Baking is my stress relief and my creative outlet, and I love doing it. I love coming up with weird ideas and making them a reality with food. I love getting to make (and let’s be honest, eat) so many delicious things. I love hearing when you guys make my recipes and the ways you change things up to make them unique. On the flip side, it is not my stress relief to spend money on grocery shopping.
One of the things I’m always torn about is what I should or shouldn’t spend money on when it comes to ingredients for new recipes. I’ll come up with this amazing recipe idea and then do the math and figure out it would cost me $55 just to get the ingredients for a single (elaborate) cake. Or that I’d have to buy a $30 bottle of truffle oil just to get the teaspoon I need. Woof. That’s just too much for someone who is always trying to save a buck. Therefore, I’m always looking for new ways that I can save money.
For a while over the last couple years, I straight up didn’t have any new posts on Stress Baking because I couldn’t afford the ingredients to create new content. Do you know how sad that made me feel? There was part of me that considered putting up posts for things like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches just to be funny, but then realized it would just end up being sad. Like, really sad.
Thankfully, my financial situation is a bit better now overall with a different job and splitting the bills with the boyfriend in the home we now share together so it’s not quite so desperate a decision to be making. However, it’s getting hit pretty hard by medical expenses and since I don’t have an idea of when those will let up, I’m still trying to pinch all the pennies I can find. While I was doing my year end finances review (and setting up 2017) it occurred to me that other people might be able to benefit from some of the things I do to save money so that I can still run this site guilt-free. Well, the maintenance is guilt-free, not the recipes – have you SEEN some of these things? They are full of all sorts of delicious, delicious guilt.
So without further ado, here are some things that I do to save money on my groceries!
1. Don’t shop hungry.
Just don’t do it. You’ll go in with the best intentions and end up walking out with 3 gallons of ice cream, 2 bags of Ruffles and a case of Oreos. No, that’s never happened to me before – why do you ask?
2. Make a list and and organize it based on the store layout.
Don’t just scribble down everything you need on a piece of paper in random order. Group everything by the sections that they’re organized by in the store (produce, meat, dairy, etc.) and if you’re able to it helps even more to order the list based on your grocery store’s layout. It makes the trip even faster and more efficient and leaves less wiggle room for you to stray since you’ll be laser focused, section by section.
3. Accumulate discounts you need before you go to the store.
Don’t wait until you get there to try to start digging through coupons or apps to find what you need – you’ll get frustrated and give up, or you’ll end up being that guy who’s blocking an aisle because you’re busy on your phone. If you allow yourself the time to do your research you’ll be amazed at the deals you can find and how quickly the discounts can add up.
4. Organize your coupons in the same order.
Just in case you need to double check the details of the coupon offers, you won’t have to spent a bunch of time trying to sort through the pile.
5. Make note of the discounts you’re getting for each item on your list.
This can be a little time consuming, but it’s totally worth it. If you’re like me and switch between brands simply based on the discount of the day, making note of the discounts/coupons you have will help make the decision making process easier at a glance.
- Example #1: You have a coupon for $1 off a 3-pack of Kleenex, but the normal price on a 3-pack of Puffs is less even without a discount. That’s a no-brainer unless you’re a brand loyalist (which I can respect).
- Example #2: The store is advertising $0.50 off a half gallon of Silk soy milk and the store is out. Oh no! Ask the store’s customer service desk for a rain check and make sure that they include the sale price on it. So when it’s back in stock, you’ll still get the discount!
6. Skip the aisles you don’t need.
If you don’t need soda, don’t go down that aisle. Temptation eliminated in an effortless step!
7. Follow the wisdom of Frugalwoods.
I’ve been a fan of the Frugalwoods blog for a long time and I was a part of the Frugalwoods Uber Frugal Month Challenge as an added challenge to myself to stay on the right track. You’d be amazed at the tips you can pick up from other people just in the Facebook group they created for it.
8. Speaking Facebook groups… Join one!
There’s a Facebook group called KCL Ibotta Team that’s definitely worth joining if you use the Ibotta app (see below for more about that). Since Ibotta tracks your Team progress based on your Facebook friends, most people in this group and looking to add more people to their friends’ list so that they can bump up their earning power even more! As an added bonus, sometimes you can make a good friend in the process 🙂 If you’re not looking to expand your social circle and just want the added dolla dolla bills (ya’ll), just unfollow the people you add and you won’t see any of their posts in your timeline.
You wouldn’t believe how much you can save using these apps – since they’re all independent of each other, you can layer discounts on top of each other for the same products! If you appreciate the tips about these apps, please sign up with my referral links and it’ll help us both out 🙂
- It seems to have the widest selection of products to save on at any point and time.
- They support a ton of different stores – even non-grocery stores.
- They even allow you to save on alcohol purchases!
- One of the things that really makes them stand out against other apps is that they allow you to get teams of people together (using your Facebook friends, like I outline above with regard to their Facebook group) and earn additional bonuses with monthly challenges.
- You have to scan each individual items as well as your receipt, so if you already put all your groceries away before you used the app to redeem your discounts… you’ll have to take things back out to scan them. I forget probably half the time!
- They put “Any Brand Rebate” exclusions on most of the team challenges, so they don’t count toward your “Teamwork” goals.
- There is a $20 minimum to cash out via PayPal, Venmo, or to put the money toward a gift card.
Please sign up using my referral link and you’ll get $10! My referral code is “qqksmyy”: https://ibotta.com/r/qqksmyy
2. Checkout 51
- I don’t find any many things that are useful for my own personal shopping on this one, but sometimes I get some heavy hitters – like $1.00 back on two cans of chili!
