Smart shopping means paying the lowest price for each grocery item without doing super-couponing, joining a buyer’s club or driving out of your way to multiple stores (burning extra gas).
To Smart Shop…
- You do NOT need to super coupon.
- You do NOT need to join a buyer’s club.
- You do NOT need to set aside a room for bulk purchases.
- You do NOT need to drive around town to multiple supermarkets to get the best deals (you’ll lose money on gas).
I show three different costs for each sample meal at this website (still a work in progress).
This is the cost of the meal if you buy brand name and premium store products (meat, seafood, produce, etc.) at their full prices.
This is the cost of the meal if you buy generic or house brand items at their regular price.
This is the price if I shop smart. I can’t get these exact meals for these exact prices every time — they include manager’s specials, dented can prices and one-time sales or coupons. But, you probably have these types of activities in your area, too, so the Smart Shopping cost of each meal I’m showing you is what you CAN get if you keep your eyes open.
You should plan on normally paying a price-per-meal that’s about halfway in between the Bargain price and Smart Shopping price.
The smart-shopping cost marked on each picture was the cost of the meal because I:
- Bought generics
- Waited for sales
- Used a loyalty card
- Bought manager’s specials (which are dented cans, items close to the sell-by date, closeouts, etc.)
- Bought brand name products on sale
- Used a few digital or paper coupons
About 90 percent of the prices on this website come from things I bought at Kroger, the rest at Publix. You can do even better if you also (but not only) shop at Aldi, Walmart, Target, Costco, BJs, Sam’s Clubs and your local dollar and discount stores.
To get the absolute lowest price for any meal, you’d most likely have to drive around to different stores, which I’m not interested in doing.
I pass a Publix and a Kroger on my way home from tennis each Tuesday night, so I can shop at two different stores without making a special trip. If I make a dedicated grocery shopping trip, I go to a Kroger store with a fuel station, which is across the street from a Publix that’s next door to a Dollar Store, so it’s one trip.
I also shop at a local Kroger near my post office. That Kroger has a fuel station and is about 50 yards away from an Aldi, and it’s around the corner from a Sprout’s. I don’t shop at Sprouts, but they seem to have the best prices on asparagus, avacados and other fresh fruits and vegetables so I included some of those prices for you.
The point of this site is not to show you how to get the absolute lowest prices — it’s to demonstrated that many Americans are wildly overspending for groceries and that you can eat very well for less than $5 per adult. To put it another way, many Americans are paying twice what they should per person.
If you’re a typical person in Atlanta who pays full-price for everything, you can probably immediately save $100 or more per month if you buy generics and wait for sales. That’s $1,200 per month. Factor in credit card interest. Factor in another $600 if you put this money into a 401(k) match at work. Factor in the interest on that each year.
So, without really doing anything, you can add another $2,000+ to you retirement account each year. Depending on old you are, switching from Green Giant corn to store brand corn might give you another $500,000 when you retire!
That’s a half million dollars you gain by eating generic spaghetti instead of Ronzoni, and generic green beans instead of Del Monte.
Lots of Free Stuff!
None of these costs at this website were lowered using any of the MANY free grocery items I get from Kroger’s Free Friday promotion, which gives loyalty card holders a free gift each Friday. Freebies I’ve received have included:
- Cups of Dannon and Oikos yogurt
- 1/2-gallon Fairlife milk
- 24-pack of bottled water (about four times each year)
- Kraft dressing
- Kraft barbecue sauce
- 12-pack cans of Kroger soda
- Body Armour sport drink
- Gatorade protein shake
- Propel water
- Izzy soda
- Zico coconut water
- Snapple iced tea
- Bai 5 antioxidant fruit drink
- Annie’s Mac & Cheese
- Goodness Knows breakfast bars
- Energy bars (e.g. Power Bar, Gatorade Fuel Bar, Lara bar, Curate bar)
- Balance Bites
- 46 oz. Ocean Spray PACt fruit juice
- Box of Good Thins crackers
- Box of Quaker Oats Breakfast flats
- Box of Belvita breakfast bars
- Sparkling Ice Apple drink
- Calypso fruit drink
- Lindt chocolate bar
- Hershey chocolate bar
- Bag of Werther Originals caramels
- Organic gummy bears
- Story book with several Lifesavers (X-mas gift)
- 12-bottle Lipton iced tea packs
- Can of Lipton Sparkling Ice Tea
- Large bag of organic tortilla chips
- Rosarita refried beans
- Hormel Compleat meals
- Single-serving dog and cat foods
I get all of this free – something new every week!
Kroger’s loyalty card program is pretty crazy, too. They track what I buy and then send me coupons for discounts on those items. I don’t know why they give me coupons for things I’m going to buy anyway, but I’ll take it! They also give me coupons for freebies. I buy a boatload of Tombstone pizzas (one of the few name brand items I buy). Kroger gives me a coupon now and then for a free Tombstone pizza.
If you think “the government is watching you” because you have a grocery store loyalty card, I feel bad for you (I actually heard a cashier tell a customer that once!).
Publix will also accept Kroger coupons (up to $1). So, if I wait for an item to go buy-one-get-one-free at Publix (BOGO) and add a Kroger coupon, I get a very low price. As of late 2016, Publix (at least in metro Atlanta) no longer doubles Kroger coupons.
I also get fuel points at Kroger and save about $100 year on gas (I don’t drive much – a friend of mine saves about $900/year on gas with Kroger fuel points).