Money-Saving Grocery Shopping Tips

September 25, 2014


I mentioned in my September goals that we’ve been taking a closer look at our budget and finding new ways to save. One of the easiest ways I’ve found to save money in our monthly budget is to save while grocery shopping. Since eating healthy is extremely important to our family, I’m not willing to buy cheap food just to save a few dollars, but when I can find ways to save without sacrificing on quality, I’m all in.

Lately I’ve implemented a new routine for grocery shopping and saving money. Each week Joe and I have a budget of $100 to spend on groceries; however, groceries are lumped into a larger category that includes eating out and entertainment, so if I can save money on groceries it leaves room for more fun date nights and trips to Starbucks. Oh, and saving, too!

We usually shop for most of our groceries at Target, since there is a large, nice Super Target near our house. I’ve really been impressed with the increased number of organic and natural items offered under the Target house label, and the produce is almost always good quality. Occasionally I make a trip to Costco (about 2x/month) or Whole FoodsĀ to shop from their bulk bins and buy certain cuts of meat or specialty items I can’t find elsewhere.

1. Before I grocery shop, I sit down and make a list of what we have going on for the week, this includes nights we have plans to eat out, when we’ll be home later than usual, etc.

2. After I’ve looked at our week, I will plan what meals we’re going to have. This includes browsing my Pinterest board for inspiration and digging into the archives for old favorites. Sometimes Joe has a specific request, but usually he’s fine with anything I make. I also leave room for one night I label “pantry raid” that means we’ll eat leftovers, eggs and toast, mac and cheese, etc.

3. Once I’ve nailed down what we’re going to eat, I make my grocery list. Then, I go to Target.com and search through their coupons to see if they have coupons for anything on my grocery list. They almost always have a coupon for eggs, milk and a few other staples. Lately they’ve also found coupons for money off fruit and vegetable purchases, which I love! Searching only one coupon site saves time, since I’m not keen to browse 5 or 6 different sites. I just don’t have that kind of time!

4. After I’ve found coupons on Target.com, I go to my Ibotta app. This is a new app that I can’t recommend enough. It gives you cash back via Paypal just for buying groceries! They also have a referral program, so when you refer a friend, you get more money in your account. When you download the free app, you can select your favorite stores and search for deals. For example, this week I got $3 back for buying bread (any brand) eggs (any brand) Justin’s nut butter and Greek yogurt. I appreciate that the products they have listed are often either non-brand specific or higher in quality, including many natural and organic items.

When I first heard about this app, I thought it was too good to be true, but it’s the real deal. Many times to “unlock” a deal, you simply answer a question about how often you eat or purchase a product, or learn a quick fact about the product for which the coupon is offered. I love it! To sign up, download the Ibotta app from the app store.


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5. Finally, I check my Target Cartwheel app, cross-referencing what’s already on my grocery list with what discounts are available on Cartwheel. The app gives small discounts for buying certain products (usually 5 to 10%) listed. It’s not a lot, but it’s quick and it adds up.

When I’m making my list I also note now much of a Cartwheel discount I’ll get on the product. That way when I’m at the store I can compare and make sure that buy that specific brand associated with the Cartwheel discount actually makes financial sense. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t! For example, last week there was a 20% discount for a particular brand of beans but even with the cartwheel discount it was still cheaper to buy the house brand without a discount.

I think that about sums up how I’ve been shopping and saving lately. It’s amazing how many little things add up to really big things, which I love. Plus, saving money feels like a game or challenge to me, which keeps it fun instead of cumbersome.

How do you save while grocery shopping? Anything I’m missing from this list? I would love to hear!

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  • Reply DessertForTwo September 25, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    I’m the one that does the budgeting in our house, and I’m pretty obsessed with tracking our food purchases. I aim to stay at <$75/week for the two of us. We are part of a CSA that costs $55/week, so that leaves me $20 for stuff from the regular store. I'm not the best at this budget. I like your cash system. But, I'm not one of those girls that likes to spend money on anything else, so don't limit my food budget please, haha!
    I'm going to download this app and give it a try. But, you said if you refer a friend, you get money. Is there a way that you can refer me so that you can get the bonus points? Text me šŸ˜‰

  • Reply Courtney September 25, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    I use Ibotta too along with another similar app- Checkout 51. Offers get updated every Wed. at midnight (you have to purchase and redeem in the 1 week the offers are available) and you take a picture of your receipt to redeem. You don’t have to “unlock” anything ahead of time and it’s not store-specific. They usually have a few non-brand-specific things at the top (this week it’s $0.50 on yogurt, $0.25 on apples, –I’ve seen eggs, milk, bananas, bread, tortilla chips, etc.) and then several branded items. You do have to reach $20 to cash out. The nice thing is that you can use this on top of any other discounts (ibotta, Cartwheel, or coupons). https://www.checkout51.com/

  • Reply Sarah Kuiper September 25, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    I just got the Ibotta app! looks awesome!

