I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this before, but I have a confession to make: I shop at one to two grocery stores each week. Yeah. Crazy right? Why on earth would I put myself through the torture of TWO grocery stores? Because I’m a glutton for punishment? Crazy? Stupid?
I hope not. The biggest reason is this: I’m in love with Trader Joe’s. There. I’ve said it. We buy pretty much all of Sean’s food there. Unless Safeway has a sale on organic produce, its just cheaper. And now I’m totally gonna sound like a hippy … but I like to buy him organic stuff. I like to buy him organic milk from cows not treated with growth hormones. His string cheese and yogurt are also organic and hormone free. He loves their mini blueberry muffins because they’re the perfect size for his little hands and mouth. I like that they contain no preservatives.
I like that they charge per banana, because we can’t make it out of the store without him devouring one while sitting in the cart. He’s addicted to their graham cracker cookies and casava chips. He loves the banana muffins I make him — I buy the TJ’s boxed banana bread mix and add in mashed bananas, cinnamon, and nutmeg to make it extra banana-y good.
And have you tried their frozen meals? They’re excellent! Holy mashed potatoes with gravy, have you tried their Tikka Chicken Masala frozen entree? Because you should. You can thank me later.
If we’re pinched for time, or if I’m tired, the only store we’ll hit on the weekend is TJs. The only thing I don’t buy there is meat, because its prohibitively expensive, in my opinion. (Besides, I tend to stockpile meat in our freezer — we get it at Costco.)
But TJ’s doesn’t have everything, which necessitates going elsewhere. And that’s where the problem is: I have a love-hate relationship with Safeway. I like the Safeway in my area better than the Lucky and although I like Nob Hill, its too expensive. Hubbs practically had a heart attack when we went to Food Maxx one time and I made him two promises that day (which are kinda redundant, but whatever.): 1. I would never go there without him and 2. We wouldn’t go back.
So Safeway — the bane of my existence. I never seemed able to get out of there for less than $100 — no matter what I was buying. Note: I ususally go to Safeway for stockpiling purposes: chicken stock for 50 cents a can (and buy a case) or getting a ton of frozen meals. So I got selective — I’d only buy things that were on sale. Still couldn’t get outta there for less than $90. It was ridiculous. So I got REALLY selective: Only buying things that were on sale and stockpiling manufacturers coupons. I even have an acordian-style coupon folder. I KID YOU NOT. I organize the coupons by expiration date. It helped a little bit.
But then this URewards program came up. It takes a little more work, but people? I saved $48.89 this weekend. And I got out of there for $77.01 — hands-down the cheapest Safeway run for us in eons. We only bought things that were on sale. Some of my big wins? A dozen eggs for free (for signing up with the program), $1 off deli meats, 90 cents for a 2-liter bottle of Pepsi (no limit — I bought 8), 8oz bags of shredded cheese for $1.50, and a loaf of bread for 89 cents. I added a couple of manufacturers coupons to the mix as well. The cashier did a double take when telling us how much we saved. I did a happy dance in the parking lot, while wearing Sean on my back in the Ergo, which made both him and Hubbs laugh.
So how does the program work? From my experience, it goes as follows: You register through the Internet and type in your Safeway club card number. It shows you what is on sale in your local store and also has a tab of “Personal Prices” — meaning it takes a look at your buying history and gives you “coupons” based on that history. You select which savings you want “loaded” onto your rewards card. They say it takes about 30 minutes to load, and then its active. You can also print out your “shopping list” of savings — which is a necessity: Because it will give you sales prices for 8 oz of cheese, but I normally buy the 16 oz bag. Tricky! So you need to pay attention to that kind of thing to get the savings.
The downside of this program: What if you just want to swing by the store real quick and didn’t have time to plan the list out? You still get the normal “club” savings, (you don’t have to load those on your card — I think) but may miss out on something cheaper. Also? The older generation isn’t likely to take advantage of this. And I’m talking about my 80-something Chinese grandmother who scours the weekly ads and goes to 5 different grocery stores to get sale items. (I kid you not.) She would totally geek out over this if she could use a computer.
So it looks as though Safeway will become a larger part of our routine — as long as I have time to scour the weekly ad and personalized savings beforehand.