Sunday, April 19, 2009

"My Mama Told Me, 'You Better Shop Around'"

Yeah, corny title I know, but I couldn't resist it!

So somewhere along the line I will address coupon clipping, filing, etc. but even I must admit that topic is well-worn in the papers, blogs, websites and so on. I want to address what I think is even more important (although it can be even better when you use the coupons along with this practice!).

In my Phoenix neighborhood, there are a wide range of supermarkets: Safeway, Fry's, Trader Joe's, AJ's Fine Foods, Basha's, Albertson's, Whole Foods, Fresh & Easy and other newcomers that offhand I am not yet familiar enough with to name. Every Wednesday, at least four of these chains include inserts in our daily newspaper offering store-specific coupons, special deals and extra-special deals for club card members.

OK, so maybe I need a life, but I really look forward to Wednesdays and absolutely plan my grocery shopping around these circulars! I first look at what I am stocked up on, what I am short of and make note of any special occasions (potlucks, holidays, birthdays, school or volunteer bake know the drill!). I make a grocery list of what I plan to buy and then read carefully through each store's insert. I identify the best deals on what I need and set up my list by store. If I list an item under one and then find it for a better price or deal elsewhere, I shift the item to that store. I will also indicate on the list how many of each item I need and if I have a coupon for the sale item as well. (NOTE: if a store provides their own coupon, typically you can also use a manufacturer's coupon IN ADDITION to their coupon - double the fun!)

And then there are the added benefits that you sometimes see in the circulars - "triple coupons," "quadruple coupons," or "will accept all competitors' coupons" - Jackpot! If you juggle all of these offers correctly you can get an amazing amount of shopping done for surprisingly little cash! (My all-time favorite is Basha's "Buy One-Get Two Free" offer on various items - cases of water, meat, etc.)

One word of caution; you need to take into consideration how far you have to drive to get to the stores with the deals. In my area, Safeway, Trader Joe's and Fry's are all within 1/2 mile of my house. Basha's is about 3 miles away and Albertson's about 10 miles. I will only hit Basha's or Albertson's if the deal is amazing or is a hard-to-find item (i.e. monkfish...really tough to find in AZ!).

Happy Hunting!

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