Shopping Trip – The “I’m About to Give Up on Kroger” Edition

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on October 11, 2011

Shopping with the $5 Dinner Mom

So I’m about this close (fingers pinched together) to giving up on Kroger entirely. And I can’t believe I just said that.  I can’t really put my finger on it. They just aren’t having the rocking sales that they used to. I can’t remember their last sale for ground beef…ages ago it seems. I’ve long since run out of my stockpile and end up buying it when I can squeeze it into the budget, or whenever I see it marked down. I quit buying apple juice a long time ago…because the cost nearly doubled. (And my kids don’t really need it anyways.)

It’s not their fault really. I know there are many, many, many factors in play with these kinds of things.

But it’s forcing me to rethink they way I grocery shop.

We upped our grocery budget last week…but I think if I’m a little bit more creative…and willing to drive to another store in town…I might be able to get the budget back down.

Shopping exclusively at Kroger used to work for us…but that might not be the case anymore. (I should add that Kroger is the only grocery store within 10-15 minutes drive from our house…and it’s almost in our backyard, so it’s hyper convenient. And I can’t wait for the new Earth Fare to open up…will only be about 5 minutes drive!)

Thoughts…do you shop at multiple grocery stores? Are you now hunting sales at different stores to keep up with the rising food costs?

Kroger


We had family over for dinner on Sunday, so I had to run back into the store…spent a little less than $20 for a bunch of burgers (that were marked down!), buns and watermelon. So that left me with about $60 to spend for the week.

Just an average trip. I did snag a large package of stew meat, marked down to $9.92. I divided it up into 3 plastic baggies, added some seasoning (minced onion, garlic and onion seasoning and some olive oil, salt and pepper) then put it all in the freezer.

The only coupons I used were for the milk. I needed a week off from ” couponing.” So I took one.

Total spent at Kroger: $60.92 + $19ish

Total for the month: $82.84 + $79.92 = $162.76…right on track for the month!

My grocery store’s ad scan and my “Shopping FAQ!”

Thanks to Andrea at Savings Lifestyle and Marcy at Stretching a Buck for posting the best deals and coupon matchups at my stores each week! Find the coupon match-ups for your grocery store at The Frugal Map!

A

{ 100 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura October 11, 2011 at 5:48 pm

Like many of you, I will not buy meat at wal mart. However I buy just about everything else there and price match whatever I can. For meat we go to a local grocery store and buy family packs of what’s on sale that week to use and freeze

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Lazy Budget Chef October 11, 2011 at 6:48 pm

I shop more than one grocery store – Miejer, Aldi, and Trader Joes are my regulars. I also hit a couple of mom and pop international grocery stores because their prices on spices, rice, soy sauces, tofu can’t be beat. I buy almost all of my meat at Aldi and haven’t been disaapointed in quality or price. We don’t eat a lot of beef though.

I gave up on Kroger when they introduced their store card and raised all of their prices to compensate. I do better at Aldi and at Meijer with coupons.

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Melanie October 11, 2011 at 9:06 pm

I agree. I’ve been disenchanted with Kroger lately also. I check the ads, excited to see what we will be eating and then am disappointed in the same processed junk and very few loss leaders. Also, I never buy the ground beef in the tubes at Kroger. They are always part of the recalls so I only buy the stuff ground in the store. That hasn’t been on sale in ages.

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Cheryl M October 11, 2011 at 9:37 pm

I’m also ready to can Kroger. I’m in the Columbus Market & Kroger has changed it so you can only use your fuel points for ONE fillup. & Since I rarely shop there any more I’m lucky if I save .30cents a gallon which equals out to about $4 off.
It seems everything has gone up in price & their produce has really been lacking lately.
The Columbus Dispatch did a story a few weeks back so I was glad to hear it wasn’t just my imagination.
http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/business/2011/09/25/food-price-watch-art-g05e7t5l-1.html

Not sure it’s just corn to blame. I still think TLC’s Extreme Couponing has something to do with it

I took a (too long) break from couponing for most of the summer. & now it seems like most of the coupons for food are for junk food or (too expensive) cereal. My oldest started 1st grade and packing a lunch…boy did our budget take a hit with that. (He can’t take leftovers like DH can; darn it)
I’ve already had to raise our budget just for the rising cost of food & his lunches; I’m not sure what else I can cut out.
I shop Sam’s club for their meat & some frozen veggies (plus onions, yogurt, olive oil, lettuce & cottage cheese) They have ground turkey for $2.25 sometimes $1.99. Their 90% lean ground beef went up in price so I’m not buying that. The Anderson’s had a good sale on boneless skinless chicken breasts about 6 wks ago; it was $1.70/lb & I think I bought 25lbs (I asked for 2 breasts from each marinade & there was suppose to be a 10lb limit but my bill was over $40). I’ve found great deals on coffee at Amazon (The Community House In-between Blend is the BEST coffee ever & at $3.17/lb a great deal!). I’m still holding out for a great deal on all natural peanut butter with NO salt

