You know what they call this store. Whole Paycheck. Becuase you spend your WHOLE paycheck there, y'all. But I call it heaven and I manage to keep much of my
tiny non-profit paycheck in my bank account. But how does she do it?? I will tell you, my friends, so gather 'round.
Although there might be better deals out there, we are basically a Costco/Whole Foods combo family. Life is too short for two full-time worker bees to be driving all over deal hunting, and there are some very good ones to be had at these stores if you know how to work 'em. Any bulk or home purchase, we go to Costco first and price check against Amazon.com subscribe and save (if Costco carries it, they pretty much always win the price war). For the list of my must haves on Costco trips check this post. The organic and environmentally conscious products here are top notch so we don't feel like we're skimping on quality or sacrificing our lifestyle choices. We average about 1-2 trips to Costco a month besides blackout season, which is the week before Thanksgiving through the first week of January. Ain't nobody got time for dat.
A big, more recent change that has helped us curb our spending is to organize our pantry where we have an easy way to assess current inventory at a glance. You'll see on the bottom shelf I organized items by meals so I can easily begin laying out a meal plan from just peeking in my pantry for a few minutes. The third shelf up is "extra" inventory that we might have bought when it was on sale or with a coupon, so I can tell what we have backup of and do not need to buy at the store. You use the last of the Almond Milk in the refigerator, you replace from here. You buy an Almond Milk but there is already one in the refrigerator, you keep it here. There should only be one of each product on the bottom two shelves since those are our snack and meal starters shelves. So if I use a macaroni and cheese box, I check the extras shelf and if there's not one there to replace the one I just used, I know it needs to go on the list if it is appearing on the meal plan.
I know this sounds really trivial, but when I reogranized the pantry like this I found six (SIX) bottles of almond milk that I didn't know we had and I was buying one every week because I couldn't see where I stuffed the last one and feared us running out. What if there at one point became so many unused almond milks in my pantry that they came together and formed some sort of uprising against me? It's a stretch but at least I can pocket my $2 for the next few weeks while we use what we have.
After I've noted what we have, I look at what's on sale in our store. Whole Foods does not mail a weekly sale flyer like everyone else, but they have them. I used to shrug it off because I didn't know what was on sale until I got to the store, but if you go to wholefoodsmarket.com you can see your store's sales flyer in advance and use it while you make your meal plan at home! This is the home page for my Whole Foods site now that I've entered which location is my store. And boy is it my store, they all love to say hi and ask how Little Child is doing when I go in. #crazygroceryaddictlady
Next on my checklist is to look for coupons for any products I might be using in my recipes for the week or any products that are sold at Whole Foods that I love in general. The biggest catch for me is to make sure it is a product I am actually currently using, because I am easily seduced by coupons to try new products and then I don't use them, which is not saving money. You can get Whole Foods store coupons at wholefoodsmarket.com/coupons.
After I've checked the store coupons, I start doing Google searches for manufacturer's coupons. One website that I go to almost every weekend that had a great selection of health foods coupons is Mambo Sprouts. The major organic/natural brands that I've been able find coupons for by searching "[brand name] coupon" include:
Rudi's Gluten Free
Peanut Butter Co.
Seventh Generation (cleaning and home supplies)
Mrs. Meyer's (cleaning supplies)
Method (cleaning supplies)
While it seems like a lengthy process, I can search for every single one of these companies every week while watching a show on the sofa Sunday morning with Markus and Little Child. I just save each one in a new tab and print everything at the end. It's even easier to like these companies on Facebook, follow them on Twitter and subscribe to their enewsletters, as many times they send the coupon straight to you!
So now you have your grocery list for the store and you can stick. to. that. list!! No case discount on artisan dark chocolate for you or exciting new juice that has 150% more human energy components from this new root or detox gel caps, my fellow deal lover. Stick to the list and if you see something super cool, come back at the end of the month and buy it with your savings.
So, to review, the fool proof plan for cutting your grocery bill while still getting to be a Whole Foods fangirl is
- Buy the big items and staples at a wholesale warehouse (Go Team Costco!)
- Keep your pantry well inventoried so you know what you have
- Use what you already have to build a meal plan for the week using the online in-store flyer for ingredient ideas
- Download coupons from the Whole Foods site
- Search for coupons from your favorite brands sold at Whole Foods
What are your tips and tricks for cutting down the grocery bill?