Let’s start with how many CVS sales work. CVS offers “Extracare Bucks” (or ECBs) each week on certain items you purchase. This means that if you buy the item, you will receive an ECB on the bottom of your receipt. It looks like a coupon, but is basically the equivalent of a CVS gift card that can be used on a future purchase.
Sometimes CVS offers ECBs back on certain food items. Now, of course, you’re not going to be finding the majority of your grocery items there – CVS doesn’t sell fresh produce which is what should be making up a good portion of your grocery list! But you can look for staple items that you can save here and there to cut back on your grocery bill a little bit each week! For example, this week a gallon of skim or 1% milk was on sale for $3.89 a gallon at CVS, plus you got a $1 ECB – making the net cost just $2.89 (a great sale price as is for the Northeast, where milk is usually $4+ per gallon). Other weeks, I’ve seen sales on Cheerios for 2 for $5, and when you buy 2 you get a $2 ECB. That means the net cost of the cereal is just $1.50 each. When you combine these ECB sales with coupons, you can do very well!
Also check the regular priced or standard sale priced (i.e. non-ECB) items, as they may surprise you. CVS has amazing deals on herbs and spices, regularly priced at just 99 cents each – compared to the grocery store pricing of $2-3+ per bottle. Now, are all the herbs the best quality? Nah. But when you need a standard like black pepper or cayenne pepper, they’re completely fine. Sometimes you can also find good prices on dried fruit, and its $1-$2 less per package compared to the grocery store.
Lastly – and perhaps most logical for couponing and deal hunting – consider taking advantage deals on personal care items like deodorant, shampoos, razors, toothpastes, and more. There are often manufacturer’s coupons available for these items, and when stocked with a sale they are extremely inexpensive and sometimes free. You can then put your savings from those items towards your healthy food budget! If you feel like you don’t have enough money to purchase healthy items, this can be a great strategy for you to use. Funnel your savings (which may be as much as $25-50/month) towards those nutritious foods at your grocery store or farmers market.
(Disclosure – I have no affiliation whatsoever to CVS. I just love shopping there, haha!)