Didn’t you post a review or link to a place that sells & delivers organic chicken? I forget if it was you or another Ohio blogger, but they are suppose to be ‘coming soon’ to Columbus, so come December or so I plan on doing that. I’ve debated buying a side of beef but can never get the funds together (still living paycheck to paycheck). I hope to get half a deer next month & have almost all of it as ground meat (since really all we are eating anymore is chicken & ground meat…we’re in a rut)
wow, sorry for the book & man did I use a lot of parentheses…but yeah I think I’m thru with Kroger after I stock up on my baking supplies (I’m hoping for a mega event in November with baking supplies)

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jackie October 11, 2011 at 10:55 pm

Well I have to agree with everyone. And just when I had decided to do the Aldi/Walmart/Woodman’s route Schnooks bought out the Highlander (Kroger owned) stores and raised prices again. They already owned a chain of more upscale grocery stores in town and so far it looks like the prices will be in line with those. And the sales are no where near what the Kroger sales were….and they have no loyalty cards for instore discounts. It sure is getting tough!

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Chrissy October 11, 2011 at 11:20 pm

I shop at several different stores depending on what the sales are and what coupons I can us… I am lucky to sit pretty close to Dillons (Kroger), Walgreen’s, Kmart all in one block not far from me Menard’s is less than a mile from me and then about 4 minutes away is a Target and Walmart and Sam’s…. So it is pretty easy for me to shop multiple stores if I need to….

I agree Kroger hasn’t had good meat sales lately…. I remember a while back they would have B1G1 Free meat sales… I would stock up on my roasts at that time….. I haven’t purchased roast in close to a year unless it was on mark down…. I have been disappointed with them also lately….

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Lisa M October 12, 2011 at 9:22 am

I only shop at Kroger (in the Columbus, OH market) for certain items that are on sale with a coupon when it is a really good deal. Other than that, I quit using Kroger as a main shopping store some time ago. I used to be a big fan of Giant Eagle when they came into the Columbus market (loved the food perks / fuel perks thing) but now they have raised their prices so much that I can’t stay anywhere near my budget and shop there! I’ve had better success utilizing Aldi and Meijer. Even Meijer has begun to raise prices and the sales are not as good as they were 6 months ago. But I’m able to stick to a slightly increased budget amount. Buying a side of beef through my aunt and uncle’s friend helps immensely! This last December we bought half a cow and it averaged $.81 a pound, including the processing! (think hamburger, steaks, rump roasts, chuck roasts, cube steaks!) We are just now starting to run out of beef. I’m hoping to stretch it through this month but then I’m out. (Except for 4 packs of soup bones – guess I really should figure out what to do with those!) I’ve also been eagerly awaiting the bulk chicken company – Zaycon or something? But with 4 adults and one teen boy (really like having 5 adults!) it is getting harder and harder to stay within our budget…. And I am not a big fan of Walmart – too slow, too busy, cranky cashiers, very long lines and they don’t double coupons. Only go there as a last resort.

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Cheryl M October 13, 2011 at 8:51 am

Lisa,
Does your family friend sell to others too? If he does I would be interested in his contact info/farm info.
That is a great price for beef!

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Sharon R October 12, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Hi there, I live just outside of Tucson, Az. & I have given up on Fry’s (Kroger). Our local Fry’s has recently started to only take coupons at face value. The cashier told it was because of all the extreme couponers getting all their groceries for free. That really upsets me! First of all, I live in a rural area and the closest stores I have to shop at are Fry’s, Walmart & Safeway. Fry’s has always been the best place for our family to get the best food on our budget. I’ve never really liked Walmart for the same reasons Lisa mentioned and Safeway has always been higher priced. Our local Walmart has just started doubling coupons! plus they add match! And I’ve noticed more cashiers on duty and they have gotten nicer! So I have moved most of my shopping to Walmart except for meat! I watch the ads to see who has the best deal. Almost all of our stores in Tucson had B1G1 roasts this past week. Basha’s had ground chuck for 1.99/lb. and split breasts for 1.57/lb. I had just stocked up on both @ Safeway earlier in the week and paid more on both! I haven’t seen prices that low in quite awhile.
I have clipped coupons for over 20yrs. but just recently been following a few blogs on getting the most out of them. I don’t want to be labeled an “extreme” couponer but out of necessity I’ve had to cut back drastically on my grocery bill. Which really kills me because I’ve always wanted to feed my family the healthiest & most nutritious foods. Not processed junk. It’s really sad that eating healthy has to be so expensive. That’s why your book $5 Dollars Dinners caught my eye. I can’t believe it can be done for a family of 4, but I am willing to try! It is so hard to change the way you have been doing things for a long time! Thanks & blessings to all of you who provide such wonderful information to help us live well on less!
Sorry for leaving such a long comment!

