Friday, March 18, 2011

Thrifty Thursday: My Grocery Planning

(Yes, this is called Thrifty Thursday....but it took me a couple of days to compile, so you're getting it on Friday.  Hopefully some of you weekend shoppers can still make use of it since Kroger's deals run Monday through Sunday around central Ohio.  Also, you'll be glad it took me a few days since I found some unadvertised freebies in the March to Savings Event!)

I thought I would walk through my process for grocery planning with you all so you can see how I generally do things.  And if you have any suggestions to make the process better, please let me know!

First I look at our meal list from the previous week and see if there's anything we didn't eat and if all the ingredients are still good.  If we didn't eat a meal, we'll usually have it early the next week and I'll pick up any replacement ingredients if necessary.

Next I look around at foods that we have that will be spoiling soon and consider how I can use them in a meal.  Sometimes it's something as small as sour cream, sometimes it's meat, sometimes it's produce. 

Then I go to the Kroger website to view their weekly ad.  I know some people aren't convinced that Kroger is better than Giant Eagle, but it works for us.  The fuel perks work better for us and the food is definitely cheaper for the things that we buy.  If I wanted to do shopping at more than one store (which I'll do for a great sale), I'd probably hit up Aldi.  But with my time being valuable as well, I usually just shop at Kroger.

When looking at the weekly ad, I first look for meat deals.  This week (3/14-3/20) Kroger has the following meats on sale:

As I'm looking at the meats, I realize Kroger is running (another) promo where you buy a certain number of items and get a dollar amount off your order immediately.  This time it's buy 10 items and get $5, essentially taking $0.50 off each item when you buy any factor of 10.  When I see promos like this, I usually seek out a blog that covers Kroger deals because they've already done the coupon match-ups for the promo.  I look for things I use on a regular basis (no use paying for something you won't use) or for items that are free or money-makers. 

Here is the blog I typically use for my Kroger deals: Deal Seeking Mom (sometimes her prices differ from mine, so I've started comparing my ad to the prices she lists)

These are the best deals that I've found for this coming week:

FREE after coupons and instant savings (the price I list is BEFORE coupons or instant savings):

Ronzoni Healthy Harvest, San Giorgio, or Smart Taste Pasta: $0.99
Coupons: $1/2 printable  HERE and HERE
               $1/2 SS 1/23/11

Pedigree Dog Food: $0.99
B2G1 printable coupon on
BOGO RP 3/6/11
The “free” price when entering coupons should be $0.99. So you could use one BOGO: $1.98 for two - $0.99 = $0.99 then subtract $0.50 for each item for the promotion and you actually make $0.02.

Dole Fruit Crisps: $1.99
$0.75/1 SS 1/9/11

(And here are these unadvertised freebies)

Heluva Good Dips: $1.49
Printable coupon HERE for $0.50/1

Frank's Red Hot (12 oz): $1.99
$0.75/1 SS 1/23/11
Printable coupon HERE for $0.50/1 (this would make the final price $0.49)

Cheap (remember to take $0.50 off the price when you buy 10 participating items):

Rice a Roni or Pasta Roni: $1.29
B3G1 RP 1/2/11
$0.27 ea when you buy 4 after coupon and instant savings

Hershey’s Pieces, Drops, or Reese’s Minis Candy (The Hubby loves these): $2.49
$2/2 SS 1/30/11
$0.99 ea when you buy 2 after coupon and instant savings

Dannon Yogurt: $1.99
$1 DanActive SS 3/6/11

Philadelphia Cooking Crème: $2.49
$1.50 SS 3/6/11

Bumble Bee Tuna Pouch: $0.99

Annie’s Mac & Cheese: $0.99

Del Monte Tomatoes: $1.19

Tombstone Pizza: $2.99

Fuze, Vitamin Water, SmartWater: $0.99

Powerade: $1


Voskos Yogurt (found in the Organic section): $1.69 regular price
$0.75 printable on

Kroger Frozen Veggies: $1 (I have seen these for $0.88 each, but this is a decent price--regular price is $1.19, I think)

A lot of these items are more for snacks, but I make note of the Philadelphia Cooking Creme and all the pasta and will keep those in mind when determining a meal plan for the week.

The last thing I look for in the ad is produce.  Meat and produce drive my meal plans for the week (although I'm currently at the point where our deep freezer is full of meat so I'll only buy it if it's on a crazy sale or I find some on manager's special).  The best produce deal I found was red, yellow, and orange bell peppers for $1.25 apiece. 

Now I take all the pieces I have--look at the cheapest meats, cheapest produce, what I have in my kitchen already, and formulate a plan.  If I really want to use up something but don't know how, I visit All Recipes and use their Ingredient Search to find meals using my ingredients.  You can save recipes in a recipe box there as well.

Edited to add:  I forgot to mention that once I have my grocery list in place, I go to Coupon Mom and look for coupons from any brand for the items I need to make my meals and clip or print the necessary coupons.
Once it's made, I'll post my grocery list and my meal plan for the week (this time before Monday) so you can see how it all comes together.  

How do you do your groceries and meal plans?  What do you think of my preferred method?  Any suggestions for improvement?
Has it been helpful to see Kroger's deals?  I go through them weekly, so would it help you for me to compile them here?


hannah said...

how much time do you spend on grocery planning? i am in awe of your money saving skills and want to be like you, but i don't think i can find the time! how do you do it?

Cassie said...

Okay, seriously. Could you plan my meals for me? You seem so organized with it and you clearly save so much money. I really wish I had the time to get this involved in the process!

I honestly don't do much beyond check what meats are on sale at Kroger. I typcially form my meal plan around that.

I am seriously in awe of you!!!