Friday, May 28, 2010

The Grocery Game: Where are my savings?

My friend, the one who got me into this Grocery Game, just finished her first month in this game and this month's grocery bill is $300 LESS than last month's.

That is just awesome.

I am frustrated! I am not seeing such savings! In fact, my grocery spending is pretty much in step with last month's spending (and average monthly spend). ARGH! This is frustrating. However, I do know that I don't follow the game 100%, but who does?? I see a bit of savings, but overall, not like my friend. Not even close.

Instead of discouraging me, this is just inspiring me to do better. The monthly spend just has to be trimmed! I would be beyond thrilled if we spent $300 less....there is so much we can do with an extra $, I am practically fantasizing about it now...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Grocery Game: Round 3

This is becoming obsessive. I now visit certain websites daily to scour the 'Net for coupons. I study the weekly grocery store circulars. I even created a new email address for myself where I direct all of the manufacturers' newsletters and promotions so that they don't clog up my inbox which is full of real mail.

Of the grocery trips that I have logged into my little spreadsheet, I have saved 37.6% of my grocery bill. NOT BAD. The only downside is that I haven't logged every shopping trip of mine...because I make a lot of little trips to buy things that I suddenly run out of, or foods for Shabbat that aren't on the Grocery Game lists, or other items (like kosher meats and cheeses). Nor did I log our trip to Costco (yes, we are members of that giant wonderland; that's another post). And Shavuot took place last week, so I feel like that has put a kink in our numbers.

But still. Hopefully the 37.6% that I saved officially was spent wisely somewhere else. :-)

Best deals to date:
Buy one, get one free of Renpro organic shampoo or conditioner at Walgreens, and if you pick up a bottle with the free trial tag (where you send in the tag and they send you a check for the purchase price), then it's really getting 2 bottles for free. NOT BAD.
Free barrettes at Walgreens. NOT BAD.
$10 gift card for sending in a receipt that showed that I bought $20 worth of Swiffer products.

Really - who wants to pay full price for anything anymore??

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Grocery Game: Round 2

I went to Randalls this past week at the start of the second week of the Grocery Game and I saved 39% off my bill. NOT BAD AGAIN. So far, my average is 34.6% saved on my grocery bill.

But here's the kicker. I am not counting the several run I had to Beldens and HEB. Beldens I go to because the eggs I buy are cheaper there, I buy my kosher meat and cheese there, and they have a few products that I can't get at other stores (like my fave brand of margarine). HEB I go to because it's right by my house, the bread flour and yeast I use are super-cheap there, and I pick up other staples.

The other problem I ran into this past week is that Shavuot hit in the middle, so I bought a bunch of items for meals that didn't fall into the Grocery Game budget. If I was smart, I would have kept all of those receipts, but that would be too painful. Not that I went crazy (and in fact, I would like to return some of the non-perishable products I ended up not using and not opening), but still, a 2-day holiday calls for nice meals. Now Sunday is upon us and once again I need to restock the fridge. Time to start making food from pantry staples again and get creative.

In hindsight, I probably should not have signed up for the Grocery Game trial when a holiday would hit, but oh well.

I also go to Target and utilize coupons there. The best coupons are for household and beauty products, and the best part about that is that Target's coupon policy allows for stacking a Target coupon with a manufacturer's coupon, so sometimes you can get a GREAT deal.

Another thing I do is scour the 'Net for coupons straight from the manufacturer's website, and these coupons don't show up on the coupon aggregator sites. My plan for this week is to come up with a list of all of the products that I use and their manufacturers (like Proctor and Gamble, Kikkoman, etc), and then I'll just go down the list and print out coupons as they appear.

Just trying to save money wherever I can...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

An evening with Joel Chasnoff

My husband and I just wrapped up a funny evening with comedian Joel Chasnoff. He's a friend of ours (long story) and he recently wrote a book about his experience in a combat unit in the Israeli army. He was in San Antonio yesterday (or maybe even today) and had some free time so we offered to put together an event for him to promote his book.

My husband found a nice hip coffee shop that gave us space (for free!) (in their driveway!) (outside!) and about 20 people showed up. It was a nice crowd! It actually ended up being a reunion of Washington University in St. Louis people (my alma mater), NASA employees, all of our friends - all in one crowd!

The book reading was quite nice and there were lots of questions afterwards, and a lot of shmoozing. We came home late for our curfew.

Find Joel's comedy clips on YouTube, and I encourage you to buy his book! It is laugh-out-loud funny and a different take on the Israeli army than you expect.

And the best part? We came home and my mom (who was with the kids) announced that our daughter PEED in her potty - not once, but THREE TIMES tonight. Which is nothing short of amazing because to date, she has yet to do it ONCE, but tonight she did it THREE TIMES. I cannot wait to stop buying diapers.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Grocery Game: Round 1

Heard of the Grocery Game? I was just introduced to it a few weeks ago. A friend of mine was using the free trial because her friend saved around $1000 over 3 months using this online resource. After saving coupons for a few weeks, I finally signed up for the free 28-day trial yesterday.

Here is how the Game works: A list is generated of all of the grocery deals, by store, that can be had for the week. The deals are advertised deals and un-advertised deals, and who knew, the best deals are Sunday - Tuesday. The magic of the Game is with the coupons; the List tells you which coupons to use to combine with the grocery sales so that you end up paying super low prices, or sometimes you get the item for free!

Can't beat that.

I'm just skeptical that there isn't so much for us on these lists; we don't buy nonkosher meat or cheeses, we don't buy a lot of packaged products, and we don't buy snacks. But - with a free trial, I have nothing to lose.

So Round 1 was today with the kids (not the best idea). I picked my store and with coupons in hand, I saved a total of 32% on my bill. And yes, these are all items that we need. Most of the savings are from toiletries, and there were a couple of items I bought not on sale (turkey meat, grapes), but almost everything else had some coupon or sale attached to it.

Stay tuned.

Monday, May 3, 2010


As you're probably aware, it's strawberry season. Which I love, since it's one of my favorite berries. So yesterday, for the second year in a row, we went strawberry picking.

Dear daughter was really excited about picking the strawberries; she says the word in a funny way that makes it just that much better. She got her own bucket and a set of instructions from Dad and off they went, down the row, picking shiny, red strawberries.

I followed behind with Cargo #2 in the stroller, who totally wanted to get in the dirt and was frustrated that he was strapped in.

After about 15 minutes, Dear Daughter wanted to be with me and so ended her strawberry-picking adventure. We made our way to the shady tree where there was a large wagon on which to sit and a swing set. And our snacks to eat.

We spent the rest of our time waiting for Dad to finish picking strawberries while we enjoyed the shade. Dad picked two bucket-fulls. I chatted with a couple who came to the farm 55 years ago to pick; they didn't know that people still pick every weekend. I watched a dad get pretty close to the end of his rope as he wasn't able to tear his little son away from the little red two-door car...for maybe 20 minutes, the dad called, "Hennnnnnry.....Hennnnnry - don't you want to go pick strawberries? Look, mommy is picking berries.....lets go....Hennnnnnry..." And the kid would get out of the car, close the door, the dad would breathe a sigh of relief, the kid would stand outside the car and say something unintelligible about continuing to play with the car. Watching the relief on the dad's face as the kid got out of the car, hopeful that they can now go, and then have all hopes be dashed as the kid got back into the car....was too painfully funny.

Afterwards, we went into the market and picked up a bunch of farm-fresh veggies. We only bought local produce, since I'm pretty sure I can get Florida green beans at my local store.

Dear dad and I were up until 1 am or so making jam with our strawberries....yes, jam. Which we tasted this morning. And it is very very tasty.