Playing the Grocery Game

How much do you spend on groceries per month? Looking over past credit card bills our grocery expenses in 2006 were between $500 and $800 per month. It’s shocking.

I didn’t think I was that careless with spending. I shopped at a grocery store that claimed to have the lowest prices in town. I would look for sale items and buy only the items we really needed. There was one thing I didn’t do—clip coupons.

Then in August, a friend told me about The Grocery Game. The Grocery Game claims it can help you save hundreds of dollars a month on groceries. It’s an online database that tracks manufacturers’ coupons along with the grocery store’s weekly sales and specials.

To play The Grocery Game, you have to clip coupons from your Sunday’s paper. Each Tuesday a new list is posted on the website, telling you which items are the best deals to buy. So for example, Orville Redenbacher popcorn is on the list…

The original price: $2.99
The sale price: 3/$5 (or $1.67 each)
Manufacturer’s coupon from the 12/3 insert: 50 cents (it gets doubled up to $1)
Total price for popcorn: 67 cents (that’s 78% off the original price)

Sometimes items end up being free. It’s pretty cool!

In my area, you can get a list for Meijer and Kroger. The list isn’t free. It costs $10 every 8 weeks. They offer a 4 week trial period for only $1.

So am I saving hundreds? I’m getting there. The first few weeks, I didn’t notice a grand drop in grocery expenses. But now, I’m happy to report our grocery bills are getting under control. Last month’s bill totaled $400. I may be paying $10 for the membership and $8.88 a month for the Sunday newspaper. But I think it’s worth it.

3 thoughts on “Playing the Grocery Game

  1. Anonymous says:

    The Grocery Game is a great resource. Here are some of my tips:

    –Build your meal plans around what’s on sale (use the circulars to plan). This will complement your Grocery Game efforts.

    –Set a budget ($50/week for 2 people). This helps me sort out the “needs” from the “wants”. It took me several weeks, but I got used to working within limits. I also use cash as extra incentive to stay in my budget.

    –Cook in bulk from basic ingredients, use convenience foods when necessary, and freeze leftovers.

    –Cut out name brands in general, especially name brand snacks.

    –Shop alone to stay focused and reduce impulse buys.

    The Dollar Stretcher also has a lot of tips on reducing grocery bills (

    Good luck in your efforts! Keeping a close eye on grocery bills is one of the best way to reduce monthly household expenditures.

  2. Thanks for the tips! Saving money is hard work. I definitely need to shop alone. My husband went with me on the last trip and we ended up spending more than I wanted. Ugh. I wish Miller and Anheuser-Busch offered coupons.

  3. My ideas for lowering grocery costs are a bit different than what is posted here, but they’ve proven to be effective and healthy.

    1. Avoid spending too much energy on coupons.
    -They tend to be associated with more expensive, processed and salt-laden foods.
    -They consume time (searching for the coupons/searching for the items in the stores/etc. Time is money for working moms.

    2. Check out Consumer’s report for ratings on things like detergent and other household products. Some of Walmarts brands outperform name brands for a fraction of the cost. Load up your basket to the brim with several bottles, buy and come home. (Walmart also has cheap cereal!) You’re now done for a few weeks/months.

    3. Invest in a few key knives (tomato knife and large chopping knife with little indentations on sides). (Use coupons because they’re nearly $100 each). Also, purchase a really good kitchen shears.

    4. Decrease the amount of processed food you buy and substitute with more fruits/veggies. Use your wonderful knives to make quick work of the prep. Serve the them in place of starches at dinner. (e.g. Banana wheels instead of mashed potatoes).

    5. Use Sundays as prep days, with emphasis on washing/chopping fruits/veggies for use throughout week. The reason this saves money is because we used to buy produce with the great intention of using it, but a lot went to waste. (I used to do meals in advance, but this approach gives me more flexibility).

    6. Roast your veggies. Try asparagus or green beans or even brussel sprouts. The roasting changes the flavor via carmelization. Use a little oil, put them on a cookie sheet for 20 min at 400.

    7. Determine what are your “workhorse” foods (multi-purpose) and buy them in bulk. Mine are flour tortillas, frozen dinner rolls, oyster crackers, rice. Put together a list of the items you can make using these as a primary or secondary ingredient.

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