I have started doing my shopping differently. I know some of you are anti Wal-Mart. But I like to shop there and take advantage of price matching.
Every Tuesday and Wednesday I receive the free Ads in the mail from the grocery stores... The ones I thought were "junk." I ignored them and immediately threw them out. Well now, I save them and actually use them weekly.
I pick a day to sit down with my ads. I have a notebook paper and pen ready to jot down the deals. I will pick a store and look through their items of the week. I go "shopping" at home. It does take a little extra time but it is so worth it when you see how much you save. Actually, I have a funny story. When I first started this I literally wrote down every produce and grocery item that was the cheapest deal. I went to the store and bought all of the items. I actually ended up spending SO much more money on my so-called-deals. I was laughing with my husband when I set out to save money and actually spent more money than I normally would. Now I am careful to buy only what we need and not buy something because its a good deal.
It really is amazing to see the "specials" from store to store. This is why I pre- shop for my produce (and some grocery items.) For example, one store (Sprout's) may have an ad posting tomatoes at $0.97/ lb pretty good right? No... wrong! when compared with another ad from Food City posting the same kind of tomatoes at 3 lbs for $0.99. That's only $0.02 more fore the additional 2 lbs. Or when they have avocados 2/ $1 at one store or 5/ $1 at another. Crazy! But, nice for me. Its free. All I have to do is take advantage of it. All I do is mention it to the cashier at Wal-Mart "I have a price match for that item." And tell them the price (and maybe prove it to them by showing the ad.) The other thing is if they have a deal buy ___ for $2 you do not have to buy the exact quantity they post. For example, if they say 10 / $1.00 you do not need to buy all 10. You can buy only 2 and still get the discount savings.
So here is what I do. I lay all of my ads in a stack. I will start with the first one whichever it may be (lets pretend Safeway). I will write Safeway at the top of the paper. I will look through the ad and write down how much the items are/cost. If strawberries are $0.99 I will write down "strawberries" and so on going through all the possible items I may want. Then I will get the next ad (lets pretend Fry's is next) I will write down "Fry's" and under this list all of their specials unless it was cheaper in one of the previous ads. For example, if Fry's has strawberries for $0.88 I will cross off strawberries from Safeway because they are cheaper at Frys. *Something to make this a lot easier is to make a spreadsheet. List of all the fruits/veggies/foods you normally buy in the left column and across the top row list all of the stores that send ads then you can find the item write in the price of the week-special under the sore column. Much easier.
Once I have my finalized list of all the cheapest groceries. I will review it and see if there is anything listed that I really dont want/need for the week and cross it off. I will then start my weekly meal plan.
I fortunately found a local ranch market (Superstition Ranch Market in Mesa) with really cheap fruits and veggies. The whole store is full of fruits and veggies! I normally will go there first with my list and compare the prices of the cheapest produce from all the stores. If the ranch market has something cheaper than the cheapest advertisement I will buy it there. If not then I buy the remainder of my produce from Wal-Mart. Sometimes Wal-Mart has cheaper items than the cheapest store ad. To make things easier I will separate the items in my basket for a faster check out. If it is a "price match" then I will put those items to be scanned first at the register. That way I can tell the cashier the other stores listed price to get the price matched. Its really fun. Sometimes when there is a really good deal they will want proof and you have to tell them the store or even just show the ad. I always bring the ads with me and leave them in the cart while I shop. I dont need to look at them because I already have my list that I wrote out.
Once you get going you will start to notice what a "deal/special" is and what normal prices should be. Sometimes I have seen something advertised but even though its a "special" its still pretty pricy. But it is nice because the ads will always feature the fresh in-season fruits and veggies.
There are non-produce, dry/ grocery items that are on sale too. So, if I find tuna for $0.30 I will stock up because I know that the normal good price is more expensive.
It may seem like a ton of work but it actually is pretty simple and will save you more money.