If you follow me on Instagram [which, hi, you should!], you’ve probably seen me share my Krogering experiences on Instastories. Well, I always get DMs on how I save so much money every time I shop, so I thought I’d sit down and put together a comprehensive post of how I save anywhere from 15-35% on my groceries every week. This post will be long but hopefully informative and help motivate you to up your grocery game! Let’s get started.
Where I Shop: Ok, this is a big piece of the puzzle I think. I almost exclusively shop at Kroger with the occasional trip to Jungle Jim’s [where we primarily buy meat and alcohol], and a couple visits a year to Costco [where I buy a lot of household items like toilet paper and dishwasher tabs] and Trader Joes if I fancy a treat. The best thing about shopping at Kroger is their app! Now, if you don’t live near a Kroger, keep in mind that Dillon’s, Fry’s, Ralph’s, Fred Meyer, Roundy’s, King Soopers, Harris Teeter, and Smith’s all are owned by Kroger so would have nearly identical apps. I love the Kroger app so much because you can do your list directly in the app and it’ll organize it by aisle! It’s super convenient and helps streamline your shopping so easily. And the biggest component is the digital coupons within the app. This is primarily where I save the most money I’d say. Typically, I”ll make my list in the app, and then I’ll go into coupons and search for the items or brands that are on my list to see if there are any coupons. In my opinion, and I’ve worked in grocery retail for almost 10 years, nobody does coupons better than Kroger. Now I will say that my brand loyalty can falter if there’s a coupon. A good example would be pasta sauce. I’d say if I were to choose a brand, I’d prefer Classico. However, if Ragu or Prego have a coupon that week, I’ll scoop that up. So, that would be my first tip when it comes to couponing is to be flexible with brands. Kroger does an amazing job of customizing your offers so you only get coupons on what types of stuff you actually buy. They also send both paper coupons in the mail as well as exclusive offers to you digitally in the app, so you have lots of changes to save.
Types of Coupons: So this is where the strategy comes in. I utilize the in-app coupons, the paper coupons that are sent to me, as well as Catalina coupons. Catalina coupons are the ones that come out at the register after you check out. Now, a lot of people throw these out or lose them, but I always make sure to save them and utilize them. Some of the best offers come through there! So, when I’m making my list, I always make sure to check all 3 things [the app, if I was sent any coupons in the mail [these are usually the best offers from Kroger], and then if I have any Catalina from my last visit]. There are also apps like Ibotta that offer coupons that are really good, too! Kroger Krazy is a great resource for help on couponing at Kroger. Other retailers also have similar bloggers who help round up the best deals, so Google would be a great resource there!
What I buy Branded vs Private Label: Honestly, I buy a lot of branded items. Again, having worked for CPG brands my entire career, I know the work and quality that goes into having a branded product and I respect that. I do, however, of course have a few things that I buy not branded. Milk and juice I’ll usually buy Private Label. I’ll occasionally purchase Private Label cheese [generally if there’s a coupon] but if I’m going branded it’s Sargento or Kraft. Pasta I will also buy Private Label majority of the time. I’ll sometimes buy Private Label ice cream, as well. So, it appears my pattern is that I’ll buy generic dairy products, with the exception of eggs [more on that later]. Frozen Pizza, Waffles, and Tortillas can often be found in my cart not branded. I especially actually love the Kroger brand Carb Counter tortillas!
What I buy Organic vs Non-Organic: So if my general rule of thumb is that I’ll buy generic dairy, then another rule of thumb is I try to keep my produce and meat organic. I definitely only buy organic eggs and chicken 100% of the time. I don’t waver on that. If I’m buying ground beef at Kroger [we normally get wagyu grind from Jungle Jims] that will be organic also. I also only buy organic Spinach and frozen berries for my smoothies. My main line of thinking is that if it was once alive, it should be organic. Hormones and all that stuff really freaks me out, especially since becoming a parent, so I try to go organic there if I can. The plus side is that Kroger is constantly sending out coupons for their Simple Truth line which is organic, so I rarely pay full price for chicken, beef, or eggs! In the app, I’ll often search “Simple Truth” in the coupons tab so I make sure I don’t miss any of those because I love to shop that brand when I can.