  • Reply Kelsey Spencer September 25, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    Wow I’ve never heard of this app but I will definitely be downloading it. I will try to do it so you get the referral points. I’m moving very close to a Super Target and am planning on giving grocery shopping there a try and will have to give your grocery shopping method a try šŸ™‚

    One other thing to mention about Target is that if you have their credit card you get an addition 5% off all of your purchases!

    • Reply Kelsey Spencer September 25, 2014 at 2:51 pm

      What’s your referral code?

      • Reply MadisonMayberry September 25, 2014 at 3:53 pm

        The referral code is djesura. Thanks for asking! And I totally forgot to mention that we use the Target Debit card for an additional 5%. Great addition! šŸ™‚

  • Reply Brindi September 25, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    This is EXACTLY what we do! And our budget is $100 a week for groceries as well. We are quite blessed to have a local’s farmer’s market/farm that’s open a few times a week right down the road from us which is where I buy our produce. For other items I shop at Aldi’s (mainly) or Marc’s/Target (occasionally). What’s left over (if any) I usually put aside for a once a month Trader Joe’s re-stock/splurge since the closest one is an hour away. But I do like the idea of placing the grocery budget and in the same overall budget for other things and using the extra for eating out (which we might do 3 times a month) and Starbucks šŸ™‚

  • Reply Rachel {the avid appetite} September 25, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    thanks for the tip on this app! i will need to check that out and give it a try!

  • Reply Corinne September 25, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    thank you for sharing this app! I’m off to download it now! I like the others am curious if you have a referral code so I can make sure to give the kudos to you!

    • Reply MadisonMayberry September 25, 2014 at 3:53 pm

      Hi Corinne! The referral code is djesura. Thanks for asking!

  • Reply taylor @ greens & chocolate September 25, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    Oooh I’m definitely checking out that app! I love meal planning and grocery shopping so I love hearing others methods šŸ™‚

  • Reply Laura @ Real Home Living September 25, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    I have not heard of the Ibotta app but it sounds amazing! I’m downloading it right now. I use Cartwheel too, and sometimes you can get some awesome deals on there! Love grocery shopping at Target for that reason. Also, if you have the Red Card, you get 5% off every time automatically šŸ™‚ thanks for sharing!

  • Reply allisonramsing September 25, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    I’m downloading Ibotta now hopefully you’ll get the referral points! Thanks for the recommendation. Shopkick is also pretty amazing too!

  • Reply Jessica Polley September 25, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    Thanks for telling us about that app! I’ve been using Checkout51 but the offerings are so limited that it’s adding up at a snails pace. I think I have been wasting my time.

  • Reply Rachel September 25, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    I do just about the same thing! I ask my boyfriend Joe if he has any requests, but he loves my cooking (even though I suck at it) but whatever šŸ™‚ I also search Target for coupons and always use Cartwheel, even if I only save a little bit. And THANK you for introducing me to this app! I have also been using Checkout51 (as Jessica said below)… and I got back about $10 in my first few runs, but one run was a bunch of cleaning products, now I am slowly, very slowly, adding up to $20. This sounds like a much better way to save some extra money!

  • Reply Heather @ My Overflowing Cup September 25, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    I am a lot like you, Madison, in that I want to eat well, but on a budget. I also see saving money as a game and a challenge. I don’t use apps for my grocery shopping, but I’m glad to know that there is an option I may want to look into. Saving money on groceries is a big deal for me, so I appreciate the info. Thanks!

  • Reply Abby September 28, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    I just used this app — thanks for the tip!

  • Reply natalie s. September 29, 2014 at 11:39 pm

    We use coupons.com (love their search by brand feature), Target coupons, and the Cartwheel app. I had Ibotta downloaded, but I found that everything offered there was not what we buy (especially on Whole 30 ā€” yikes!). Might need to check back into once we’re done with this.

  • Reply Ashlen Mathew September 30, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    I’ve been using Ibotta for a couple weeks now….it’s so easy to use and definitely is the real deal! I’m glad to see it’s catching on with other people too.

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