Frugal Friday--Grocery Gaming, Part Three (PREMIUM Plan)

8:23 AMHeather

So, you tackled the shopping by sales circular--and you've clipped a few coupons. And, your quest for savings has yet to be satisfied. You have yet to feel truly challenged. Here you go--the PREMIUM plan! This is my plan for the intense and the committed. This plan might be for you if:

(1) you desire to cut your spending and your cost
(2) not only do you desire to cut your spending but you want to do everything within your power to pinch every penny
(3) you are able to carve out a fair amount of time (say 3-4 hours) each week to planning and working on cutting costs
(4) you are comfortable with the idea of couponing and learning every method possible to cut costs

The How To's--step by step
1. Complete the steps of the basic plan and the deluxe plan.

2. You are ready to add in the step of an online data base, such as Grocery Game or Coupon Mom. In a nutshell, these are data bases that you subscribe to for a weekly list of all valid coupons (paper, e-coupons, etc) matched with the sales ads of your chosen store to guide your shopping so that you get the best deals possible.

3. I use the Grocery Game, which charges a small bimonthly fee depending on how many stores you subscribe to. Coupon Mom is free, and although I haven't used it, some friends of mine have and like it. Other regions of the country may have other options for you if you do a little research. You just need to look at the websites and decide which one feels most user friendly and if you are comfortable paying a small fee for this service.

4. Important thing is to know about the TIMING of this. Grocery stores run their sales from Tuesday through Tuesday, and coupons come out in the Sunday paper. Grocery Game posts their new lists on Saturday night. So to use the list for the the ads with the coupons, you need to be able to shop between Sunday and Tuesday.

5. Important idea to know about Grocery Gaming. The idea is to take full advantage of the sales ad cycles and the coupon cycles. So, you are working to stockpile with these great discounts. After 12 weeks of Grocery Gaming, you will have run through these cycles and should have a good stockpile. After that, you should only need to purchase necessities and great deals.

6. Once you decide which website database you want to use, you need to register with that site, choosing your store, creating a log-in, etc.

7. Now you have your database! So, each week, you will log in and look through the lists, marking which items you intend to purchase. Both websites have features to do this, along with features to sort your selected items and then print your list. Your list will tell you the item brand and name, the usual price, the specific coupons to clip, and the reduced price. I go through it a second time before I print it--just to be sure that I really need and want those items. The longer I Grocery Game, the more I challenge myself to go only with deeply discounted items as my stockpile is built.

8. Here is MY specific process to prep each week for Grocery Gaming.
--Step One: Make my grocery list. I go through my kitchen writing down necessities.
--Step Two: Then, I add on the items from the Grocery Game list.
--Step Three: I double check my sales ad to clarify meat and produce sales, as well as any other sales I might NEED for that week that may not have shown up on my Grocery Game list.
--Step Four: I clip my coupons for that week, adding them to my accordian file (I sort by item category such as dairy, canned goods, frozen items, and so on).
--Step Five: I pull my coupons according to the items I need as well as the Grocery Game list of coupons to use. I place them in a large paper clip and attach to my list.

--Ready, set, SHOP! I shop by my grocery list, but carry my Grocery Game list with me to help me clarify the size and quantity of the items. I also keep the sales ad with me in case I have a question about something, or the sales price is not posted in the store.

9. It can feel a little overwhelming at first. There is definitely a learning curve. I made this easier for myself by only grocery shopping at the store of my choice. Some people do multiple stores in their Grocery Game subscription. But, that does not work for me. I just chose the store that I like that also doubles and triples coupons. And, by the way--I did a poll of friends who I know Grocery Game to help me decide which store I'd use. Ask someone who Grocery Games to help walk you through it as you go. Over time, it will become easier and your savings will become greater. You will need less for your stockpile, and you will learn just how LOW the prices can be, so you'll become choosier about waiting for the sales and coupons you know will come.

10. Other bonus step: Buy from the clearance sections and when possible combine coupons there! I buy nearly all my meat on clearance and then freeze it. I will no longer pay more than $5 for a package of meat for my family. I've learned that I can get an 8 pound brisket, a large package of ribs, or a turkey for about $8-9. When I find these, I freeze them and am ready to cook for company.

11. Random other thoughts: Grocery Gaming is work. Yet, when you are in the groove, it also cuts down on your work. I grocery shop weekly, and am in and out in an hour or less. I used to shop less often and it took much longer. I can make my list, print my Grocery Game list and add those items to my list, clip my coupons and then pull the necessary ones in about 1-2 hours. It's a great feeling to not run out of things. I don't have to run to the store usually more than my weekly trip. Also, we have a bit of a stockpile, so we use what we have. I've found the internet to be very helpful when I am planning dinner. I'll type in ground turkey+canned tomatoes and see what pops up! I no longer do elaborate meal planning--I just do something quick, easy and healthy based on the ingredients on hand.

INTENTIONAL challenge: Whew! I know it feels like a lot to take in. Trust me, I avoided this forever because it scared me. But, with the help of a good friend walking me through it, I was able to get the hang of it in a way that works for me. And, it truly does make me feel great to know how much I've cut our grocery bill. I can feed my very HUNGRY family of 5 for about $400 a month or less--including feeding our Life Group every other month and hosting out-of-town guests. Will you look into it and give it a try? You can do a free Grocery Game trial--so give yourself a few weeks and see what happens!

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