by Leah Ingram
Our grocery costs are out of control. Again. During a recent road trip, during which my husband and I would have hoursto kill while our kids listened to their iPods or watched movies, we decided to crunch some of our monthly numbers, since it felt like we were coming up short once again. And we were. Here’s what we discovered:
- My income is down again.
- Our grocery costs are up.
Now kudos to us for cooking at home nearly every night, one of the reasons that we’re spending more at the grocery store. (You get that math, right? When you stop wasting money eating out, you inevitably start running up your grocery bills–at least beyond where they used to be when you weren’t eating at home.)
However, some recent entertaining at home–finally, now that our home renovation is complete–found us spending way more than normal at the supermarket when stocking up for entertaining. Plus, the dip in my income hasn’t helped with spending up.
The good news is that we have plenty of grilling necessities left over from that entertaining to keep us going on dinners for at least a week. The bad news is the number crunching confirmed that we are spending more on food. But the good news again? It’s the one area where we can likely cut back if it’s the obvious place where our budget is bleeding.
But beyond meal-planning and coupon-cutting, what more could we do? I’m hoping that something called the Grocery Game will help to make the difference.
I first heard about the Grocery Game, when I was researching my money-saving article for Good Housekeeping, and the website’s PR person pitched the Grocery Game’s founder Teri Gault as a resource. (I did end up interviewing her for the story but that interview ended up on the proverbial cutting room floor, as I discovered when my story came out in the July issue.)
The notion behind the Grocery Game is that you “play” by stocking up on products only when they’re practically free or on super sale, with coupons, at your local grocery store. You know to do this because the Grocery Game scans all the supermarket fliers for you (read: time saver) and, on a weekly basis, posts a list of what’s on sale at the stores near you. In addition, this list includes which coupons appeared in your Sunday paper that week, so together you can stock up on necessities when they are the least expensive to buy.
Here is how the PR person pitched it:
The Grocery Game is a membership Web site that provides an easy and fun way for consumers to save 50 percent or more on groceries. The site tracks close to 10,000 items per week in more than 160 supermarkets nationwide to find the lowest priced items, both advertised and unadvertised, and matches these items with weekly specials and manufacturers’ coupons.
So for the next few months I’m going to be using it exclusively for our food shopping, and I’ll bring you along so you can see how much we’re saving and maybe learn a trick or two about new and different ways to save at the supermarket. My goal is to get our monthly grocery-shopping spending below $400.
If you have any experience with The Grocery Game, I’d love to hear how it worked (or didn’t work) for you.
Most mothers teach their kids to cook and clean. Leah Ingram’s mother taught her to compost. These days she’s passing along this green message to her own daughters as they all try to live a green and frugal lifestyle as The Lean Green Family. She’s the author of Suddenly Frugal: How to Live Happier and Healthier for Less“Suddenly Frugal:How to Live Happier and Healthier for Less.” Visit her blog, Suddenly Frugal.