I really enjoy shopping at Publix, but I used to think that it was one of the most expensive stores to shop for food. The honest truth is that it is — but only if you buy everything retail.
Since I’ve changed up my shopping habits at Publix, I’ve managed to slash my grocery bill by up to 75% each week. Yes, you read that correctly. I routinely walk out with $100 worth of groceries for just about $25 spent out of pocket. In fact, I do this every week. Publix is now my number one store for buying groceries.
There’s no big secret to doing this, and I’ll show you exactly how I do it in this post. Just like anything where the rewards are high, this takes a bit of effort. But once you get the hang of it and use the resources that I’m going to present to you, you’ll be able to plan and get everything ready for shopping in about an hour.
Every week Publix offers quite a variety of products that are buy one get one free (BOGO). The sales run for 6 days at a time and start on Wednesday or Thursday for each week (depending on your location). The items on sale change each week. For this reason, you’ll need to try and shop every week if you want a large variety of food stocked away in your pantry and freezer.
Before we go much further, you may want to check out my article on accumulating coupons. My shopping strategy definitely involves coupons, so if you need a primer I’d recommend heading over and reading up stocking up on coupons now.
Now that you’ve gotten the prerequisite material out of the way, I use two main strategies for saving tons of cash on my grocery bill each week. They are 1. BOGO items, and 2. Coupons. The key here is that we are going to be combining coupons with BOGO items to make those items super-cheap and even free on occasion.
Buy One Get One (BOGO)
To find the current items that are BOGO, go here and enter your zip code. Select your closest store from the list. After you do this, look on the left-hand side of your screen and click on the link that says ‘Buy 1 Get 1 FREE Items.’ This page will pull up a list of only BOGO items to use in planning our shopping trip.
I get my coupons through the Sunday paper and from various places across the internet. If you’d like some resources for places to get internet printable coupons, check out my post on accumulating coupons.
My Personal Rules
I think a discussion of exactly how I buy things may be necessary so that you can see exactly what I do each week to save so much money. Your mileage may vary and you need to buy and do what works best for you, but I want to lay this out just in case.
- I almost never buy things at full retail. This is important if you want to truly slash your grocery bill. Once you’ve been following this shopping plan long enough it won’t matter, because you’ll have everything you need anyway. This sounded ridiculous to me at first and I didn’t know if I was going to be able to pull it off. I used to buy everything at full retail, I never shopped sales and I didn’t use coupons. Once you see how much money you’re actually saving, you’ll cringe if you have to buy something at full retail in the future.
- I rarely buy things without a coupon. In most cases, you can find a coupon somewhere. There are rare exceptions, though, and I only buy things without a coupon if me or my family needs something and I’m unable to locate a coupon for it.
- I sometimes buy items that are BOGO, but without a coupon. It’s never possible to fully match every BOGO item you want or need with a coupon. If I think we can do without it, I’ll pass on a BOGO item for a week. Chances are, the same item will be available at a later date and there’s a good chance they’ll be a coupon for it then. These items are still roughly 50% off, so it’s not a terrible deal if you want to stock up on a particular item that week without a coupon.
My Couponing Rules
- Most Publix stores will ring up items that are BOGO at 50% off each item. So, instead of paying $4.00 for one item and getting one free, each item will actually ring up at $2.00 each. This is important as it lets you use one coupon for each item purchased. This will allow you to stack your savings.
- Publix accepts competitor coupons. These include $/$$ purchase coupons (such as a $5 off $30 purchase) as well as store-specific coupons such as coupons from Target. If you can get your hands on these, it makes the deals even sweeter. I usually always try to have at least one $/$$ coupon available each week. These are tougher to come by than standard coupons though, so be warned.
- If I only have one coupon, I’ll usually only buy one item. You do not have to buy two items to take advantage of the BOGO pricing. You can buy just one item at 50% off.
Strategy Specifics With A Real Example
Once you’ve gotten the list of BOGO items pulled up and open in another browser window or tab, it’s time to start finding where those coupons are. These tasks take me approximately one hour to complete each week. Sometimes it’s longer if there are lots of coupons available that I need to print, but usually it’s never over an hour or so.
In a new browser window or tab, go to the AFullCup.com’s Coupon Database and the Publix BOGO page. This is a database of all coupons, both printable and non-printable, known to man. If it weren’t for this gem of an application, my coupon-hunting would take considerably longer.
Example: Del Monte SunFresh Fruit
Let’s now browse through the list of BOGO items on sale at Publix for this week. I see that Del Monte SunFresh or Orchard Fresh fruit is on sale BOGO this week.
At the coupon database, search for “Del Monte” (without quotes). A list of coupons will show up on your screen. Scroll down until you see Del Monte SunFresh – Fruit In a Jar in bold letters. Hint: A bold coupon at the coupon database indicates that the coupon is an internet printable coupon.
Click the link and you’re taken to the site where you can print this coupon. This particular coupon requires that you register in order to have access to it. I recommend using an alternate (but valid) email address for registration. Fill out the required information and check all of the coupons on the page. Make sure your printer is on and click submit. A coupon for $1.00 off this product (along with several more) will print.
The print limit on this particular coupon is two (most printable coupons have print limits of two), so hit the back button on your browser and print one more. If you have multiple computers in your house, print two coupons per computer if you wish to purchase that many of any particular product.
Sometimes all that’s going to be available in the coupon database for a particular item are coupons that aren’t printable. These are often found in the Sunday inserts. They will be labeled as follows:
- 3/22/09 SS – This means it’s from the 3/22/09 SmartSource coupon insert
- 3/22/09 RP – This means it’s from the 3/22/09 RedPlum coupon insert
- 3/22/09 PG – This means it’s from the 3/22/09 P&G Saver coupon insert
If you get these coupon inserts and keep them intact like I do, it’s really easy to pull out the correct coupon booklet and find the coupon you need. I write the date on the cover of each book for easy reference. If you don’t get the Sunday paper, I highly recommend doing so in order to increase your chances of finding a coupon for BOGO items.
Combine This With The BOGO Deal
So now we’ve got two coupons, so we can buy two of the Del Monte SunFresh fruit products. These normally retail for $3.99 each.
Apply the BOGO pricing, and we’ll get each one for roughly $1.99 each. Since we have two coupons for $1.00 off this product, that will bring the price of each jar of fruit down to $0.99.
We’ve just bought two jars of fruit (a retail value of $8.00) for only $2.00. That’s a savings of 75%
Rinse and Repeat
We’re not done yet, because now that you know exactly what to do to find the items and coupons, you’ll want to repeat the above for each product that you wish to purchase. This should take no longer than an hour.
As stated earlier, you won’t always be able to find a coupon for each BOGO item. But remember, you’re still saving 50% by purchasing items that are BOGO, even without a coupon. If you need something that’s BOGO and can’t find a coupon, go ahead and get it. It will ding your potential savings a little bit, but as long as you aren’t buying the majority of your items without coupons you’ll still do OK.
The Publix Penny Item
On Sunday and Monday of each sale week, Publix always features an item that you can get for a penny with a purchase of $10.00 or more. I usually reserve my shopping day for Sunday so that I can take advantage of this item. It’s usually a pretty decent item. Last week it was a package of four rolls of Publix GreenWise toilet paper for $0.01. Not a bad deal at all. Be sure to also take advantage of this to save even more.
It may take a few weeks of shopping to master this strategy, but it really becomes easy once you get the hang of things. Saving money in this way will almost become a game once you get really good at it. You’ll probably even brag a bit at how much food you bought for very little money!
Good luck and have fun!