunger Challenge started) and am getting some ideas based on that experience and resources they provide to their clients. I'll definitely keep researching because I love that I've educated myself on how to make my own grocery budget better while still eating healthy! I'm also planning to integrate low-cost recipes more frequently on my blog once the challenge has come to a close. I hadn't thought about writing an article, but that would be an interesting endeavor! I'll have to think about what sort of publication would be a good fit.

  4. You can't ever tell what could happen. Maybe I'm a dreamer and I'm sure you're very busy but you could even contact some talk shows. Rosie O'donnell might be interested or Ellen Degeneres. Nate Berkus seems like a great guy and he might want to have a segment like this on his show. Just a thought. You did a very courageous thing and learned a lot that could be shared.