Okay, so I have finally done the tally for the Publix vs. Wal-mart matchup. Now, to review, I have been doing a comparison of which is cheaper - using coupons and shopping sales at Publix vs. general shopping at Wal-mart. Other things I have included were Costco, coupon usage, comparison ads, and Super Suppers. As for those things, here is what I have decided:
1) Costco - It's definitely cheaper to buy some things there. I have been buying ground beef, frozen chicken, diapers, wipes, bottled water, and milk there every month. Occasionally I will buy other things there when we need them and/or when they have a coupon, like toilet paper, dish detergent, etc. Then there are always some miscellaneous deals there as well. But in regards to the Publix vs. Wal-mart competition, Costco shall not be factored in, since I bought basically the exact same items there during both my Publix months and my Wal-mart months. I recommend joining Costco or Sam's, b/c the savings far outweighs your membership fees.
2) Super Suppers - You can definitely make meals yourself cheaper, depending on the meal, so as a general savings tactic this is not the way to go. But for smaller families that can split the entrees in half and get 12 meals for $130 instead of 6, it is awfully convenient. And the meals are very tasty. I would recommend using them for times when you know things will be busy and you won't have as much time to cook, like right after having a baby or during the holidays. The nice thing is, you freeze all the meals, so they'll last as long as you need!
3) Coupon usage - It is never a bad thing, no matter where you shop, to get an extra amount off of their price. It can be a bit of work, but really, it takes me about 5-10 minutes on Sunday afternoon to cut the coupons out of the paper, and then another 5-10 minutes to look over the coupons right b/f I shop to see which ones I can use. Of course, I saved a lot more w/ coupons at Publix, b/c they do double coupons every day up to $1, and a lot of times it's cheaper there to use the coupon on a name brand than it is to buy their store brand. At Wal-mart, I still can use a few coupons each trip, but they don't double them and most times their store brand is cheaper. But there are always certain items that you don't want to use the off-brand on, so I try to find coupons for those things. I definitely recommend using coupons if you shop any place other than Wal-mart.
4) Comparison ads - This only applies to shopping at Wal-mart, as they are the only ones who honor them. I have found that there are usually around 3-6 items I can get for a pretty good savings using the ads. It is a little work also, although it only takes me about 5-10 minutes to go through all the ads and see if anything stands out. You also have to have a decent knowledge of what things cost to begin with. I am still learning this. I would recommend trying it if you shop at Wal-mart. Start w/ things you know the prices of, so you know just by looking at the ad if you are getting a deal or not, then try to learn the price of a new item or two each time you go shopping. Or you could keep a receipt or two around for reference, if you preferred.
Okay, so for the big question: which place is cheaper? After averaging what I spent at each place over several months, Wal-mart is still cheaper. I spent an average of $136.64 per trip there (I go grocery shopping twice a month, plus there are the things from Costco, if that amount sounds low to you.), and an average of $146.27 at Publix. So that means I save about an extra $10 per trip, or $20 a month by shopping at Wal-mart. However, I will say that there are perks to shopping at Publix that Wal-mart does not have. They have baggers that will load your car for you; it's smaller, cleaner, less busy, and generally more pleasant; they have free cookies for the kiddos (ok, maybe half for the kiddo and half for mom!); they are very helpful; they have great BOGO sales; and they do double coupons. And the Publix near my house is closer and easier to get to than Wal-mart, which makes the whole trip faster.
So for the bottom line: I will continue to shop at Wal-mart b/c it's cheaper, but I will not feel guilty for shopping at Publix if I want to for convenience sake. Particularly when baby boy is born and I am getting used to grocery shopping w/ two kids. :)