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Lori October 12, 2011 at 7:09 pm

I have also stopped shopping at Kroger’s and it’s only about 1/2 mile away. The sales are for the same old cheap foods over and over again and the prices are more on sale than Meijers at regular price. Aldi’s and Walmart are close also but the meat at Walmart is expensive and Aldi’s does not always have what I need. I have bettter luck at the meat store and I don’t have to always buy in bulk to get good prices. Another thing that irks me about Kroger is that they are so slow on getting new inventory/products; if something new comes out Meijer’s seems to have the product within a week and with Kroger it will be 6 weeks if at all. I’m trying to cook more fish or meatless dishes which is healthier anyhow!

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Pam in Siler City, NC October 13, 2011 at 8:16 am

I’m in the majority, and not a big fan of Kroger. We live in the country (WM is 7 miles away and that’s the closest store!). I frequent 2 local grocery stores (Harris Teeter & Lowes Foods) and their sales usually compliment each other. One week Lowes is great the next the deals are at HT….last week HT had numerous Buy 2 Get 3 Free deals (salad dressings, pasta and pasta sauce, and a few others that escape my mind :( ).
I agree with you about the ground beef….think I’ve decided to puchase good roasts (chuck, sirloin) and get them ground for about the same price as more fatty hamburger. I’ll then divide that up into smaller bags and freeze for later. Hard to do w/living out of the freezer to clean it out, but it’ll all work out in the end.
Thanks for letting me know I’m not completely crazy with the way the meat prices have been….aaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!
pmc

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Jennifer October 13, 2011 at 11:58 am

There is no way I could keep my grocery budget reasonable while only shopping at one store. I have tried, I did an experiment and only shopped at Wal-mart for 1 month. I totally depleted my stockpile to stick to my budget. It was frustrating and proved to me that that method would not work for a limited budget. We don’t have kroger here, but I am about the give up on Giant Eagle.

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Kim October 14, 2011 at 1:15 pm

I regularly shop at 8-10 stores. Now, before you think I’m crazy, or that I have 37 hours in my day, I will tell you that I don’t go to ALL of them every week. I have spent my time comparing prices, and I know which stores give the best deals. I am lucky enough to live in the Chicago area, where we have lots of shopping options. In any given week, I’ll usually go to 2-3 stores. First, I check the weekly sales circulars to find the loss leaders, which are usually listed on the front page. These are the best deals each store is offering that week. Whichever store has the best deals on the majority of what I need, I go there. My second store alternates by week, among Aldi, Wal-Mart, and perhaps a second grocery store. For example, I know that my Aldi carries “Cheerios” for about 11 cents per ounce. If the grocery store sale price plus coupon cannot beat that price, that item goes on the Aldi list, ready for my next visit there in 2-3 weeks. About once a month, I hit Costco for a big stockup. While my total expenditure for each week varies greatly, over the course of the month, it does average out to about $80 per week for my family of 4.

Erin, I’d be happy to help you create a plan that works for you. It seems only fair with as much as you have helped me!

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Marla October 14, 2011 at 8:18 pm

We regularly shop at Aldi’s. Their food and produce quality is good and their cashiers are super-fast! The only 2 things I don’t buy there are: fresh meats and canned veggies for soups or stews. Their canned veggies turn gray if they are cooked in the slow cooker or for a long period of time on the stove. Also, their meat prices are a little high – at my local Wegman’s I can get 80% lean ground chuck for $2.49/lb. and boneless chicken breasts for $1.99/lb. (both in bulk size). Our other local store chain, Tops, has the food for fuel program and they double coupons, and sometimes offer their own $1.00 coupon doublers in the weekly ad. But their average prices are high, so I shop there only when they have great sales. We also have several Super WalMarts going up in our area (Western New York), but they haven’t totally sold me on their prices, either. You really have to know what each store’s prices are and be aware of them when shopping.

