Frugal Shopping using Technology: Welcome to the Modern Era

I was talking to my best friend, Michelle, yesterday, and she was telling me about these new tricks she was doing to grocery shop frugally, while also saving time and energy. It fascinated me so much that I asked her to share this post with you, and she obliged. This is not sponsored in any way, neither of us get kickbacks. I just thought this was so fascinating and wanted to share it with you.

Frugal? Technology? The two don’t usually go together. But there are some slightly money saving techniques using tech that I utilize. I’m a busy full time working mom of two and my time is possibly even more valuable than savings. But I still have to keep the grocery bills down. Some things that I do may or may not work for you, and are definitely not as frugal as going to the open air market and getting stuff for free, but if you need a slight edge to the game and need to save time AND money, you have to strike a good balance between the two. This is about how to not go to any store, and save money anyway. This is also excellent for people who don't have a car. Cause you don’t have to leave your house.

Grocery Delivery Service:

I know you already are thinking how could grocery delivery be frugal?

So again, time and money. If it takes me 30 min to drive to a store, and back from a store, then I have spent an hour at the store, without even going in. And then I actually have to go inside, pick out my food, and checkout. And if you are like me, maybe you get distracted from your shopping list and pick up a few more items than you actually need. There goes 1.5 hours of your life, and more money.

My main shopping stores are:
Costco (bulk for cheap) about once every 1-2 months
Aldi (gluten free for cheap and non brand names, along with cheap fruits and veggies)
Walmart (basics for cheap on sale especially perishables)
Fresh Thyme for loss leaders on fruits and veggies

I realized that I really eat a lot of fruits and veggies. So I searched around and registered for an imperfect veggie delivery service. With some of them, like you can pick exactly what goes in your box for about a 20% off savings of store. With mine, I can’t pick exactly but I do get a small box of locally sourced veggies, delivered to my home. I asked them to somewhat customize it to exclude things we will never eat and I get this about every 2 weeks. This delivers straight to my door and usually provides a week to 2 weeks of veggies.

But what to do when that box runs out? Or if I need milk?
I price compared all the major stores: Aldi, Walmart, Costco and Fresh Thyme. I then calculated how long it would take me to go there. Aldi, Costco and Fresh Thyme are 1.5 hrs at least. Walmart is next door to my house.
Prices are highest at Walmart, then Costco, then Aldi and Fresh Thyme for loss leaders only.
All of them are still cheap.

So I said, time is money, and I looked into Walmart Pickup.

In Walmart Pickup, you place your grocery order on the app. Then you drive up, call in, and they bring your order out and stick it in your trunk. For free. You spend no time in store, no time checking out, and you don’t have to lift a finger except to put it away when you get home. That is a huge time saver. Plus, the prices on the app and the prices in store are the same. So far in every order the produce has been perfect, fresh and lovely, and all the perishables have been spot on. Plus setting a specific list and NOT walking in store means I’m not tempted to go and grab something not on my list. If I have an issue with my order you just call up. They fixed the one issue I had immediately.

Secondly, try out the next stage: Walmart DELIVERY. The coupon code: DELIVERY will give you free home delivery. You again, check out on the app, set your order, set a time, and they show up at your door with your groceries. You don’t have to leave your house. Prices again, are the same as they were in store. This has been a game changer for me. I’m not sure how long the coupon code will work (at least 4 times so far), but if I don’t have to go anywhere, I have saved time and money. Plus setting a specific list and NOT walking in store means I’m not tempted to go and grab something not on my list. When the coupon code finally runs out, I might consider the $98 a year subscription service, which would allow unlimited deliveries per year. Or go back to Walmart pickup which is always free.


So what about the other 3 stores? Aldi, Costco and Fresh Thyme?
You can get a month of Instacart delivery free. However, the prices on the app (Instacart) are slightly hiked from in store. So you would have to debate if using Instacart rather than driving to those stores is worth it for you. I’m still on the fence. I might split the Instacart membership with my neighbor and then we would deliver to one house and then split every order. It is a time saver of at least 1.5 hrs but I would have to see if it’s worth it. Right now it’s better for me to drive to Costco once every 2 months and skip Aldi/Fresh Thyme for now. I might change this up later in the game.

I’m sure different neighborhoods, stores and systems have different options for home delivery. Price compare! See what prices work for you, then see if home delivery is offered for free, or if pickup is offered for free. If they are, maybe do that instead of actually going in store. I’m sure different stores offer different options and you will have to see what works for you. If you live next door to Costco, this might be totally different for you!

Amazon Prime Subscribe and Save:

I have Amazon Student Prime (available with an edu address), and that’s the way I get Prime free delivery. It also comes with Amazon Photo storage, Prime video, and the 1 day free prime shipping in my area. This is one of the cheapest ways to have Amazon prime and the cost per year is so minimal considering what I order there. Last year on Prime Day I got a Kindle for $9. This year it’s coming up on July 15 so be aware!

I eat gluten free bread only. The cheapest way to make gluten free bread is to grind your own flour and then make it for pennies once you already make your own mixture of GF bread. But I have absolutely no time to grind. You could also buy the flour preground and then make bread. Through a busy lawyer friend who also eats gluten free, I discovered Montana Gluten Free Oat Flour which makes the most delicious gluten free oat bread you could ever eat. Seriously, my kids and I absolutely love it. And to save time I buy the flour premixed. Once I have the flour, I do take the time to make and bake my own bread.
To save money on this, I put it on Amazon Subscribe and Save. If you order 5 items a month via Subscribe and save, your savings on all items turns into 15%. So what I do is I search for items that I need that are less than $3 (usually closer to $1), and add a few of those, and then get 1-2 big ticket items that I really want my savings on. For example, my flour, or a set of Keurig K-cups, or shampoo. Then I get 15% off of that. My go to items are bandaids (I have no idea why we use so many) for $1, pony tail holders for $1, and stickers for $1. So I spend $3 on those items and then get 15% off on my main item. I set a delivery for every 2 months on everything so that way I spend the least amount possible. Type into Google “Subscribe and Save Fillers” to get the cheap stuff that month to hit that 15% off the main items.

This is what works for me. So far I’ve cut my grocery bills by $200 just by not going to the store and using tech to its fullest. I’m not saying it’s the cheapest possible, but it definitely helps!

Any of you use tech to save money on your groceries? How do you do that?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal

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