So many readers shared that they would like to see the 64 Grocery Budget series land in Publix stores, so my dear friend Mandi of Chewsy Lovers took on the challenge for me! Mandi is located right outside of Atlanta, is a professional chef, awesome food blogger and now an official contributor on 4 Hats and Frugal. I was excited she was willing to try the challenge at her local Publix. Thanks for doing this, Mandi!
I watched Amiyrah complete the 64 dollar budget grocery challenge at both Target and Aldi, and I will be the first to admit I was impressed. I thought it was great, but I said there was no way my family could eat for a week using $64 and I consider myself a pretty savvy shopper. When she asked me to take on this challenge at Publix, I was so excited! I absolutely LOVE Publix and knew it could be done. I didn’t know HOW it could be done, but I was up for the challenge. My family actually came in $2 under the budget. Crazy right?! I talk to so many people that say Publix is too expensive, or just that they love Publix but don’t know how to save money there. So here are some key things you need to know about shopping at Publix, that I used to stay within the $64 budget for this challenge.
Find The Base of Your Menu
Assess what you already have in your pantry, or leftover from the week before, and use those things to build a menu for the week. Then you have more money to work with when you head to the store. I didn’t need cereal, rice, tomatoes, oranges, sandwich bread, or peanut butter. So those were the base of my menu.
Learn the Cycle of Your Staples
One of the biggest ways I save money at Publix is by stocking up on my family’s staples as they cycle. I’ll explain. Our favorite pancake mix, and our favorite peanut butter are two things I always stock up on. I don’t mean in really large quantities, I just mean until the cycle runs again. If Peter Pan (our favorite) is on sale one week, I buy enough to last three weeks, which in my house is two jars. This will last us until they are on sale again. I don’t mean a few cents off, I mean at least 50%. If you like Jif, the sale will probably alternate with the other peanut butter brands. That’s why I love Publix. They don’t show brand loyalty when it comes to sales. The brands YOUR family loves will be on sale. You just have to keep your eyes open. The same thing with other things like pasta sauce, pasta, cheese, salads dressing, cereal… I could go on and on. When the price hits that low, I get enough to last just until the next cycle because it WILL come again, that’s Publix. Some will cycle every two weeks, some every three, which is why you have to get to know your store. It may take a few tries, but collect the weekly sales paper for one month and just study it. You definitely will see a pattern. It’s work at first, but you will find something that works for YOUR family, and save a ton of money by doing it.
Know the Truth About BOGO
You have to understand that while Publix loves for you to save money, they are also a business. They have to make money to keep their doors open. Every week in their sales papers they advertise hundreds of dollars off through their ‘Buy One Get One Free” (BOGO) sale. I really am here for it. It’s my favorite way to save there! Whenever I talk to people about Publix, I find out it’s their favorite way to save too, but I also learn that they aren’t using it to it’s full potential. I’m going to let you in on a secret:
Just because the sale is BOGO doesn’t mean you have to buy two!
Did you know that? They WANT you to buy two, but if your family doesn’t need two, or your budget doesn’t allow two, you STILL get the sale price of 50% off. THAT’S gold! Everything from dry goods, to meat, to frozen goods, and dairy will be in that BOGO sale during the course of the month. This is when I get my peanut butter I was telling you about. Also, make those meals stretch! Don’t just use one ingredient for one dish if you can help it. You don’t have to buy two of the exact same thing. I got some BOGO pasta sauce but I got a white sauce, and a red sauce to make two different meals. The BOGO salad bags I purchased, one was a traditional salad bag for dinner, and the other was a bag of just spinach for smoothies, a simple dinner side dish, or even sautéed with the mushrooms I got, in a veggie omelette for breakfast. You just need to identify what your family likes and needs and take advantage of the sale when it comes around.
Sometimes Brand Names are Better
I loved Amiyrah’s “side eye” she gave Aldi in that grocery challenge, because I understood. Here is where I give Publix my “side eye”. Many people automatically shop off-label or the store’s label products just assuming that it’s cheaper. This is not the case at Publix. Publix prides themselves on their store brand’s line of quality products and they are marked just as competitively as big labels. Their traditional spaghetti sauce was priced more expensive than the regular price of Ragu, and Prego, the last time I was in there. All I’m saying is, keep your eyes peeled. I did buy some Publix brand pasta on this trip, but that was because I was paying attention. Instead of being distracted by the BOGO brand name pasta they had on sale, in this case, two boxes of the Publix brand was still less expensive. So that’s what I went with.
Take Advantage of Holiday and Seasonal Sales
Publix bases all of their sales around themes and holidays. This past week they were having a huge “Viva Italia” sale they called it. Any and everything related to Italian cuisine was on sale. Bread crumbs, gelato, pasta, pasta sauce, salad bags, you name it, it was on sale. Buy one get one free! If you base your family meals around themes this is perfect. Even if you don’t celebrate holidays, this is a great way to save money. During the Super Bowl sale, even though we didn’t have a Super Bowl party this year, I took advantage of the sales on chicken wings for dinner, and the sandwich fixings and chips on sale were perfect for lunch for my family. So just use the sales and make them work for your family. Shop around your family, not the holiday. On this trip, because of the sale, I grabbed some ingredients for a couple Italian inspired meals like ground turkey, pasta sauce, pasta, and mushrooms.
My total bill for this shopping trip was $62.06. Stay tuned for what I created with what I purchased and what I could’ve added with my $1.94 that I had to spare.