The Grocery Game

Here’s my latest nerdy pleasure. The Grocery Game operates under the theory that chain supermarkets put pretty much everything on sale sometime during a 12-week cycle. You pay $10 every eight weeks (a four-week trial period is a buck) and on Sunday mornings access “The List” showing advertised and unadvertised sales for, in the Chico area, Safeway. The Walgreen’s list is free. Teri Gault and her franchisees use computer databases to sort real from “phantom” sales and match them with the manufacturers’ coupons you’ve saved from the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle, combining them to equal massive, mindblowing savings. Stockpile stuff when it’s on sale and you never have to pay full price. The “game,” discussed fervently on site message boards, can get a little cult-like (Their mantra is “trust The List.”). But you can’t argue with cheap, even free, stuff. On my last trip to Safeway, I paid $17.67 for more than $80 in quality product—five bags’ worth—saving 78 percent on my total bill. And this is in “The Land of No Doubles.” If all this sounds like a huge pain in the ass, it is, but I love it.