As a clean eater myself, one question I often get asked, is how do I save money on groceries since organic and healthy products are usually on the expensive side. This also goes for people who eat gluten-free, organic, kosher or another specific diet. So, how do we go about this?
Since I believe coupons are not the primary way you save money on groceries, I think that everyone can reduce his/her grocery bill. The key is first understanding how much the products you buy cost at their regular price. Next figure out what a good sale price is for them and how often the things you buy go on sale.
Then, when something is on sale at a great price, buy enough of it to get through to the next sale. If you can use a coupon on top of a sale, fabulous.
If there’s only one thing you remember from Pocket Your Dollars, let it be this:
Buying something on sale without a coupon is almost always a better deal than paying full price and using a coupon.
Once you know what a good sale price is on the items you regularly buy, one easy way to stretch your budget when eating a specialty diet is by purchasing your groceries online from Amazon.
Prices for specialty foods from Amazon are very, very competitive with what you’ll find at most grocery stores and co-ops. But the savings at Amazon don’t stop with their everyday low prices. You can choose Subscribe & Save for almost any grocery item and receive a 15% discount on that day’s purchase of that item.
Subscribe & Save
Subscribe & Save is an automatic re-ordering service that you can cancel at any time. At the point of purchase, you select the frequency with which you’d like to receive future shipments of the item, but you can cancel before you ever receive one. Wait until your order has shipped, then log in to your Amazon account and select “Manage Subscribe & Save Items” from the account management screen (see image below).
You’ll be presented with a list of your Subscribe & Save items with an option to cancel any or all of them.
There are two types of coupons that are good at Amazon and neither require a scissors and Sunday paper or even a printer.
First, each month various brands of products go on sale. In my experience these are often specialty food brands providing gluten- or allergy-free products, organic products or something similar. The current sales are listed on this “Special Offers” Amazon web page and typically range from 10-30% off.
To receive the available discount on any of these month-long products you’ll need to enter a coupon code at checkout (the coupon codes vary by product).
Another rotating set of products has money off coupons available. These operate more like a traditional grocery coupon in that you’ll get a set amount of money off the product you purchase versus a percentage discount. These aren’t always specialty products and sometimes mirror some of the grocery coupons we’ve recently seen in the paper.
Visit this page of coupons and click on whichever one you are interested in to see qualifying products. The coupon will automatically be applied at checkout.
These coupon discounts can be combined with the 15% Subscribe & Save discount to create some amazing deals.
Shipping costs are a factor for all of us that shop online. Amazon has made it fairly easy to get free shipping. Yes, you can spend $25+ in any order to get free 2-day shipping or you can have an Amazon Prime account which gives you free 2-day shipping with no minimum purchase.
Instead of paying $79 for an Amazon Prime membership, you can get a free Prime account if you are a mom or caregiver to a child (through Amazon Mom), a student with an .edu address (through Amazon Student) or if you haven’t had a Prime account in the last 13 months, you can get a free trial. Even without a Prime membership, I rarely struggle to reach the $25 spending threshold to get free shipping.
Prime Pantry is a fantastic service to try if you find yourself not having enough time to grocery shop. Oder food from the comfort of your own home and get it delivered straight to your door. Price of service cost $5.99 per 45-pound box, but you will have access to bonus items as a Prime member that the rest of the public doesn’t.
Prime customers can now have certain Whole Foods groceries on Amazon delivered same-day or one-day shipping. Even better, select Whole Foods 365 products are now on Prime Now, a 2-hour delivery service available in select locations.
Get Cash Back at Whole Foods
In a recent partnership with Chase Bank, Amazon announced that members with an Amazon Prime Rewards Visa will now receive 5% cash back on their grocery purchases at Whole Foods. Even sweeter, cardholders also get 5% cash back on all Amazon purchases, 2% cash back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. The best part: You can use your rewards to pay for Amazon purchases!
I’ve talked about how to shop Amazon, but now let me show you some specific examples to prove my point on the kind of savings you can see when you combine Amazon’s coupons, Subscribe & Save and free shipping.
These examples are valid as of this writing (10/11/11), but Amazon may change their prices at any time:
Clif Kid ZBars (24 ct. box) for $9.92 after Subscribe & Save. This price for a 24-bar case even beats Sam’s Club’s price of $10.99.
Organic Valley 1% Milk Drink Boxes (24 ct.) for $21.04 after Subscribe & Save. That makes each drink box $0.88 and is a 42% savings over the $1.50/carton cost of this same item at an area grocery store.
Pamela’s Products Gluten-Free Chunky Chocolate Chip Cookies (6 boxes) for $11.30 or $1.88/box. Compare that to $3.89/box at my local grocery store. To get this price I combined a coupon code found on the special offers page with the Subscribe & Save discount.
Udi’s Gluten Free Granola, Cranberry (12 oz.) for $12.17, which is $4.05 per pouch. The regular price for this product at my local grocery store is $8.99 per pouch, but they are on sale this week for $6.99 each. This is another example of combining a coupon code from the special offers page with the special offers page with the Subscribe & Save discount.
Yes, the sales or coupons on these specific examples will eventually expire, but they’ll be replaced with another batch of discounts.
If Amazon isn’t your thing and you’d rather go to the grocery store, here are a few ways Pocket Your Dollars can help you with that:
A Grocery Coupon Database
You can look up coupons for products you use, even if those products are never included in one of our shopping lists. Many times coupons for organic and specialty products are available for print online and we index those for you in our coupon database.
Co+Op Deals Shopping List
Co+Op Deals is a network of 300+ grocery co-ops that share a coordinated sales flyer. We align their bi-weekly sales with coupons, and our whole foods expert, Angie Erickson, helps us know which items are at rock bottom prices.
For even more tips, check out my previous post on 4 Tips for Eating Organic on a Budget.
Whether you and your family eat an organic, gluten-free or other specialty diet, you can see major savings by knowing the sales cycles for items you regularly buy, by using any and all available coupons on top of sale prices and by taking advantage of great online deals.
Your turn: What items do you regularly buy at Amazon.com? What other tips do you have for eating a specialty diet on a budget?