Remember the good ole days of shopping the sales at multiple stores to save all the money? Right now, like all of you, I try to limit my time in stores. But, I can still use free grocery pickup to shop sales, and get the most savings by stacking digital coupons, paper coupons, and rebate apps. Needless to say, COVID-19 has made this all very challenging. But who doesn’t love a challenge?

I’ll take you through each step and answer some common questions like how hard it was and how much I saved.

Ready? Let’s get started!

For more money-saving tips download the KCL app.

 

Plan meals around online grocery shopping and sales.

I planned two meals with weekly circulars from the KCL Stores page. I compared prices at Kroger, Walmart, and Meijer to see how I could come out with the cheapest overall price for a couple of dinners, based on what was on sale that week.

  1. My first meal was chicken with mushrooms and shredded cheese, roasted baby potatoes, and green beans. I also decided to throw in some Quaker Granola Bars because my family loves them and they were on sale.
  2. My second meal turned out to be turkey burgers with all the fixings, sweet potato fries, fresh strawberries, and blueberry muffins.

It took me about three hours to browse the different ads through each store’s app, calculate all items for each store, and calculate what would be the best combination. It only took about 30 – 40 minutes to put the items in the carts and check out.

 

Watch for prices that are different online from in store.

As a rule, shopping through third-party grocery pickup services like Instacart will cost you more. This is because grocery stores that use this service have to pay for it, dearly. The only way for them to make up the loss is to charge more for their products online than in store, charge a service fee, and/or charge a delivery/pickup fee on top of that. Stores like Publix, which uses Instacart, charge an extra 10 – 20% more online and through their app than in store.

Kroger and Walmart do not mark up their online prices, and neither does Meijer.

 

RELATED: Grocery Store App and Coupons You Must Use

 

Pay attention to grocery pickup minimum orders and fees.

Meijer has a pickup fee of $4.95. Kroger also has a $4.95 pickup fee, but they’ve waived it temporarily. Walmart pickup is free, if you spend $30 or more. If my savings were enough to justify Meijer’s fee, I would pay it and shop there. But as I said above, their prices were about the same as Kroger and Walmart. For this reason, I dropped Meijer and went with the Kroger and Walmart combo.

 

Accept substitutions if possible and expect some items to be out of stock.

Although I have found many staples out of stock over the last couple of months, all of my items on sale were available (yay!), and I didn’t need any substitutions.

Just in case you do find sale items to be out of stock, Walmart allows substitutions and will charge you the lower price; however, they don’t offer rain checks. And, while Kroger usually offers rain checks, right now they aren’t, but they’ll also give you the lower price if a sale item requires a substitution.

 

 

Make use of digital coupons and rebate apps.

Kroger accepts both digital and printed coupons at grocery pickup. Although I had digital coupons loaded to my Kroger card, none were applicable to what I was buying on sale.

And as we all know, Walmart doesn’t let customers use paper coupons with grocery pickup, and they don’t do digital coupons in their app.

But, I was sure to use rebate and cash-back apps such as Ibotta, Fetch Rewards, and Checkout 51 (which doesn’t normally accept e-receipts but is making an exception right now) to save more.

PRO TIP: Before I scheduled my curbside pickup at Kroger and Walmart, I placed my groceries in my carts to save everything for later and remained logged in to my account to make it easier.

 

Schedule curbside grocery pickup at your nearest stores.

Walmart grocery pickup

Pickup at Walmart was challenging. The only slot I could get was six days out for pickup between 9 – 10 a.m. on Saturday morning. I got a text at 9:03 a.m. Saturday that said they were running behind and they would text me when my order was ready for pickup.

Almost seven and a half hours later, at 4:21 p.m., I got the “your order is ready” text! I checked in via the text to let them know I was on my way — the check-in is a great feature. No need to call or text when I arrived.

Even though Walmart is only three miles from my home and it took six minutes to get there, I had to sit in a pickup spot and wait for my order for another 45 minutes. Out of the ten pickup spots, eight were filled.

While I sat there, I watched only one exhausted team member check orders and load groceries. That could explain why they had such a backlog!

Kroger grocery pickup

Kroger was trickier. I couldn’t get a pickup time on the app. I ended up signing up for Curb Run to keep an eye on curbside pickup time slots for me.

The next morning, I received a text from Curb Run telling me a pickup time two days out was available. I immediately got in my Kroger app and booked the spot.

But, I realized I ordered a pickup from the wrong Kroger! (Once I got there and sat for like 45 minutes. Embarrassing.) I made another time for the right Kroger and went back. After I called the pickup number, a Kroger team member was out within a couple of minutes to load my groceries in my vehicle.

RELATED: Can’t Get a Grocery Delivery or Pickup? Try This!

 

Shopping just Kroger would’ve been about $5 cheaper than just Walmart.

I found all the items for both meals on sale at Kroger.

