Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I Paid 17 Cents for a Big Bag of Groceries - No Lie!

I used to be a coupon grocery shopper just like my mother and her mother before me.

Then Husband took over the cooking. Husband cooks from scratch. You know from items that don’t have coupons, like fresh vegetables and big boxes of pasta?

My coupon use dwindled. After cooking this way and shopping accordingly I started saving just as much or more money because I wasn’t buying expensive prepackaged, full of sodium, high waste food just because I had a coupon, sometimes even when the store brand was cheaper.

The final nail in the coupon clipping coffin is when I discovered that I could save more money shopping for my staples at Aldi, Trader Joe’s, and my summer farm market – three stores that don’t accept coupons.

Of course, you mileage may vary.

Now I’m totally out of the habit of clipping, tracking, and using coupons before they expire. In fact, on those few times when I remember that I have a coupon for something, and want to use it, more often that not it’s expired.

Some women make the coupon thing work for them. Tara over at Deal Seeking Mom makes couponing an art form. She tracks coupons and rebates, restocks only when she has a coupon, plays the CVS game, etc. I have to give a big tip of the hat to women like her who can buy $100 worth of groceries for like 10 bucks after coupons and rebates.

I never knew how they did it, until now. I ended up with a bunch of coupons for free items from various summer events and whatnot. I was bound and determined (especially in this economy) to use those coupons before they expire.

I ended up at Giant Eagle because they carried all of the things I had coupons for. Since this was a side shopping trip and not a real “hey we need groceries” trip I decided to get only the stuff I had free coupons for which came to $42.48.

I handed over my fist full of coupons to the cashier. I was nervous about handing over so many coupons at once. I hoped they didn’t think I was trying to pull a fast one on them. I wasn’t. I was just being cheap. The cashier gave me the stink eye as she worked her way through all of my coupons because there were a lot of them.

But it paid off.

Big time.

I end up paying 17 cents for a huge bag of groceries!

For sales tax.

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17 cents people.

Here’s the haul:

12 organic Stonyfeld Greek Style yogurts (I always wanted to try this stuff. I got my chance. It’s yummy!)

2 organic Ragu spaghetti sauces (We usually make our own sauce.)

1 reduced fat Weight Watchers yogurt (I usually buy big tub o’ plain yogurt and flavor it with fruit or jelly. Pre-flavored yogurt was a treat!)

1 Milky Way candy bar (An addiction of mine that goes way back. I try to keep that in check by avoiding vending machines…let's pretend I'm successful at this shall we?)

1 carton of Tropicana orange juice (I usually get concentrate packaged in a recyclable cardboard and metal tube.)

1 Tide Stain Release Stain Fighter (Think oxygen bleach with added petrochemical stain fighters) that may or not make me break out into a rash (out which happens when my clothes have been washed in Tide detergent in the past.) I’m willing to risk this because of price (Hi Recession!) even though I’m not thrilled about some of the ingredients. If it doesn’t work for me, I know someone who uses it. I’ll give it to them.

Fortunately, I can recycle everything except the candy bar wrapper and the plastic wrap around the stain stuff. Good thing. Most of these items are higher waste treats than I normally buy.

Still even with the higher waste treats, I’m giddy about the 17 cents thing because it will never happen again in my lifetime.

Ever.

I generally stick to store brands. You know the ones that are cheaper even if you have a coupon for the name brand equivalent? And sometimes I just like the store brand better. Like generic corn chips. I don’t know what it is, but I like the generic ones better than the real live name brand corn chips -  maybe that’s just me. And irony of ironies, the generic corn chip doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup in it (something I try to avoid) unlike the name brand. Happy cheap surprise!

Do you use coupons? Have you ever had a big shopping savings score?

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