- Like most of these apps, it doesn’t take into account what the prices are at your personal store and use that to limit you on your purchase so if they’re on sale AND you use the app, you could get bonus savings without any effort at all!
- They also provide you with one discount for a “Pick Your Own Offer” each time you use it that allows you to select from a list of fruits and veggies for a $0.25 discount. I use this one every time!
- You only have to upload your receipt, and not scan individual items.
- They “run out” of available discounts, so even if you’ve starred a discount before you went shopping, it could be gone by the time you check out.
- There is a $20 minimum to cash out via PayPal or check.
- They offer a lot of “Any Brand” discounts.
- They send you PayPal deposits each time you redeem, no matter how small the amount.
- Usually a relatively small selection of discounts, and I see the same ones in there all the time. If you regularly purchase those items, that’s great for you! But since I don’t often buy things like Sweet Baby Ray’s sauce, it’s a bit of a bummer.
Please sign up using my referral link and get $10! My referral code is “VVFEMTTU“.
- If you frequently shop in bulk, this will probably be the best app for you! Most of their discounts are things like “Spend $15 on GOYA products” or “Buy 3 pints of Ben & Jerry’s”.
- You link up your store loyalty cards (like Stop & Shop, Wegmans) ahead of time so that you don’t have to do any receipt uploading at all! It may take days (or weeks, for some stores) for the discounts to be applied after purchase but it’s all automated. However, some stores like Target do still require receipt uploads.
- Even though the discount redemptions may have high minimum purchases, you only need $5 to cash out to a bank account, PayPal account or a donation to charity.
- If you don’t shop in bulk, you may have a difficult time gathering enough of each product to earn the discounts in the timeframe provided.
- Depending on the day and store, you can end up with some pretty great cash back opportunities! Sometimes you get ones that get you a discount on the purchase itself plus cash back after the fact. That’s pretty great.
- The discounts are typically for stores that aren’t grocery stores and might not even be stores that are near you (as you can see in the screenshot above, Red Lobster shows up in my list – I couldn’t tell you what state near me even has a Red Lobster!)
- You need $25 to cash out. Personally, I’ve yet to hit that minimum.
- If you’re a Target shopper, this app is pure gold – you get discounts for the stuff you’re buying anyway!
- You can use Cartwheel in addition to your Target Red Card (which gets you 5% off all purchases) and double up on your discounts.
- You can get discounts on Target’s brands like up & up and Simply Balanced, so it’s not just for brand name products.
- There are so many discounts that it can be overwhelming to go through the list!
- This is the only app that I don’t plan ahead with because of the above reason – instead, I connect to Target’s wifi while I’m shopping and scan the items I’m buying as I go to check for discounts.
- You can use EBates on your computer browser for online purchases, but you can also load it onto your phone for in store offers.
- It has a huge selection of stores, and it seems like they’re always adding more.
- You just have to load your credit card information in your profile ahead of time and it will trakc the transactions – to receipt uploading needed!
- You have the option to cash out via a physical check, PayPal or by directing the funds to a family member, organization or charity. Imagine the surprise you could give a loved one!
- You’re probably more likely to use EBates on your computer to make online purchases versus your mobile phone in a store just because there aren’t as many offers for the latter – but when you do, sometimes they’re sizable cash back offers!
- If you use a credit card that’s not loaded in your profile (or you use cash), you won’t get the discounts – so you just have to make sure you’re paying attention!
- They only pay out once every three months, regardless of when your purchases occurred or how often you’ve racked up savings. For example, purchases made between 1/1-3/31 won’t pay out until 5/15.
Please sign up using my referral link to get $10!: https://www.ebates.com/r/LESLIE17849?eeid=33618
This one isn’t so much for grocery shopping, but it can help you earn points at other stores where you shop, and then you can redeem those points for gift cards where you get your groceries!
Please sign up using my referral link: https://app.shopkick.com/r/3X7Cfv
- It has some sizable rebates on healthy food selections that you wouldn’t see in other apps
- You can filter by store, and it also gives you a “Where to Buy” on each individual item you view – so you can always tell where you need to go for that product!
- Many apps require that you save/bookmark the rebates before you go to the store, but this one does not.
- You have to write reviews and rate the products before you can redeem the deals, which isn’t a big deal – except (depending on your shopping style) it can make it difficult to keep track of what it is in your list that you’re looking to buy.
Sign up using my referral link: https://www.berrycart.com/rf/mDKFwQCOiEKe
- It has rebates on healthy food selections that you wouldn’t see in other apps
- It takes a bit of effort to find the offers that are available – there’s no option to just view them all, so you have to either dig in by Brand, Category or Attribute (dairy free, gluten free, etc.). It’s several levels deep just to see a single product so it can get a bit frustrating and time-consuming.
Bonus: Stop & Shop/Scan It!
I’m using this as a bonus to the list of 10 since Stop & Stop is here in my area, but might not be in yours. I’m sure there are other stores with similar apps in other places. Their app will allow you to add virtual coupons to your loyalty card so that you don’t have to fuss with paper coupons – they’re automatically applied when you check out (as long as you added them before you shopped!). Stop & Shop also has an app called “Scan It!” that you can use to scan all your purchased as you’re shopping, so that you can bag things as you go along and check out in a matter of a couple minutes since you don’t need to load anything onto the belt to be scanned. Both apps are super handy!
Phew! That was a lot of information.
What are some of your own shopping tips or favorite apps to use that help make grocery shopping easier and/or less expensive? Tell me in the comments below!