Grocery Geek Presents: Gone Cherry Picking

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No, I didn’t really go pick cherries this week. What I’m referring to is the practice of buying a few great sale items at multiple stores versus the traditional grocery trip of buying all you need at one store, whether or not it’s the best sale.

Cherry picking allows me to stockpile on inexpensive items and stay under budget.

This is my general mode of operation, but during busy weeks — which are becoming more frequent that not — I result to shopping at one or two stores where most things are good deals.

However, during exceptionally good sales weeks, I’ve been known to shop at Costco, Walmart, Target, CVS, Walgreens, Ralphs, Vons, Sprouts, Henrys, and Albertsons. Whew! No wonder I wear myself out sometimes.

I don’t think I’ve shopped all those in one week in a long time. But, since most of those stores are all within about five miles of my house, I can usually run a circuit and tackle them all in one fell swoop. It helps not to bring children along.

And that is what I did this week. I was gone for a little over an hour.

Here’s what I nabbed:

Albertsons had a great Kraft cheese promotion. Each package was $2. Buy 5 and get $5 back. This made the cheese $1 for 8 ounce packages. They also had Yoplait for $0.50 each. I used this Yoplait printable and got the price down to about $0.42 each.

Total spent after coupons and $5 catalina back =$2.60

At Ralphs I picked up an odd assortment of stuff. I strolled the markdowns and picked up those odds and ends that are rarely on sale and that I forget to buy (like muffin papers and cornmeal.) Some highlight prices:

Danimals $1.88 minus $1 coupon = $0.88
grapes = $0.69/lb
hot dogs BOGO minus (2) $1 coupons = $1.15 each
Ronzoni pasta $1 minus this coupon doubled = free
Ronzoni pasta $1 minus this coupon = $0.45
marked down rolls = $1.99
apples = free after coupon

Total spent for all pictured = $20.92

At Vons, I did a little more of the Ralphs routine, I strolled the markdowns and picked up things I usually forget (like sauerkraut).

Highlights from this trip:

Best Foods (Hellmans) mayonnaise = $1.99
pork strips = $1.27/lb
brats BOGO = $2
hot dog buns = $0.69 each

Total spent for items pictured above = $28.53

Last week the kids and I did a big produce run, so my trip to Henry’s was just for things that were a great sale not to be missed. Usually we buy a lot of produce here.

pineapple = $0.98
potatoes = $1.50/10lb bag
sour cream = $0.99/16 oz
brown rice = $0.69/lb
poblano chiles = $0.50/lb
garbanzo beans = $0.89/can

Total spent =$18.39

This may not seem like the most efficient way to shop. And it’s not if you have far to drive. But seriously, each of these stores was just a few blocks from the next one, so it made it an easy thing to do. I spent $70.44 altogether, working to build our pantry and keep us in the black.

:: If this kind of shopping is new to you, then you might want to check out my adventures in couponing series as well as my tutorial on how to build a stockpile.

About Jessica Fisher

I believe you can get great meals on the table -- and still keep that pretty smile on your face.

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  1. Wow girl! I’ll do that kind of shopping for cloths anyday and go store to store. In this small town I go to Price Chopper first then Walmart for anything the other doesn’t have. Once a month I’ll hit Sam’s Club and would love to get a Costco membership. My CSA pick-up is a special treat each week too. Hey, I guess I do go store to store too 🙂

  2. Hey Jessica,
    There is a $5 off 5 Kraft items available. Next time thru you can get cheese free!

  3. It is always interesting to me to see how those who are good at this whole grocery game and stockpiling shop. Thanks for letting us virtually “cherry pick” alongside you and for the insight into your strategies!

    • Jessica Fisher says

      @Kara @SimpleKids, does it seem whacky? LOL

      It has gotten to the point where it’s really, really hard for me to buy things like the cornmeal or the chili because they weren’t on sale. But, the fam wanted chili on their dogs and I didn’t have time to make it. And the cornmeal is hard to find on sale.

      Those items tend to make me twitch just a little.

      • @Jessica Fisher, No, it doesn’t seem wacky, it seems really smart. I’m noting how you had some ideas of what you were specifically after (combining sales w/ coupons, too) and also that you gave yourself time to stroll the markdowns to see what was available, too – smart strategy!

        You’ve got me thinking that I need to keep a list in my head of what stores and farmstands are close to each other that I could hit in a loop like you do. Our Costco is pretty far out from where I normally shop, but I’m wondering now about exploring that area more so that my once a month trip to Costco could include a little “cherry picking” in that area – and places along the way home as well. I mean, I’m already headed in that direction, right, so why not?

        (totally craving brats and sauerkraut now LOL)

  4. I went cherry picking this week as well. Walked around
    Walgreens while they did the prescriptions got $76.00 worth for $7.86 used gift card from Rx and register rewards. Went to Walmart and got $48.00 worth for $24.00 with coupons . Got meat and veggies and more prescriptions at Krogers used transfer gift card and paid $24.96 picked up meat and veggies at this store all the extras at the other stores. Best deal was sale on Scotch packing tape $5.00 at Walmart used $3.00 off coupon stocked up on this for next moving season when the kids will head off to school. Plus my ebay sales. Great price!

  5. I cherry pick quite a bit. That is usually how I plan my menu. In a week I go to Meijer, Sams, Wal Mart, Aldi, Wal Greens, Rite Aid and then once a month or so I go to Whole Foods.

    And If I could find Poblanos for $0.50 a lb my hubby would turn in to a Poblano! They are almost $4/lb here in Indiana.

  6. Hello Jessica,
    I was wondering if you have much information on GROCERY CARDS. Or COUPON CARDS. I can’t seem to find information as to how to obtain them. On some coupon sites there are tabs for loading coupons to the card, but where do I get one? If you or anyone here can help me I’d really appreciate it.
    Thanks in advance

    • @ Nia You would sign up for a store loyalty card at the service desk if that store has the card program. Not all stores have them. Where I live Rite Aid, CVS and Kroger have them but not Meijer or Aldi. Hope this helps!

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