A few weeks ago I discovered a show called "Extreme Couponing". Have you seen it? These families of 5-10 people have high grocery bills, but they use BOGO free sales, manufacture's coupons, and store sales to get like $600 worth of groceries for like $7.20. It's extreme!
I decided to at least try to do BOGO free at Walmart. Every week I go though the junk mail ads. that come from the local grocery stores. Most of the time Walmart has the cheapest prices, so I don't bother to "price match" from local grocery stores, but I WILL bring in the BOGO free ads! This week I spent $180 for groceries that will last me 9 days (kind of a lot for my usual…but we had done just "bare necessities" grocery trips the past two trips, so I had to get things like buttons and thread, etc. that I normally get once in a blue moon.) I have created an Excel sheet that lists, in columns, the coupons/ BOGO free deals that I have on hand. I'll make my menu for the week/ two weeks, then look through my Excel sheet and see if there are coupons I can use. I then kind of adjust my menu accordingly. There were several BOGO free ads. I used this week! Here's are all the items I got for free this shopping trip, simply by taking 20 minutes to go through the junk mail ads. and clip them out.
canned tomatoes $1.65
jarred spaghetti sauce $3.69
salad dressing $3.69 + had a $0.50 manufacture's coupon
kielbasa sausage $4.39
20 oz box of cereal $4.79
Frito's chips $3.49
shredded cheese $3.99
medium sized tortillas $2.79
shampoo $3.00 off manufacture's coupon
Total value of free food goods: $40.36
So yeah, I basically got $40 worth of food for free, simply by trying something new!
1) It will take you a good 30-45 minutes to get through the checkout lane at Walmart…and you have to watch everything the cashier rings up so you know that you're actually getting the deal.
2) If you live in a small apartment (like I do) storage of unopened/ extras of food items is an issue. I hate to have a full fridge where you have to take everything off the shelves just to reach the pickles that you put way in the back like 6 days ago. I also hate to have things fall out of the cabinets at me (who doesn't?) Sooo…you have to get a little creative with your food storage. If at all possible, consolidate bags/bottles/containers of thing same thing. If you really do not have room in your pantry (we don't even have a pantry…just a few cabinets in the kitchen) then you can always use some mixing bowls/ baskets you have lying around the house, stick them on top of the fridge, and use that as extra storage. It looks a little messy, but it still will be organized. For example, I have a bag of potatoes in one bowl, fruit in another, our breads/bagels/tortillas in another basket, and some onions in a mixing bowl. No one ever seems to mind that there are random, easy to reach foods on top of my fridge, and I certainly don't mind. It frees up my counters, and cabinets. I use my cabinets to store my extras that I get on these BOGO free deals.
3) If you are a family of 2, and don't have 12 ravishing kids, you have to eat the food before it goes bad. With things like bread, that can be a little more of a challenge. (Bread and tortillas freeze really well, in a pinch, FYI!) The way to avoid having food spoil is to I plan your meals around the items you know you will get for free. For example, we're having spaghetti 3 times in two weeks, because I got 2 jars of spaghetti sauce, and 2 sausages using my BOGO deals this week. Additionally, I'm making homemade frozen beef, bean, and cheese burritos. I got 2 packs of tortillas (10 count each), and knew they probably wouldn't stay fresh for the 3 weeks it would take us to eat them. So, I bought a bag of pinto beans, cooked them in the crockpot all day, and then assembled the burritos. So much cheaper and healthier than the frozen kinds you buy at the gas station! If you are eating and using the items you got for free, then you don't have to store them for very long! I've found that it's actually cheaper if you repeat 1-2 meals a week, and then also have some for lunch leftovers too.
Hope this post inspires you to use some coupons and/or BOGO free deals on your groceries! The trick is to make your menu and shopping list before looking through your coupons, otherwise you will be tempted to get something just because it's on sale, or BOGO free, when you never were thinking of buying it in the first place. Happy couponing! :)