Hello! This is my first Frugal Friday post though I've been reading for a while. Crystal keeps mentioning Kroger deals so I thought I would talk about how I save at Kroger (your local store may be Dillon's, Gerbes, Fry's, etc.).
1) Sign up for the card. Using the Kroger Plus shopper's card allows you to receive the weekly discounts, trigger Catalina coupons (coupons that print out at the register to be used on a future shopping trip), and allows Kroger to mail you coupons. Study your coupon, some are only for Kroger and some are manufacturer's coupons that you can cut the Kroger side out (perforation is before the Kroger sign) so it can be used at any store that accepts manufacturer coupons.
2) Study the ad. Figure out what are the loss leaders and what are not such a good deal, a price book helps with this.
3) Look for the saving signs!!! Often a product in the ad this week will also be on sale next week. Study the price sign (check for these in your area, this is how it works at my Kroger), there will be a sale start date and end date. The product may be in this week's ad but also will be on sale next week and maybe the week after. (I've seen where it has a sale price for the next 4 months then a week later it's gone and back to the original price so don't count on these always to be accurate, but it's usually good for a few weeks if that's the ending date.) These dates are especially good for "special deals" like Crystal talked about before with the cereal. The ad might list or picture 3 cereal boxes but when you look in the store you see that 15 different cereals work for the special deal, and you see that the special deal is also going on next week. This allows you time to accumulate more coupons or save and plan your grocery budget around these special deals.
3a) Look for unadvertised specials too. Our store seems to remove the sale signs early in the day on Saturday so make sure you know it's on sale (don't be fooled by a missing sign if they've taken it down early) but they also put up Sunday's sale tags on Saturday evening (I think they'll honor the price so you don't have to wait until Sunday). Obviously, here our ads run Sunday through Saturday, but I think it might work the same for Wednesday through Tuesday sales.
4) Smart source coupons. Have you noticed the flashing red button with coupons sticking out? These are Smart source coupons (at least here that's who sponsors them here) that can be used at any store, it's a manufacturer coupon. Look all over the store, last year I found coupons in the pharmacy area for Claritin-D. I stocked up on coupons and shared with others. The machine will usually have one ready, and when you take it, another will come out, sometimes it will stop putting another one out after 2 are taken. Keep standing there and the machine will put more out, or walk back by the aisle in a few minutes or every time you come into the store.
5) Buy one get one free specials. I love this about Kroger, you don't have to buy 2 - they mark one product down half price so you only have to buy 1. (At Meijer you have to buy 2 to get the buy one get one free deal.) Also you can use 2 coupons.
6) Check out the Kroger website. The ad is there with a printable shopping list. I like to start my shopping list by printing off the sales from Kroger. I'll turn the paper over and list sales from other stores I'm planning to shop at. (Yes this uses a little printer ink but saves me time.) Also, when shopping in the store you can make a note about products that will still be on sale next week. (I look at this and transfer to the next week's printed shopping list, or try to remember.)
7) Fuel rewards. We have gas pumps at most of the local Kroger stores. By spending $100 in groceries (total is usually BEFORE coupons), you receive 10 cents off per gallon of gas. If you have a Kroger credit card you receive 15 cents off (though I don't recommend credit cards!). For every $100 spent you accrue the 10 cents to use at each pump visit during the next month (you don't get 20 cents off by spending $200, instead you get 10 cents off twice). You have to use the Kroger plus shopping card to earn and use this savings. We make the most of this by taking both vehicles for a fill-up. However, I used to get caught up in this trying to spend to the $100 mark when thinking it through you're not saving that much: 25 gallons X 10 cents = $2.50 so try to keep that in mind. We've never run into a limit issue but they usually say 20 or 25 or 30 gallon limit. If your closest Kroger doesn't have gas pumps but another one does, this may be worth driving to another store. I've been told by an employee that Kroger fuel prices are set by competition in that area so usually every store has a different price for gas and one side of town may be cheaper than another.
8) Markdowns. Crystal has shown several marked-down items she has bought recently. You have to keep your eyes open! Shopping at certain times of the day helps, ask when markdowns are most likely to be made.
9) Making the most of coupons. I sign-up for coupons a lot and ask manufacturers for coupons so I seem to get the occasional free item coupon. I save these for Kroger to work towards the fuel rewards.
I used to be an avid Wal-Mart shopper because the prices are generally lower or you can ad match anyway, but now with Catalina coupons and other rewards I've found that it does pay to shop at Kroger, Meijer, etc. But you have to be careful to make sure it's a good deal!! :) Please leave a comment with any other tips or good deals you've found this week. Thanks!
Update - For those with Meijer nearby, it is Frozen Food sale this month. There are coupons in the ad this week so stock up because there will be sales all month but the coupons are only in the ad this week!! (It appears that the coupons are also available online this time but I would rather have their ad coupons because I've had trouble with our store accepting "printable" coupons before.) Read the "rules" on the coupon - only one coupon for that item can be used per visit but you can always make multiple visits and stock up. You can also combine manufacturer coupon with this store coupon (it's worked for me before, I assume it would work this time).