Food costs continue to rise. It is winter time, and Farmers’ Markets will not open again until May. Extreme weather has damaged crops in warmer climates in the U. S., yet I still strive to purchase products grown in America. The HH has worked from home for three months (normally he is only home 2 1/2 days a week), and we are eating in a more healthy way. All of these factors have caused our food spending to rise dramatically lately.
In the past, I have prided myself on my ability to keep food costs at a level well below the average for households of a similar size, despite the fact that we do not have the ability to have a garden at present. As I’ve reviewed our recent food spending, it is apparent that I must knuckle down and watch spending. If not, I may blow our food budget in 2014, which would be the first time since the hubby and I have been married.
While saving money, especially on food expenditures, is a common topic, here are some of the strategies I use.
- Digital coupons, clipped, coupons, or printed coupons (I use the different types of coupons in the order listed)
- Watching weekly sale adds
- Using mobile apps to find deals
- Using Ibotta to get cash back when purchases are made in brick and mortar stores
- Using ebates when ordering items online
- Looking for restaurant deals on sites such as Groupon or Living Social
- Purchase an annual Entertainment book (on sale and with free shipping ONLY)
- Purchase gift cards at stores that offer points to give as gifts or use for yourself when it is money you would spend anyway at the stores or restaurants
- Earning cash back from our credit card company if we use our card to pay for food
- Earning air miles when paying for food when dining out on cards associated with dining rewards accounts
- Earn points to reduce fuel cost
Using any of these strategies to save money will help, but it is when one is able to combine several of these tools in a single transaction that one will get the most bank for his or her buck.
Today, I went to Kroger to pick up a few things I’d left off my list yesterday. New sales went into effect today, so I had opportunities I did not have yesterday that worked in my favor. One of the things I failed to put on yesterday’s list was toilet tissue. Cottonelle, which is normally $7.49 for a 12-roll pack at Kroger, was on sale for $5.49. On the package was a manufacturer’s coupon for $1.50 off two packages of Cottonelle. In addition, Kroger had a promotion where items marked and bought in mix or match groups of six received another 50 cents off each item. As I went through the store, it seemed that almost everything on my list was one of the items included in the extra discount offer. More than that, four of the items I needed were included in Ibotta rebate offers.
How did I come out? (all prices are before sales tax)
- Each 12-roll package of Cottonelle (regularly $7.49) was purchased for $4.24.
- Jamba Juice smoothie mix (regularly $3.49) was purchased for $2.49, and I got a $1.00 rebate from Ibotta, so the net cost was $1.49.
- Bag of Ore Ida Simply Fries (regularly $3.99) was purchased for $2.49, and I got a $.75 rebate from Ibotta, so the net cost was $1.74.
- Two cans of Simple Truth beans (regularly $1.00 each) were purchased for $1.00 with an e-coupon of a $1.00 when purchasing two cans.
I could continue, but there is no need; you get the idea.
Now, consider that using my cash-back credit card, when the credit card balance is paid in full each month, I am being paid to shop and use our credit card.
Finally, Kroger gives me fuel points – 1 point for every dollar spent, and these points are used to reduce the price of gasoline in 10 cent increments. The most I have ever used when filling my car is 1,000 points for $1.00 off each gallon of gas I pumped, but I had that many points because Kroger was offering 4x the usual fuel points when purchasing gift cards. At the moment, I could fill my car with gas and pay 30 cents less per gallon than the going rate.
How do you save money on food costs? Hopefully, I’ve given you some ideas you have not read or heard before.