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July 01, 2015

Meal Plan or Price Match?

Do you Meal Plan or Price Match? Or both?

Let's get real: groceries are expensive. Donny and I are "perimeter" supermarket shoppers -- stocking up on lots of fresh produce, meat, poultry and fish. We rarely buy processed or packaged foods and our grocery bill shows it. We can rarely leave a supermarket without dishing out at least $150 -- and that's not including diapers.

And so, every Thursday or Friday we sift through the local flyers or our app and contemplate which grocery store we'll visit and decide, do we attempt to price match to save money?

I'm a fan of the Meal Plan. I love taking my time going through the flyers and deciding where I'll shop based on what's on sale. From there, I make my menu for the week. We have a different protein each night, and prepare pasta once a week. This allows me to be creative with my meals (like my zuppa di pesce, below), try new foods if they're on special and only buy what I really need. I also like clearing out my fridge each week, ensuring fresh produce and supply.

But I've heard of so many people price-matching and couponing their groceries that it got me thinking: "Can I really save THAT much money?"

Here's the thing: price matching and couponing isn't exactly hard work. But, it's time consuming work, and well, pretty tedious. You need to scour through all the local flyers (or Flipp app, which I prefer), and cut out or save the sale. You need to be organized or it just doesn't work. Then, once you have your list together, you go to the store and shop. For me, the shopping takes longer because I'm constantly checking what's on my list and what's on sale at another store. And when you're finally done, you find the shortest possible line and apologetically nod at the people behind you, whispering, "This may take a while...I'm price matching." Eye roll.

The last time I price-matched I spent $200. Ouch. Not including diapers, once again. And I think I figured out why -- I bought everything that was on sale at EVERY store, not just the one at which I was shopping! So I left the store with some pretty good deals, but SO MUCH STUFF. My fridge was loaded, the cupboards were packed and I spent more money than I normally do!

So here's my verdict: I love a great sale, a good deal, and an outstanding coupon. I think price-matching is an effective tool when you're buying big ticket items, or consistently expensive stock (like diapers!), but for day-to-day purchases, and when you're only saving $.08/lb on asparagus, for example, I say skip it.

What do you think? Are you a meal planner or a price-matcher? Any tips for saving money at the supermarket?


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