When I had to do my grocery shopping this week, I decided to give the Grocery Game another try. It had been about five months since I’d last used the service, and I thought it was time to try it out again.
In case you’re not familiar with it, The Grocery Game helps shoppers identify when certain products are on special at various supermarkets so they can stock their pantries when sales and coupons make them as cheap as possible.
While I’d had some luck with the Grocery Game this past summer, overall it wasn’t changing the way I grocery shopped. The biggest reason was that the stores that I was able to choose to have included in my personalized Grocery Game list weren’t very local to me at all. In fact, my best choice was 30 minutes away, and my local supermarket, a Giant Foods, isn’t included. I haven’t quite figured out where the “fault” lies. However, there is a terrific Stop & Shop around the corner from where my daughter practices with her club volleyball team. (There is also a nearby ShopRite that participates in The Grocery Game, but I’ve found the Stop & Shop to be cheaper overall.) Now that club volleyball season is in full swing, it’s easy for me to do my grocery shopping there on one of the two nights a week when I have to kill two hours while practice is going on.
When I logged on to the Grocery Game’s website the first week of December, the first thing I noticed was the change in format. The entire website’s interface has changed–and for the better. The type is easier to read and the way specials in the supermarkets I select come up in the list feels more intuitive and much simpler to “digest.” What I especially like was that I could “click” on the specials the site showed for Stop & Shop that week, and then I was able to print out my personalized shopping list. It’s even said on the top “Leah’s Shopping List.” This was a huge timesaver for me.
Once I got to Stop & Shop, I discovered another timesaver not related to the Grocery Game. Stop & Shop lets shoppers take a handheld scanner around with them as they shop. This meant that as I chose items on my grocery list, I could scan them right there in my card AND bag my groceries at the same time. In addition, instead of finding a clerk to do a price check in Aisle 3 or whatever, I could do my own price checks. Additionally, the scanner gave me a running total of the groceries I’d already scanned and bagged so that if I had an arbitrary budget, I could conceivably stop scanning and bagging once I hit that number. (The fact that I kept a week’s worth of grocery shopping in the $100 range was good enough for me.)
As I got ready to scan the first item on my Grocery Game list–a five-pound box of clementines–I noticed a discrepancy. The Grocery Game listed that this item should be $3.99 on sale in the store. But it wasn’t. Sure they were on sale–the sign said clementines were regularly $5.99 but on sale for $4.77–so it wasn’t as cheap as the Grocery Game said it would be. But the Grocery Game was right that it was on sale. Unfortunately, I discovered the same discrepancy a few steps away in the produce aisle when I scanned a whole pineapple. According to the Grocery Game, that should have been $1.99 on sale but it was $2.99.
Of the items on my list, only three were spot on with Grocery Game prices–bananas, Progresso soup (I love that they’re one Weight Watchers point per serving), and Suave shampoo. Everything else was at least one dollar more expensive than what the Grocery Game told me it would be. I double-checked when I got home that I’d chosen the right week and the right state, and I had.
Overall, having the Grocery Game list in hand helped me to keep my shopping organized and on track, even if I did end up spending a little bit more than expected. I will likely continue to shop at Stop & Shop with the Grocery Game as my guide but not my Bible. That’s because shopping there brings additional benefits. First, the supermarket still gives a credit when you bring your own reusable bag (five cents per bag). And second, like most supermarkets Stop & Shop doubles coupons but it doesn’t stop once doubling reaches $1. I had two coupons that doubled for more than a buck each. Overall, I saved about $20 in coupons. Not bad when your bill is $100ish total.