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MKS October 15, 2011 at 2:23 pm

I always wondered why you shopped so much at Kroger. Now I know. I think it is probably opposite here about how their prices compare to Walmart. On average, Walmart is usually lower on most things. I definitely shop at several stores. I’m in Podunk Holler, Tx where it is 15 minutes/miles to the nearest small towns and 25/30 miles to a Walmart. I usually shop the sales at the smaller stores (IGA and Market Place) but get most other things when I am near a Walmart. Sometimes I do the price matching, but it is hard to coordinate. This year, two new Aldi’s have opened up each being about an hours drive. When we are “in the city” we try to stock up on milk, eggs and whatever else looks to be a really good price.

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Heidi October 17, 2011 at 11:24 am

We get our meat from a local farmer and buy most other things at Aldis or at drug stores when I can get coupon deals. All grocery stores here except our little grocery store in town are at least 30 minutes away :( It seems like food prices are going up once more.

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Carol October 17, 2011 at 2:45 pm

I am single and STILL, definitely shop at multiple stores. Here are some of my best tips:

Dollar Tree dollar store has these for $1: Hormel pepperoni, shelled sunflower seeds, Nature’s Way bread ($4.79 at grocery store) and thin rounds, bagels and buns, and things like relish and pickled jalapeno slices that cost more at the store. Just check to make sure the item didn’t come from China. Large selection of spices, too. I bought a bag of large hamburger onion buns there last time. Never seen those there before. I am making pizza bagels for the freezer with the pepperoni & bagels from Big Lots.

Big Lots: I recently moved to a new state and am blown away by the excellent Big Lots that happens to be near me (the one I was used to was trashy and if they had bread, I didn’t know it). This Big Lots has close-to-date specials in a separate section, some examples I recently bought are: 30oz Kraft Mayo $1.75, big bottle Kraft Chipotle Sandwich Spread $ .99, Triscuits $ .99 with corner of box crushed, potato chips $ .49. This selection varies all the time of course.

But the best thing about Big Lots is it regularly carries a large selection of the following bread items, and each is only $ .80, yes that’s right, 80 cents!! Sara Lee: 100% whole wheat bread, cinnamon raisin bread, whole wheat honey wheat and white whole grain thin rounds, blueberry crumble bread, blueberry bagels, cinnamon raisin bagels, white and wheat bagels. Earth Grains bread, which if you read the label contains lots of soy so I’m no longer impressed and won’t buy again. Russian bread. Other brands of breads. A large variety of wraps and tortillas in several sizes including wheat, whole grain, rye, sourdough, garden veggie, and others. Hamburger & hotdog buns, dinner rolls, French and Kaiser rolls, sub rolls, etc. Of course it’s healthier and more frugal to make you own from scratch, but I’m not at that point yet. With the wraps I am making chicken freezer burritos (for the filling I added pintos cooked from dried, and rice to make it stretch further, cooked with chicken leg quarters and taco seasoning) with jalapenos from Dollar Tree, cheese bought on sale, salsa from Dollar Tree, and peppers and onions from Aldis.

The other stores: I can so relate to what you wrote about beef. Glad to know I’m not crazy and it’s not just me. I’ve been eating a ton of chicken . . . I bookmark the online ads of each store in my area, including 4 in another town that yes I’m willing to drive to, and I get the best price I can, by shopping at home first electronically, which also saves gasoline.

Eggs are a good whole protein, as well as beans and rice. One store last week had eggs and 2lbs of carrots for $1.00 each; I went several times for the eggs, making tuna salad, boiled, potato salad, and breakfast fried rice with them, with a carton still left. And bought two of the carrots. Which is alot for a single person. I shop the sales; and the 3 cheapest stores for anything else are Aldis, Save A Lot, and Bottom Dollar. Each of these three, are weird in their own way, very limited, and they have specific things I will and won’t buy there, kind of like Big Lots and Dollar Tree. I don’t have a Krogers near me but I do have the following stores I shope very selectively at: BI-LO, Food Lion which I don’t care for, Lowes Foods, and Harris Teeter. A Bloom store recently opened in the other town I drive to, it’s ad is not even online yet, and I’m so happy because I have a Bloom raincheck for 93% ground beef for $1.99 lb.

I am so sorry I cannot use my Giant and Safeway rainchecks for meat, since moving, and since there haven’t been any decent beef sales for months. Giant’s never expire; Safeway’s expires in 3 months. But I have the Bloom raincheck . . .

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