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Tech-savvy grocery shoppers save time and money

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

Shoppers are taking advantage of apps and websites to streamline trips to the store, plan meals and, most of all, to save money.

Much like the way we talk on the phone and listen to music, the acts of making paper grocery lists and clipping coupons are being upgraded by technology. Besides store-specific apps that offer a look at weekly sales and one-click coupon clipping, there are also a variety of programs — such as Grocery Pal and All Recipes — that make list-making and recipe gathering a breeze.

Student and personal trainer Jonathan Dahin relies on the MPerks from Meijer to track his receipts and grocery lists and enjoys seeing how much he’s saved.

“Their rewards systems are actually useful, I’ve saved a trackable amount of over $200 since the first of the year,” says Dahin, who lives in Oak Park. “And these rewards are compoundable. I’ve received an entire $40 shopping trip free by using multiple rewards.”

Kroger has a similar app that works in conjunction with the Kroger Plus Card. Browse that week’s sales paper and gather coupons with one click. When you check out at the register, scan your Kroger card or the bar code on the app itself and the coupons you clicked are automatically processed.

Angie LaMilza of St. Clair Shores says she goes to the grocery store three times a week. She would rather buy her family fresh foods rather than frozen, so technology like this is important to her for saving money and staying organized.

“I mainly use the Kroger and Meijer apps. I get great discounts on gas when I use the Kroger app, but prefer the Meijer app for better food discounts.”

The full-time registered nurse and mother of three has saved $270 at Meijer since the first of the year, a number she can keep a track of with the app.

“I love their rewards programs,” she says about Meijer’s app. “Especially because I can get discounts on more than food there.”

LaMilza also uses the All Recipes application. It’s a spin-off of the website allrecipes.com. The program lets users browse recipes and place the ingredients directly to a shopping list.

“I will sometimes surf through it before I go grocery shopping, just to get an idea of what I might make for dinner that week,” says LaMilza. “It also has a ‘dinner spinner’ where you can choose dish type, ingredients and time prepared in. The spinner will randomly choose a list of dishes that match your preference.”

She said it helps if she gets “stuck in a rut of making the same dishes over and over.”

It’s also helpful if someone wants to specialize meals and choose a low fat, low carbohydrate or gluten-free meals, she said.

Ann Arbor grocery chain Busch’s Fresh Food Market is helping shoppers get organized and save with its My Way website.

There, users can view coupons and get sales alerts. There’s also an option to make grocery lists, and the My Way technology can print it out so it’s in order of the store’s aisles It makes it easier to shop your list from top to bottom without zig-zagging around the store.

The warehouse stores also have mobile apps, of course. The Sam’s Club and Costco apps have instant savings and list-making features. Users can also refill prescriptions, print photos and renew memberships through the apps.

A useful tool that isn’t tied to one store is Grocery Pal. Give this free app your zip code and it will lists deals at all kinds of stores in your area, including CVS, Rite Aide, Walgreens and Whole Foods. You can also use Grocery Pal to make shopping lists, add coupons to your list and share your lists with friends or family members through email or text.

mbaetens@detroitnews.com

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