I am still learning when it comes to cutting back our grocery bills. Over the past few years I have taught myself how to make my own bread, laundry detergent, canned goods, and many other things from scratch. Where most people pay $5 for a decent loaf of whole grain bread at the store… I pay less than $0.50 a loaf by grinding my own wheat and buying ingredients like yeast in bulk. Instead of spending $10 on a gallon of laundry detergent that does 72 loads, I can my my own gallon of dry laundry detergent that does hundreds of loads for about $7.
But it’s not enough. With the way grocery prices are skyrocketing (~30% increase in the last 10 years), it only makes sense to keep seeking ways to save. After all, how many of us have had our wages increase 30% in proportion in that time? Not us, that’s for sure!
So lately I have started really pursuing ad matches. I take a look at all the printed store ads for every grocer within 60 miles of where we shop (mostly in Marinette, Wisconsin) and I make detailed lists to follow on every shopping trip. Here are some examples from ads I used this week:
- Avocados $0.49 each
- 16 oz Kraft singles 2/$4.00
- Gala apples $0.99/lb
- 2 lb C&H brown sugar or powdered sugar $1.89 each
- Barilla pastas 12-16oz 4/$5.00
- Nature Valley 6-12 ct granola bars $2.50
- Nutrigrain bars $2.50 each
Festival Foods (Green Bay East) – http://www2.festfoods.com/WeeklyAd/Store/2766/_SS_48AT9R0EB7C1418P7261B716WIuN6L53FC7BA0%7C235124%7C1408221124%7C%7C%7C
- Bananas $0.28/lb
- Bartlett pears $0.98/lb
- 16oz JIF peanut butter $1.49
- Hunts ketchup 24oz $0.78
- Hunts snack pack pudding 4 packs $0.78
- 8oz Kraft shredded cheeses $1.98
It may not seem like much alone, but if I use ad matching to stock up on essentials one at a time, it’s adding up to be quite the savings. I just bought 12 pounds of peanut butter for $17.88 when I normally get 5 pounds for $11.62. At the normal price, 12 pounds would have cost $27.89 – ten dollars more. Ouch! I’m thankful I make my own jelly because I couldn’t see spending the $5 a jar they ask for at the store. Holy cow! I pay maybe $0.50 a jar, and make at least two years at a time so I won’t run dry. We eat a lot of pb&j’s here!
By using ad matching, I am able to cut some prices over half. It’s like getting a buy one get one free. So instead of stocking up slowly as some prepper sites recommend (for example, when you do normal shopping, buy two instead of the one you need, and sock away the extra one) I am able to buy twice as much and stock up twice as fast. We now have enough peanut butter and ketchup to last the next six months. Since we only have room for about 6 months worth of food on our shelving system in the basement, I try not to stock up further than that. (Aside from my wheat berries and whole grains that I buy by the bucket. Those don’t go on the shelves, so I stock a year at a time for those.) Someday we’ll build more shelving. Maybe even as soon as this winter.
It gives me a good feeling to know that I am not only saving money, but stocking up for the future as well. Combined with our efforts on the homestead, we should be able to feed our family even if something bad were to happen. I’m not talking end of the world stuff, but normal things like job loss and injury. We’ve been through it already. We’ve had to rely on family and friends for help. We don’t want to be put in that situation ever again. I can’t wait until we have our own meat in the freezer – that will be a huge saver.
Ad matching varies seasonally as well. I know that around Thanksgiving I’ll find the best ad matches for bulk sugar, flour, and other baking essentials. Fall is the best time for buying bulk apples. Mid-summer is the best time for peaches. After Christmas is usually a good time for meats. At least in our area – these fluctuations may not apply everywhere.
Savings and food security go hand in hand. What are you doing to lower your grocery bill and stock up? Tell me about it in the comments. If you write a blog, leave a link to your similar article(s).