My Typical Grocery List: Ok, so here goes. I’ll try to keep this succinct but this what you can usually find in my house [and my cart].
- Dairy: Shredded Cheese [usually mozzarella and a sharp cheddar], Milk [we drink Whole Milk], Coffee Creamer [I get sugar-free International Delight normally], Eggs, Yogurt [I only buy Siggi’s], Unsalted Butter [usually generic]
- Deli + Meat/Seafood: Lunch Meat [we always have Ham on hand and sometimes turkey], ready-made pasta for quick weeknight dinners [I love Hemisfares or Rana brand], Spinach Greek Yogurt Dip [typically La Terra Fina brand], Chicken Breasts, Ground Beef
- Produce: Spinach, Bananas, Avocados, Cuties, Roma Tomatoes
- Drinks: Apple Juice, Orange Juice, Sparkling Waters [either Private Label or Bubly, usually determined by if there’s a coupon for one]
- Center Store: Pasta, Pasta Sauce, Tortillas, Bread [we usually buy Sara Lee Artesano but I will get Private Label if there’s a coupon], Burger Buns [I usually get Private Selection Golden Brioche], Tortilla Chips [we love Tostito’s Hint of Lime], Salsa [I’m pretty loyal to Chi-Chi’s but can be swayed with a coupon], Peanut Butter [pretty loyal to Justin’s and there are coupons for that in the app a lot], Cereal [usually Cinnamon Toast Crunch], Mac & Cheese [always Kraft, duh], Soup [usually Progresso], Canned Tuna [I only buy Wild Planet], all the Condiments [I could write a whole post on this alone, ha!]
- Frozen: Berries, Waffles, an occasional Pizza, Riced Cauliflower + Brussels Sprouts [I like the Birdseye Steamers]
- Snacks for Dillon: Applesauce pouches [I usually get GoGo unless there’s a coupon for Private Label], PopChips Nutter Puffs [tons of coupons for these in the app!], Canned Pineapple + Mandarin Oranges [I usually get Dole with a coupon or Private Label], Bars [this greatly varies week over week and is heavily influenced by coupons, but some favorites are Clif Kids, Larabar Kids, KIND Kids, Nutri-Grain bars, or Annie’s Organic], Little Bites muffins [he’s obsessed with the Churro flavor
- Household items: Dishwasher packs, Laundry Detergent, Wipes, Glade Plug-Ins [there are almost always coupons for these]
- There’s a grocery haul saved to my EATS highlight on Instagram if you want to see what a typical trip actually looks like!
Organization: This is one of the things that helps me save money on shopping more than anything. My pantry and fridge are both incredibly organized and I can see everything I have. That helps me mentally keep an inventory of what I need and what I have backups on. The key here is having storage for backups. That helps me save a TON of money if I’m able to stock up on things while they’re on sale. We also have a deep freezer in our garage that has been a godsend. I think we spent $150 on it, and it’s probably saved me 5x that amount in the amount I’ve been able to stockpile in there. Kroger runs Buy X, Save X sales a lot that require you to purchase a certain quantity of items at a deep discount. I take advantage of those when things that I know we go through a lot of [for example, mac and cheese, condiments, or pasta sauce] and I’ll buy a bunch and just keep them on hand. Having space for back-ups is a game changer when it comes to smart shopping. While my kitchen may not be super Instagrammable, it is super functional for us.
So, there you have it. When it comes to saving money while grocery shopping, it really boils down to a few things: make a list and stick to it, search for coupons for items on that list, and, if possible, keep your kitchen in the position to have space to store back-ups so you can take advantage of good deals. On average, I’d guess I save 25% on every single grocery trip by taking advantage of in-store sales and layering in my coupons. I’d say a fair average is about $100 a week, and that includes all of my breakfast and lunches, and 3-5 family dinners. I hope this was helpful! Leave a comment if I missed anything that you’re curious about.