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Find South Florida’s best grocery deals: Join loyalty clubs

Hello, I’m Jennie Phipps, a wife, mother of two grown sons who I raised as a single mom, and now the grandmother of three. I’ve done a lot of grocery shopping in my life. My memory is clear of the days shortly after my grocery run when my sons stood in front of the fridge – with the door open – and whined the three-syllable, ‘MO-O-M,’ what can we eat?”

Inflation has hit us all hard. Although it’s abated in the last few months, getting a grip on ways to spend less and still eat well remains a big issue for most of us.

My goal for this – my new weekly column for South Florida on the Cheap – is to share my experience as well as uncover more ways to spend less and eat better.

Today, we’ll start with the basics. Joining a loyalty program nets you weekly updates about what’s on special. Occasionally, you’ll probably get a good customer bonus. For instance, if you were a Club Publix member this week, you got a $3 off coupon. It won’t make you rich, but it’s enough for an iced coffee on the way home. Next week, with inflation trending downward, we’re going to talk about the falling price of basics like eggs, which are down to 10 cents an egg in many stores.

Personally, I’m a shopper whose only loyalty is to paying the least for the best, shopping wherever I can find the deals. I welcome suggestions. If you think you know more than I do, please share your tips and questions at Together, we can rock the South Florida grocery shopping scene.

Aldi’s The Cheap Price Winner

­The grocery that boasts about being the cheapest and offering the best deals scoffs at rewards programs. It offers an online calculator to help shoppers figure out whether a rewards program works for them. Hint! The calculator isn’t going to send you off to shop the competition. View Aldi’s weekly specials here. Deals start on Wednesdays. Living on the Cheap has a guide to the best and worst deals at Aldi's.

Fresh Market Caters to Those Who Can Afford It

This high-end grocery chain with perfect produce, a good wine store and lovely meats and fish offers weekly sales. The prices aren’t equal to Walmart or Aldi, or even Publix, but if you’re looking for high quality, you can find it here at prices that are a little lower than Whole Foods. Sign up for the Fresh Market Ultimate Loyalty Experience and also download The Fresh Market app. Both tell you what’s on sale, starting on Wednesdays. Be aware that prices are higher for delivery, even curbside.

Publix Isn’t Cheap, but the Loyalty Program is a Good Deal

Sign up for Club Publix and get $5 off the first $20 you spend. One of the best benefits is getting the weekly sales information a day early – on Wednesday instead of Thursday. You can beat the rush on BOGOs. Yes, Publix will give you a raincheck, but it is easier to just get there early.

While Publix has a simple-to-use website, the best way to connect is the Publix app on your phone.  Find a link to download the app here or just go to the App Store or Google Play.

Publix’s app is more useful than most. Use the app to identify coupon savings you’re interested in – just click on them. Log in with your phone number when you check out. When you buy an item with a coupon, the savings will be subtracted from your bill. Pay with the app and it saves your receipts so you can track your purchases.

Sprouts is Healthy but Usually Not the Cheapest

Sprouts. This is a healthy food grocery. If you’re into organic, wild caught, responsibly sourced or just beautiful, fresh produce, check out Sprouts. But don’t expect to find many bargains compared to less fastidious retailers. Download the weekly sale ad and also pull down the Sprouts Farmers Market app on your phone.

SuperTarget ‘Circles’ the Discounts

Find the weekly Target ads here. Unlike most of the competition, ads are good Sunday-Saturday. Get a “Sneak Peek” on Saturdays. Join the Target Circle on the Target app. There are dozens of online deals that you won’t see on the website or in the flyer, although they are displayed at the stores.

Consider getting a no-fee Red Card. Choices include credit, debit or a reloadable cash card. Whichever you choose, you get a 5% discount on most grocery and other purchases. If there are additional Circle discounts, the Red Card discount will stack. Plus, the first $40 you spend is credited back to you. Cardholders also receive free two-day shipping on eligible items from and 30 extra days to return or exchange purchases.

It is worth noting that the application for even the reloadable cash card seeks a lot of information, including a Social Security number. Reloading the card is free at Target, but other options cost money.

If you are part of the Target Circle but you don’t have a Red Card, then you get a 1% discount on most purchases. Living on the Cheap has insider tips for saving at Target.

Trader Joe’s Has a Following but No Sales

If you buy organic foods, TJ’s could be the place for you. There’s a big selection and most prices are attractive. Don’t expect weekly deals, even in its regular newsletter.  Here’s what TJ’s says about that: “We won't send coupons or discount offers. ‘Sale’ is a four-letter word to us. We have low prices, every day.” Subscribe to the newsletters here. There’s no Trader Joe’s app.

Walmart Is Mostly the Price Winner

Before you go to the store, shop Walmart online. Your store’s inventory with prices is available online, and it is easy to check nearby stores if yours doesn’t have what you want.

Prices aren’t uniformly lower at Walmart compared to Publix or Winn-Dixie. But the Walmart where I shop seems to watch Aldi’s prices very closely. When Aldi has a good deal, chances are Walmart will be close or maybe a few pennies below.

If you are a user of grocery delivery, it’s hard to beat the Walmart+ deal. It’s currently offering a half-off sale – $49 for a year. That gives you free grocery delivery as long as you spend $35. You also get 10 cents a gallon off on gas at Murphy gas stations in the Walmart parking lot, and a year’s subscription to Paramount+, normally $6 a month. That subscription includes NFL on CBS and over 40,000 TV episodes and movies with “limited commercial interruptions,” which means different things at different times.

Walmart stores aren’t glamorous, and the one nearest me isn’t even all that clean or well stocked, but the prices are hard to beat.

(Photo/Whole Foods Market)

Whole Foods for Prime Fanatics Among Us

If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you’ll get an extra 10% off sale items and some special prime deals. See the weekly sales flyer here or download the Whole Foods app. My 40-ish, trendy friends shop here. They love the vibe. It doesn’t seem to bother them that we used to call this “The Whole Paycheck Grocery.” Since Amazon bought the chain, it’s a little cheaper, and if you shop smart, there are even a few deals.

Winn-Dixie Says: ‘The App Is Where It’s At’

Sign up for Winn-Dixie’s reward program and get a Winn Dixie $5 signup bonus. After that, every time you accumulate 100 points, you get $1 off your grocery purchases. Buying certain products that change weekly give you extra points. Download the Winn-Dixie app for your phone so you can see the weekly flyer (released on Wednesdays), new coupons, and bonus point products. Agreeing to get virtual receipts makes it easy to track your spending. Winn-Dixie stores vary. Finding the ones near you that have been remodeled is a good start.

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Living on the CheapMiami on the Cheap is a member of Living on the Cheap, a network of websites published by frugalistas, journalists and consumer advocates. Find practical advice on saving money on groceries, travel and shopping, plus tips from our experts on how to live the good life for less at Living on the Cheap.

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