First meal:
Four pounds Tyson Natural Boneless/Skinless Breasts (reg. $3.98/lb.) sale $1.99 a pound
Two pounds Fresh Green Beans (reg. $1.69/lb.) sale $0.88 a pound
One pound Fresh Whole Mushrooms $1.99 8-ounces
One bag (Generic Kroger brand) Shredded Cheese (reg. $3.19) sale $1.88 8-ounces
2/$5 Two bags – Baby Red and Gold potatoes 1.5-pound each
3/$5 Quaker Chewy Granola Bars 5 – 8 count (reg. $2.29 each) sale $1.67
Second meal:
One three-pound roll (85% fat-free) Honeysuckle Ground Turkey (reg. $3.99/lb.) sale $1.99 a pound
One 8-count pack Ball Park Hamburger Buns (reg. $2.79) sale $1.99
One Green leaf Lettuce $1.79 a pound
One pound Tomatoes on the Vine $1.99
One package (Generic Kroger brand) Sliced Swiss Cheese eight slices (reg. $3.29/6 oz.) sale $1.88 6-ounces
One bag 20-ounces Frozen Alexia Sweet Potato Fries (reg. $3.69) sale $2.99
One bottle 38-ounces Heinz Ketchup (reg. $3.49) sale $2.99
One bottle 14-ounces French’s Classic Mustard (reg. $1.99) sale $1.69
Two pounds Fresh Strawberries (reg. $2.50) sale $2.00 a pound
Two 4-count Bakery Blueberry Muffins (reg. $4.59) sale $3.50
Regular price $71.90
Final price $57.87 (Savings $14.03)

Walmart’s price breakdown for the same items:

First meal:
Four pounds Tyson Natural Boneless/Skinless Breasts $1.99 a pound
Two pounds Fresh Green Beans $1.68 a pound
Two 8-ounce containers Fresh Whole Mushrooms $1.88 each
One package 8-ounce (Generic Walmart brand) Shredded Cheese $1.98
Two 1.5 pound bags Baby Red and Gold potatoes reg. $3.77 each
One box Quaker Chewy Granola Bars 24 count reg. $4.98
Second meal:
One three-pound roll (85% fat-free) Jennie-O Ground Turkey reg. $2.62 a pound
One package 8-count Ball Park Hamburger Buns reg. $1.98
One Green leaf Lettuce $1.74 a pound
One pound Tomatoes on the Vine $1.88
One 8-ounce package (Generic Walmart brand) Sliced Swiss Cheese 12 slices reg. $1.84
One bag Frozen Alexia Sweet Potato Fries 20 ounces reg. $2.76
One bottle 38-ounces Heinz Ketchup reg. $2.98
One bottle 14-ounces French’s Classic Mustard $1.36
Two pounds Fresh Strawberries $4.24
Two packages 4-count Bakery Blueberry Muffins reg. $3.28 each
Final price $62.78 (Savings $8.02)

 

 

RELATED: Best Items to Stockpile During Every Month of the Year

 

But, I saved about $3 overall by shopping two stores instead of one.

Since Walmart has a minimum of $30 for curbside pickup, I had to make sure I had enough items in my order without needing to add a bunch of other stuff. Here is how I split my orders:

Items bought at Kroger:
Two pounds Fresh Green Beans (reg. $1.69/lb.) sale $0.88 a pound
2/$5 Bags of Baby Red and Gold potatoes 1.5-pound each
One bag 20-ounces Frozen Alexia Sweet Potato Fries (reg. $3.69) sale $2.99
One three-pound roll (85% fat-free) Honeysuckle Ground Turkey (reg. $3.99/lb.) sale $1.99 a pound
Two pounds Fresh Strawberries (reg. $2.50) sale $2.00 a pound
Kroger Final Price: $19.72
Used Kroger Reward card to earn 2% back from Kroger brands ($0.25)
Items bought at Walmart:
Four pounds Tyson Natural Boneless/Skinless Breasts $1.99 a pound
Two 8-ounce containers Fresh Whole Mushrooms $1.88 each
One box Quaker Chewy Granola Bars 24 count reg. $4.98
One package 8-count Ball Park Hamburger Buns reg. $1.98
One Green leaf Lettuce $1.74 a pound
One pound Tomatoes on the Vine $1.88
One 8-ounce package (Generic Walmart brand) Sliced Swiss Cheese 12 slices reg. $1.84
One bottle 38-ounces Heinz Ketchup reg. $2.98
One bottle 14-ounces French’s Classic Mustard $1.36
Two packages 4-count Bakery Blueberry Muffins reg. $3.28 each
Walmart Final Price: $35.04
Used my Capital One Walmart Rewards card to earn 5% back ($1.72)
Combined Final Price: $54.76
If I had just shopped at Kroger I would have spent $3.11 more.
If I had shopped at just Walmart I would have spent $8.02 more.

I also…

Scanned receipts into Ibotta and saved another $0.85.
Scanned receipts into Fetch and earned 650 points.
Plus, I got an extra four slices of cheese, so no complaints!

 

Was the $3 I saved worth shopping at multiple stores?

Many would say saving $3 – $8 isn’t worth the hassle of waiting so long for my orders. I didn’t need the groceries immediately, so the wait was no big deal. If my orders were larger, say a weeks’ worth of food, by shopping smart and doing multiple grocery pickups, I would’ve saved even more.

And here’s the deal: because Walmart and Kroger are just a couple of blocks apart, I didn’t have to go out of my way for either.

The way I look at it, I saved money, proving that I can still shop multiple stores to save!

Don’t Scroll Up! Here are the articles I mentioned:

Grocery Store App and Coupons You Must Use
Can’t Get a Grocery Delivery or Pickup? Try This!
Best Items to Stockpile During Every Month of the Year

 

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Use Free Grocery Pickup to Shop Sales at Multiple Stores