Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Grocery Game: Start to Finish

Imagine that you eagerly anticipate your grocery shopping every week. You excitedly add your items to your cart, eagerly greet your cashier, and hold out your hand, just waiting to receive your receipt. That very receipt will tell you that you saved at least HALF on your grocery trip. The cashier, then says, “Wow! I’ve never seen anyone do that before.”

This has been my experience each week for the past two years. I have been playing The Grocery Game, and I’m completely hooked on saving money! I’ll ever go back to the “old ways.”

I have tons of people ask me questions about the Grocery Game, so I thought I’d write a step by step guide to getting the most out of it.

Part One: How does The Grocery Game work? And can’t I do it myself with my coupons?

Teri, the founder of The Grocery Game, (or an employee) catalogs every coupon from the Sunday Newspapers (Charlotte or Winston). Her database also tracks the sale history of almost every item sold in the grocery store, to record the “rock bottom” price.

The database then pairs the newspaper coupon with the lowest price to give you the perfect time to use your coupons, and posts them in a color-coded list. The list gives you the reg price, sale price, coupon value, date and section. The list is even in the order of the store isles. (You can also sort the list by price) You could do this yourself, but do you really want to log the sale prices of every grocery item, and sift through all the sale pages every week?

You pay $10 every 8 weeks for a one-store list, and $5 for each additional store. (That’s just $1.25 per week) BUT! If you refer three people to the program, you get three free months! I’ve been using the list free for a while now.

Part 2: What is your routine for shopping with the list?

Sunday: Get a newspaper, login to thegrocerygame.com, and select my products from Terri’s List for Harris Teeter. Print out the list.
Sunday Night: Using the list, pull the coupons for this week’s list from my file. Cut and file coupons from this week’s paper.
Monday or Tuesday: Take the list to Harris Teeter, and buy the items. Be sure to hand over your VIC card. I forgot once, and it was not pretty. Get rainchecks for the sold-out items, and file them with the coupons for those items.

I usually make my weekly menu from items from the list, and my pantry.

Have fun putting away your booty!

Part 3: How do you file your coupons?

Some people file their coupons by date in he original coupon flier, without cutting. That makes less work when you file, but more work when you shop. And you also need a large accordian file. It’s not my preferred method.

I use two canceled check files, one for food, and one for toiletry type items. Here is the breakdown:

File 1: Beverages, Breakfast, Dessert/ Snacks, Canned Goods, Grocery, Sauces/ Seasonings, Refrigerated Frozen, Baby, Pets, Rainchecks

File 2: Make-up, Soap/ Deodorant, Hair, Shaving/ Feminine, Cleaners, Laundry, Paper Products, Medicine:Adult, Medicine:Children, Betteries, Teeth, Lotion.

You could get away with less categories, but it’s easier for me to have less coupons in each section.

Part 4: Do you find yourself buying things you don’t use?

No. I buy things I wouldn’t usually buy, but just because they’re expensive. I used to buy a lot of store-brand foods, some of which were way inferior (American cheese, for instance). If I can buy a name brand for cheaper than store brands, why not? I’ve also tried lots of new things and ended up liking most of them. You certainly don’t have to buy everything on the list, so just choose the items you will use. Sometimes if I find something I won’t use that is really cheap, I’ll buy it to donate to a food drive.

Part 5: What is your monthly grocery budget?

We spend roughly $300 per month on everything, including toiletries, cleaning products, hair, teeth, you name it. Honestly, we usually get juice, milk, and cheese at Walmart. There have been months when we’ve used our grocery budget up early, but we usually have enough food to last two full weeks.

Part 6: What about meat and produce?

Terri also posts the rock bottom produce and meat prices, so even though there are no coupons you get a heads up. We buy local beef for roughly $3.00/lb, including steaks, stew meat, roasts, ground. We also get a deer from the meat processing plant every year. This helps with our meat bill. The Local Farmers’ Market is a great place to get local produce. Sometimes, we buy large quantities in season, and can it for the winter.

Tips for getting the most out of the Free Trial.

Save up coupons for at least 4 weeks, before you sign up for the Grocery Game. It takes about six weeks to accumulate all the coupons in the list, so make sure you get the most bang for your buck, and are able to see what it’s really like to play the Grocery Game.

When the Grocery Game is NOT for you.

Although I adore the Grocery Game, and recommend it highly, sometimes it’s not for you.

  • if you have lots of allergies, and find yourself buying highly specialized foods.
  • if you only eat organic foods. There are some organic foods on the list, but for the most part, no.
  • if you are extremely brand loyal for many products. I have a few brand loyalties. For instance, I only like JIF peanut butter, (and Smuckers Natural) Luckily, JIF has regular coupons so it’s OK. I have pretty much given up on store-brand sour cream and mac and cheese, so I’m glad I get brand-name coupons.



Visit www.thegrocerygame.com, and check it out. There is an information page, testimonials, and a message board so you can share tips/questions, etc. You can see a sample of what the list looks like on the information page.

So, do you have any other questions? Post them in the comments, and I’ll try to answer them. Do you use the Grocery Game? Tell us how you like it!

5 comments:

AJ said...

I've heard that the grocery game doesn't post the deals for the week until Saturday or Sunday when the grocery ads change on Wednesdays and some of the stores have 3-day specials that you miss out on....

I thought about doing it, but I get all the adds and do it myself right now using HotCouponWorld's database.

I post my deals here www.yourcouponbuddy.com

So, do you think the most avid couponer would benefit from Grocery Game, or do you think that GG is for someone who doesn't have the time to do it themselves. Can they get info that is not in the ad?

Ok, enough questions. :-)
yourcouponbuddy (at) Yahoo (dot) com

Sarah said...

AJ, you are right. GG posts on Sunday, and you have to shop by Tuesday night for Wednesday change-over stores, so that is prohibitive.

If you have the time and enjoy researching yourself, you probably wouldn't gain from GG. I get so overwhelmed trying to figure it all out, and I don't have time to do it, so it works for me. Sometimes they post non-advertised sales, but I don't know if it would be worth it just for that.

I looked at your site, and it looks like a great resource!

Lori said...

Man! I wish I could partake of such a system!!! I put my zip code in and the only stores that appeared were CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens. No grocery stores. I can handle the others okay myself, it's the groceries that I can always use assistance on!!
Oh well, thanks for doing the review! It was awesome!

kimi said...

I'm a grocery game addict. for me, a working woman, new wife and new step mom that plays softball 4 nights a week? I have no time to cut coupons and scour ads. This is a HUGE timesaver for me. I actually just signed up a friend today.

Sarah said...

I'm with you, Kimi!