Note: Details about how the Grocery Game works may have changed since this post was originally written.
I am frequently asked what I think of The Grocery Game, so I decided to republish this post that I wrote a couple of years ago. I’ve updated and clarified some of the information and hope you find it helpful!
The Grocery Game is a subscription based service that publishes “a weekly list (called Teri’s List) of the lowest-priced products at your supermarket matched with manufacturers’ coupons and weekly specials — advertised and unadvertised. The Grocery Game does all the hard work and research, and presents it to you in a straightforward format.”
You subscribe to a list for your preferred store for $10 for eight weeks. Additional stores are available for $5 for an eight week subscription. Currently in Colorado Springs, you can get lists for Walgreens, Albertsons, King Soopers, and Safeway.
They offer a four week trial for a dollar, which is what I used to evaluate the program. I made a lot of observations during the trial period, and it’s hard to say whether or not I really find “The List” necessary. I would really encourage you to try it out yourself (just don’t forget to cancel before the trial ends if you don’t intend to continue). Here are my thoughts:
Lists for grocery stores aren’t promised until Sunday even though the grocery store sales run Wednesday through Tuesday. This is probably the biggest problem to me, since Saturday and Sunday are the busiest grocery shopping days of the week and by Monday and Tuesday stores tend to have limited quantities of the best sale items. Plus, if you want to make several trips to the store to stock up on a great sale, you have that much less time to do it in.
The Grocery Game does this so that they can use the coupons from the most recent Sunday paper. I understand that if they published the list earlier in the week, shoppers would miss out on a few great deals using coupons in the coming Sunday paper. But, I think it’s unreasonable to expect that all of your subscribers will be able to or even want to do all their shopping in just three days.
Throughout my four-week trial period, I found only one or two deals on the list that I missed on my own. One was for free Duncan Hines brownie mix – a sale that was not in the ad. The listmakers go through the store looking for unadvertised specials like these, so that was nice to find something I might not have seen on my own. But, since there was only one thing during the entire trial period, I have a hard time justifying the cost for a few unadvertised sales. In the Grocery Game’s FAQ, they claim there often twice as many more unadvertised sales as there are listed in the ad. I didn’t find that to be the case, at least in my stores during the trial period. After having done the bargain grocery thingfor awhile, I know what to look for myself and can find unadvertised sales on my own anyway, with little effort.
There are some regional differences, particularly in the Walgreens list. This is not a huge deal, but since coupons can vary greatly by region, it does mean that sometimes you won’t be able to take advantage of a deal on the list.
There is really no way that the Grocery Game can keep track of home-mailed coupons, printables, catalinas, peelies, blinkies, or other coupons that don’t come in the Sunday paper. This isn’t a problem on their end, because it would be impossible, but there are still a lot deals to be made with these coupons. A LOT of great deals come from coupons that were never in a newspaper insert.
This is a long post – click below to read more!
Once the Grocery Game has used a coupon, it does not reappear on the list. Say there was a sale on an item for $1.25 and the list told you to use your $.50 coupon to get it for $.25 (assuming your store doubles). Then, a few weeks later the same store ran a sale on the same item for $1, which would mean you could have gotten the item free with your $.50 coupon the list will not mention this sale to you because it already told you to use that coupon. The whole idea behind the list is that they know the absolute best price, but it’s not infallible and I’ve seen it make that very mistake.
This can also be frustrating when you’ve gotten coupons from friends or familya few weeks after they were originally published in the paper. The sale could have come and gone, and come again, but the second time around it wonâ€™t be mentioned (even if it’s the exact same sale).
Note: some lists are starting to re-list coupons, but it is not promised and is up to the listmaker.
Probably the second biggest problem I had was that the lists for different stores do not cross reference each other for the “rock bottom price”. The list tells you to buy the items that are at about the lowest price they will get – which is the whole point, to stock up on things when they are at rock bottom and then you won’t have to pay full price later.
Unfortunately, the lists for all the stores do not check against each other, so what’s rock bottom at one store may be two dollars higher than another store at rock bottom. Either way it is *probably* a good price, but in order to really get the best deal the lists should be able to compare with each other.
A rock bottom price on Huggies diapers at King Soopers may be $7.99, but at Safeway it might be $5.99, just as an example. If you’re going to stock up, you should be able to see if you should stock up at King Soopers or wait for the sale at Safeway. I think that is the biggest thing they need to fix, and it’s something that should be relatively easy to do with a little computer programming.
The cost isn’t all that much when you break it down, but do keep in mind that you cannot pause your subscription when you go on vacation or get sick. You’e going to keep paying for the list even if you’re not able to use it that week. For some people, that may not be a big deal, and for others, it could effectively double the cost to them!
Here’s my conclusion: in some cases, the Grocery Game is a great deal. If you are very, very busy, or hate grocery shopping and making lists, the Grocery Game is for you. I think it’s probably worth the money if you just can’t or don’t want to spend a little time in preparation each week. But be forewarned – if you rely solely on “the list”, you’ll probably miss out on deals the rest of the internet knows about.
If you’re new to the bargain shopping scene, I think the Grocery Game could be beneficial to you for a month or two. But this stuff isn’t rocket science, and really isn’t that hard to learn and remember after you have a basic understanding of how it works.
I think in a lot of cases, you can do the game on your own. I know every Grocery Game devotee will tell you that you are just kidding yourself, but I don’t think so. After you’ve been bargain grocery shopping for awhile, with or without the Grocery Game, you get into a flow and it’s like second nature. I teach the workshops for a one-time $15 fee and give you all the strategy you need to know to implement the deals posted here on SpringsBargains.com without paying a monthly subscription. And if you know the basics, you can read here and many other places for free!
I think it’s a great idea for anybody who hasn’t used the Grocery Game to do the $1 trial and see how it works for yourself. You might find it totally indispensable, or do it for a couple of weeks and realize how it works and decide you can do it on your own.
Have you tried The Grocery Game? Let me know what you thought by leaving a comment! Try to keep it civil – I know some GG fans won’t agree with me! :)
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Welcome to Springs Bargains, a service of our real estate business, Circa Real Estate Group! I’m Carrie, and since 2008 I’ve been sharing free and discounted ways to eat, play, and enjoy life in Colorado Springs.